Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Adventures in car shopping (Part deux)

I continue to collect advice and experiences as I look for some new wheels.  By the end of the weekend, things had converged to a Ford Fiesta, and a Renault Clio.  Both are around 19K euro new, offer good “B” class emissions (very green, so the business gets a big tax credit), and good ratings in the car guides.  (Engineers always consult someone’s spreadsheet before deciding anything).

I made an appointment to test drive the Fiesta for Monday morning and biked over in a warm rain.  Unlike the US, you get to drive the salesman’s car, so it really provides a good feel for how well the car will wear and how the kids accessories fit in.  I took it out onto the A2 and climbed the mightiest hill north of Maastricht (1% grade, 1/4 mile); the 1.2 L engine muscled up without having the engine drown out the radio.  I drove through a neighborhood, taking the drempels (speed bumps) a mite quickly; my head didn’t bump the ceiling and my coffee didn’t spill.  I used to do a test where I’d belt a toddler into the back seat; if they cried and I could still hold a normal conversation up front, that was a passing mark.  Unfortunately, no toddler at hand, so I didn’t evaluate this quality.

The salesman asked if I was serious: I looked serious and said that I was.  He told me I’d receive an e-mail offer and we solemnly parted.

I asked about a 4 year, 30K km/year lease on a 20K euro car; the answer came back, about 450 euro per month.

Doing a bit of quick math, the lease then costs 5400 per year, so 21,600 over 4 years.  since maintenance, insurance, and road taxes are thrown in, this sounds like a reasonable deal.

A friend on LinkedIn suggested that looks could be deceiving, however: if the car goes back early or over mileage, then huge penalties accrue.  I asked the dealer to estimate a lease for 3 years / 40K km/year.  The answer came back, 500 euro per month.

Another friend suggested that dealers give a discount of at least 15% if I negotiated and took a payment plan.  Assuming I negotiate well and put down a few thousand, I asked my bank how much the financing would be for 15K euro on a 36 month payment scheme.  The answer came back, 450 euro per month.

There are clearly many paths to the same answers in the Netherlands.

1 comment:

Textual Healer said...


LOL: You say "I took it out onto the A2 and climbed the mightiest hill north of Maastricht (1% grade, 1/4 mile)".
Surely you could find more challenging hills in Limburg!
Close to where I live there is 2% hill - preceded by a warning sign for motorists who might not be used to such steep downhill gradients.
I rather suspect that however much you negotiate here you will always come back to the same price. Not that there are any cartels. Just an implicit, telepathic, consensus about what something should cost.