Thursday, 19 July 2007

Car Troubles

A few weeks ago a van bumped into my car at Cemetery Junction, Reading. It was a low speed crash, no one was hurt. The driver didn’t seem to know his phone number or number plate, which made me a bit suspicious of him. He offered to sort out the damage, so I rang the numbers he gave, but he rarely called back.

Eventually I gave up and got the insurance company involved. They said they wanted to take my car away to be examined, so I said OK. Two weeks later there was still no sign of getting my car back, it was during the election so I didn’t really need it as I was very busy campaigning locally, but on occasion it would have been useful. Eventually I was told that the insurance company had finally completed the inspection, and the cost of repair would have been more than the cost of the car. I had told them that weeks before so it wasn’t a surprise, but I was surprised that they wouldn’t let me arrange the repair of the car, they gave me no choice. I couldn’t drive the car away from the place it had been taken, as they said it was considered an MOT failure. I could have arranged for it to be towed to a garage to be retested, but this would have been very expensive. They did offer me more than the book value for the car, so eventually I had to take the money and look for a new car. What annoyed me was that I had hoped to find a greener solution, and kept using the car for a few more years.

So left with no alternative I decided to get the greenest car I could find. The Environmental Transport Association used to publish a car comparison booklet, but unfortunately they don’t anymore, but they do have the information on their website . So I looked at what cars were available and found the greenest. The hybrid Prius is famous but doesn’t live up to the hype, its not so efficient, and there are so few being sold I could find one in the right price range. So I chose a Toyota Yaris 1.4 Diesel, which has very low emissions and does 65 mpg. My old Skoda Felicia did 50 mpg, but was much bigger. Most cars only get 30 to 40 mpg.

So I feel let down by several corporations, firstly the company that owned the van that hit me could have saved lots of time, money and hassle by just giving me a few hundred quid to get a new door. The insurance company messed me about, as did the breakers yard in Kent who wouldn’t let me remove my vegetable oil conversion kit without written permission from my insurance company. They also wouldn’t sell me by a new door for the Skoda, as they said they only sell to registered dealers. Finally I ended up with a greener car, but the embodied energy of cars is so large we should keep them going for as long as reasonably possible.

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