We have taken a plunge into the dark side and after nearly 7 years of living car-free we are now the owners of an electric Renault Zoe. Yes, I’m almost ashamed to say it: we are now evil car owners. It was not a decision made lightly. We have loved living without a car and have saved lots of money. No car insurance, no maintenance, no MOTs, no vacuuming and washing. So why have we changed our minds? Lots of reasons.
Aberdeen isn’t very cycle-friendly. The kids are really too big to sit in my cargo bike but it’s not safe for them to cycle on the roads here. Cars are given preference at every intersection, every roundabout, every road and highway.
We’ve been members of Co-wheels car club for several years now and that has worked well for us. However, over the last year there have been lots of little annoying things. Usually I’ll book a car on a Sunday to drive into the countryside for a walk. Sundays tend to be busy for the car club so I try to book in advance. I always book an electric car but often I’ll get to the car and find the person before didn’t plug it in or didn’t swipe the card to start the charge. At first I thought it was just new people in the car club not knowing what to do but the problem has persisted and there’s probably an issue one in four times I make a booking.
One time it happened twice in three days and after walking all over Aberdeen trying to get a car I walked home and ranted to my neighbour who told me the Scottish government is providing interest-free loans for electric cars. So we decided to pay back an interest-free loan rather than the car club.
The car-club is still cheaper than car ownership so if you want to save money then I highly recommend it. But I guess I’m just tired of sharing. It’ll also be nice not to have to worry about getting the car back on time after a walk in the hills. Plus we have a cat now and strictly speaking we’re not meant to take pets in the car club cars.
Another reason is electric cars have come along way over the last few years. When we first joined the car club they could only do about 60 miles. Now they do 150 miles which makes owning them viable. Before it was handy to have the choice of both petrol and electric in the car club – electric for short distances and petrol for long trips – but now I only want to drive electric.
The Renault Zoe is the electric car we usually book with the car club and I like driving it. The boot space is very good for a small car. It’s quite deep because there’s no fuel tank. We got a second-hand one and it’s exactly the same vintage as the ones in the car club so we’re very familiar with it.
There are lots of charging stations in Scotland and plenty in Aberdeen. We can’t charge it at our house because we live in a terraced home and we couldn’t have an extension lead over the pavement. But I don’t think charging will be an issue because there are so many within walking distance of our house. On a fast charger it takes 3 hours to charge. On a slow charger it’s 12 hours.
She’s called Zoe.