Yesterday I sold a thirteen-year-old, broken car for £661. I bought it almost exactly four years ago for £2200. During that time it has cost me around £300 a year in parts and servicing. And I spent about another £400 on tidying it up cosmetically. Total spent: £3800.
Subtracting the money returned to me by the car’s sale, that’s £800 per year — less than £70 per month of motoring.
I covered around 70,000 miles in the car while I owned it. It finally died after 211,600 miles.
That’s less than 5p per mile. For a car that cost over £45,000 when new. A car that had luxuries like leather seats, cruise control, self-levelling air suspension.
A car whose carbon cost of manufacture was long in its history. It’s particulate emissions may not have been pretty but this was a pretty green car (as far as cars can be).
In an age of planned obsolescence and fast fashion it was nice to own something with a bit of history. Something that even now is going to be fixed or stripped for parts to keep other ageing motors on the road.
Though our pictures of the future are often dominated by the shiny and new, we may look to our technology to last a little longer once the realities of climate change start to bite. In the UK this is likely to be outside the 20 year windows on which we primarily focus, but eventually we’re all going to have to accept that a rapid turnover of new goods, whether it’s cars, clothes or phones is simply unsustainable unless we get very, very good at recycling and dramatically clean up our energy generation. So much of the carbon cost of these goods is in their manufacture that extending their lifespan is going to be increasingly important.
In the mean time though, I won’t lie: I get jealous of friends and even random strangers with new cars. It may not be rational but I dream of being able to splash tens of thousands on a new — ideally all-electric — family car with a bit of pizazz.
But right now that’s not a possibility. So unless a car dealer or manufacturer decides they want to swap a car for my services in the next few weeks (and I’m still open to offers), I’ll be returning to my policy of Bangernomics. Knowing that if I have to own a car, it’s the most economically, and environmentally, sound thing to do.
Not very futuristic, but good for the future.