Over the last few years the types of cars families are buying has changed significantly and there are new unknown factors in the market such as the impact electric cars may have. In this article I will outline the things to keep in mind in order to make a wise purchase.
The people carrier is by far the most popular style of family car on Irish roads today. Its a slightly bigger and heavier car so the running costs would be more, but not significantly so. For families who are buying a new car they would notice that it is more efficient rather than less so, because of the general improvements in cars over the last decade.
Over the last few years some brands have been establishing a strong following that were traditionally not that strong in Ireland. For example, Hyundai and Kia offer a seven year warranty. That makes a big statement about the cars that they produce. Even the luxury cars like BMW only offer a one year warranty, and they need just as much maintenance. This is allowing these new brands that were not previously popular in Ireland to make big in roads and get a foot hold in the Irish market.
But its not all bad for lovers of luxury cars, the old seven series BMW used to be very expensive when it came to car tax, now because these cars have less emissions they are not only cheaper to run, but also cheaper to tax. This means that once you hand over the money, they are often cheaper to run than lower end cars.
At the moment car tax for new cars is based solely on emissions but that is likely to change in the future as the government is losing money as the cars are becoming more and more efficient.
The electric cars are looking more and more like a gimmick. 2012 was supposed to be the year of the electric car but it just doesn’t appear to be happening. Most people still wouldn’t trust them for long distances, and there is not a visible presence for the charging points that would give people comfort that they are not going to run out of charge in the middle of no-where. Car sales are also down in 2012, and there is no car scrappage scheme. All these factors are hindering the growth of electric cars.
In reality our hopes may have been too high for electric cars. It may take ten to fifteen years to perfect the technology and bring the cost down. One of the manufacturers will come up with something, the rest will copy it, and gradually they will perfect it. It will take time, and during the process maybe a new technology like hydrogen cars will emerge and take centre stage. Very few people remember bio-fuel driven cars, but at one stage they were the new hope for green cars.
Regarding the size of engine for a family car, you would be surprised how powerful and efficient a 1.4 or 1.6 litre engine can be. These engines have plenty of power to drive around a five person family. Diesel cars have advanced so much over the last few years the torque that is generated by what some would consider a small engine is incredible. These engines are very quiet and can now get up to 1000 kilometres per tank of petrol.
The most reliable family cars on the market today are Japanese, Korean and German cars. These brands are still very hard to beat. Many of the cars built these days are all very reliable and the majority gives few problems over the first half dozen years if they are looked after carefully.
Another change that has happened in the market for family cars is that families have stopped using 4×4’s as the family vehicle. In the mid naughties these vehicles were much more popular on Irish roads, but people have realized that they are not as comfortable as your traditional people carrier. A 4×4 is an off road vehicle it is not going to have the same feel or suspension as a purpose built road car. I doubt we will be seeing as much of them as a family car because they are just not that comfortable.
If you are buying new, the most important thing is to shop around. It is still a buyers’ market so make sure to ask for all the extras, and if you don’t get what you want go to the next garage down the road and ask them. If you don’t ask you don’t get.In the second hand market at the moment there is a shortage of good quality diesel low-mileage people-carriers. That’s because there is a high demand for these cars. Shop around, be patient and you should find a bargain.
Alan Tobin is the owner and founder of the Ashbourne Auto Clinic.
The Epoch Times publishes in 35 countries and in 19 languages. Subscribe to our e-newsletter.