Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Time to replace the car…

Two years ago, I gave in to necessity and leased a Ford Fiesta.  For the prior year 2009, I had geared around using bicycle, train, and the occasional rental car.  ‘Very green (okay, except for the 130,000 air miles, but that was business).  But by 2010  the ramp-up of my UK startup meant meetings and pitches. 

It meant a car.

I had to lower my sights from the sporty BMW / Peugeot coupes that I drove as a corporate expat (those were the days of unlimited miles with subsidized fuel) to something more praktisch.  Wil and I tried a lot of different models before I decided on the blue Fiesta, then we negotiated the lease vs. buy, personal vs. business thickets.

In the end, the lease ran about 350 euro /month, all inclusive, for car, maintenance, roadside assistance, insurance, and vehicle/road taxes,  It qualified for green tax credits and I got VAT returned; it sipped gas (initially).  The only unanticipated problem was that it takes months to deliver of a car in the Netherlands, forcing me to rent for two months.

The other problem was, well, it was a Fiesta.  Within two years, I promised myself, I will  be rich and back in a BMW.  Custom fiestaOr it will be a sure sign of failure.

My 2 year/30K per year lease runs out July 1.  I’m looking at another Fiesta.  Maybe, at least, something sportier?  -->

I actually like the car a lot.  It has all of the cool  media, voice, and backup sensor electronics, holds a surprising amount of cargo (but not a bicycle), and grips the road nicely in bad weather. One difficult blowout during a rainy night in Dover was swiftly and competently dealt with by LeasePlan.

So, I headed back to Jos Brogman to strike a deal on a replacement, this time allowing for two full months to delivery.

My old salesman had gone (He sells much nicer cars now, they assured me.  Lovely: at least one of us moved up), but the new fellow seemed young and earnest.   We got down to it.

The first offer for a lease was a third higher than the online offer, so now we got down to hard bargaining.

But the Dutch are ruthless negotiators.

The tax laws are changing June 1 so there is a rush on to get cars ahead of the deadline. A pitiful gambit: I’m not picky about colour.

I can give you a 16K euro car for 400 a month, or a 15K euro car for 410, he offered.  Doesn’t that seem backward?  Not if you consider residual value.

It turns itself off at stoplights to save fuel.  That is not actually a reassuring feature.

I told him I’d go think about it and come back tomorrow.  He told me it was his day off and we could talk Friday.

I hammered at the computer and he sent e- mails, as each of us countered with one final offer after another.

For three days we rocked the terms and options around until we both found a sweet spot.  For him, it’s about X-options and Titanium packages.  For me, it’s 2010 X Games, Los Angelesabout swallowing pride and getting a  fuel-efficient diesel.

For three years, this time.

Then the BMW.  Or a really tricked-out Fiezta.


Jules: said...

Our negotiation strategy: show up with a wad of cash, tell the guy, "We need a car for this much."

It worked with our kitchen, though admittedly we bought it in the middle of the recession.... ;-)

David Hampton said...

That is a great strategy if you have the cash :) I usually do try that for home improvements and repairs, and I can usually save 10% or so.What have you decided to do about your car purchase??

Textual Healer said...

What on earth is a titanium package? Did you not consider buying a second hand for c. 2K. Paid off in five months at those lease rates!

David Hampton said...

Hi, Nick, hope things are going great in Brux!

I did look into that, but the tax rates and business used rules are not very favorable, and I'd still have to pay insurance, road tax, etc on top of it. When we added up the numbers it wasn't as big a difference as I would have thought (used cars were running around 5-7K via dealers - your's sounds like a friends deal :) ).

I think the Titanium is a plug for the Mp3 player and a backup sensor: that and the ECOBoost is the only way LeasePlan seems to sell these.