I will save more than 500 CHF/month by changing my car!

In this new post, I will try to explain to you the reasons that pushed me to change my car and especially how I managed to do it (it is not an easy task). First of all, let’s set the context of my situation before this change on my mind.

Initial context

First of all, you have to know that I have always loved cars! Since I was a kid, I’ve always been attracted by cars and it’s probably due to the fact that my father was a mechanic and that we always had nice cars at home. Not to mention the car exhibition every year in Geneva! As soon as I was old enough to drive a motorized vehicle, I never missed an opportunity!

  • 14 years old: Moped: a Piaggio and a Maxi Puch that we fixed and sold.
  • 16 years old : Scooter Gilera Runner 50 cc.
  • 16 years old: Supermotar Husqvarna 125 cc.
  • 18 years old: My first car. A VW polo 1.4.
  • 23 years old: Supermotar Husqvarna 650 SMR.
  • 24 years old : Kawasaki z750.
  • 26 years old : Car Citröen DS3 THP Sport 1.6.
  • 30 years old: Car BMW M140i xDrive 3.0.

Anyway, I don’t need to draw you a picture, but I could probably draw a linear curve combining income / power / price of the vehicle… For your information, the nice BMW cost more than 70’000.00 CHF and like any good person who thinks emotionally instead of rationally, I took a leasing at 559.00 CHF/month for 48 months at a rate of 3.9 %. For the price, here is a picture of the beast.

BMW M140i xDrive – 3.0 L, 6 cylinders, 340 HP

Why I want to change my car ?

Without doing the precise calculation of the costs related to this vehicle, I knew that it was expensive and that it was more a luxury than a need. Below are the steps I went through to come to the conclusion that I needed to change my car.

Step 1 – Triggers and consciousness-raising

So why did I decide to change my vehicle? In my case, I started this reflection following two major events:

The arrival of Baby GP made me quickly realize that this car was very limited in its space (trunk volume). This was not a blocking factor, but it’s always frustrating to have to lower a seat to be able to put a simple stroller in it.

I would say that it was the second point that was really the trigger that made me make this decision. When I started doing an accurate budget with YNAB, I made a point to itemize the “car” category. I couldn’t believe it when I saw that I was spending more than CHF 1,000/month to get around

  • Leasing : 560.- CHF/month.
  • Insurance : 165.- CHF/month.
  • Fuel : 240.- CHF/month.
  • Vignette : 3.33 CHF/month.
  • Parking : 8.30 CHF/month (estimated at 100 CHF/year).
  • Maintenance: 25.- CHF/month (estimated at 300.00 CHF/year -> washing, windshield washer, tires etc.).
  • Taxes : 60.83 CHF/month (730.- CHF/year -> thanks to my 3.0 L + F energy label).
  • Total : 1’062.46 CHF/month!

This number is just unbelievable! And I’m sure I’ve been very kind in estimating only CHF 300.00 per year for maintenance, because the years when I have to change the tires, it costs me more than that! 

Step 2 – Digesting the news and asking questions

This awakening was brutal, but nevertheless beneficial. For several days, I turned over these questions in my head: 

  • Why do I spend 1’000 CHF/month to get around?
  • Is it a real need? A pleasure? A mixture of both?
  • What are the compressible costs? Fixed costs?
  • Do I really need a car?

My conclusion was that I was spending so much only by pleasure and not by need. My need to travel is obvious, but to drive 8 km to work and to visit my parents and parents-in-law, I did not drive more than 400 km / week and rarely more than 20 minutes per trip. I had no need to have 340 horses… 

How do I choose my new car

Once I was convinced and mentally ready to take the move, I started looking for a new vehicle based on new criteria that did not leave too much place to emotion, but mainly to rationality.

Desired characteristics

In order not to be influenced by my affinity for certain brands or my preconceived opinions, I started by listing the attributes I wanted for my new car.

  • No leasing! Never again. Maximum budget : 15’000.00 CHF.
  • A break! Just to have some charging space.
  • A vehicle with a solid reputation (history, warranty, price of parts and maintenance).
  • Low consumption: less than 6 liters/100 km, energy category A or B.
  • Bonus: under warranty if possible.
  • Desired equipment: air conditioning, cruise control, blind spot detection, heated seats, DAB+, Bluetooth, integrated GPS.

Of course, I knew that it would not be easy to find a vehicle that had all of these features while staying within my budget. I was ready to make some compromises on the equipment part, because I knew that some of them were purely for comfort like the heated seats. 

Initial research

As I have subscribed to many blogs about frugality or people inspiring to be FIRE, I started to read these different resources to see if some people had already asked themselves the same questions as me. Of course, the recommended vehicles vary quite a bit depending on each person’s needs and especially on the country (a Honda 3.0 L is “frugal” in the USA…). The conclusion I drew was that everyone chose a car that suited them by prioritizing the main attributes that were needed. Here are some examples: 

I found plenty of other vehicles that varied depending on one’s needs. Here are my findings :

  • Toyota’s are really popular because of their reliability.
  • Very few people choose SUVs.
  • No cars with 4 wheel drive.
  • The majority of the cars are used and bought with cash.

Second round of research

With these information in my pocket, I was ready to do some targeted research on anibis, autoscout24.ch, etc. After several days of research, comparison and exchange with two friends working in the automotive industry, I moved towards a Toyota Auris Touring Sport Hybrid.

To be honest, nobody around me drives a Toyota so I didn’t have much of a way to get another idea. If you look for a particular vehicle, you start to notice them on the road and I saw that a lot of people were driving this model or the standard version (not the break).

Other findings on Toyota:

  • A lot of taxi drivers drive Toyota, especially the Prius. In Geneva, you only see this.
  • Swisscom uses the Toyota Auris Touring Sport Hybrid for most of its fleet.
  • It is not uncommon to find used Prius or Auris with more than 300’000 km.
  • The Prius is seriously the ugliest car on the planet…  #beurk

These three additional findings gave me comfort in my choice. The fourth one (#beurk) is a purely emotional observation that I wanted to share 🙂

Presentation of the car

So why did I choose this vehicle? Simply because, after a rational and non-emotional reflection, this vehicle was the one that matched the most my selection criteria.

AttributesStatus
In the budgetYes -> used from 2016, less than 100’000 km for about 14’000 CHF
BreakYes
ReputationToyota is known for their reliability
ConsumptionHybrid engine. No plug needed, category A, < 85 g CO2/km, < 5 L/100 km
Warranty10 years or 160’000 km!
EquipmentEverything I want is available in theory (on the options catalog)

This convinced me! At this point, I was very happy that I was able to find a vehicle that fit what I was looking for and that I did it in a reasoned way and not on emotion. Here are some images of a 2016 model.

So yeah it’s not the most modern and sexy car out there but it’s the one that I think really suits my daily needs.

Find the right opportunity

At the moment, I have not yet bought this vehicle, because I am waiting to find a very good opportunity. Thanks to the excellent website comparis.ch, I was able to subscribe to a search filter that allows me to receive an e-mail automatically as soon as a new car corresponding to my search appears. I can also compare the real value of the vehicle with the market. Comparis does all this work for you and allows you to quickly see the “grade” of the vehicle, something I would have to do manually if I did not use this site.

We can very quickly get an idea of the selling price of the object in relation to the market price. In addition to this very good indicator, it is possible to see the evolution of the price of the vehicle which can also give us indications on the motivations of the salesman and the history of the ad.

By comparing several of these indicators, we can quickly get an idea of the supply and demand for a specific vehicle on the market, which allows us to adapt our purchasing strategy and also to know if we have margin for negotiation.

Year and mileage

When buying a used car, there is always the risk of buying a bad car and ending up with a bad deal. That’s why I put a lot of emphasis on the reliability of the brand and the warranty benefits. Knowing that I drive about 15’000 – 17’000 km / year, the right compromise for this purchase was a car with the following characteristics:

  • From 2016 -> Guarantee until 2026 so another 5 years.
  • About 90’000 km. So still 70’000 km under warranty which corresponds to a duration between 4.6 and 4.1 years.
  • Price between 12’000 and 15’000 CHF

I will not detail the coverage of this warranty, but it protects me against any major manufacturing defect which allows me to buy and drive this car serenely for over 4 years!

Estimated savings

Before buying this vehicle, I did some basic estimates to visualize my potential savings if I made such a change.

Cost centerBMW M140i xDriveToyota Auris Touring Sport HybridSavings
Insurance165.- CHF/month (La Mobilière)59.- CHF/month (SmileDirect)106.- CHF/month (64 %)
Fuel240.-CHF/month (10.2 L/100 km)120.- CHF/month (5.1 L/100)120.- CHF/month (50 %)
Taxes60.83 CHF/month (3.0 L + energy label F)38.75 CHF/month (1.8 L + energy label A)30.08 CHF/month (51 %)
Leasing559.10 CHF/month0.- CHF/month559.- CHF/month (100 %)
Total1’024.93 CHF/month217.75 CHF/month807.17 CHF/month (78.75 %)

I find these numbers impressive. Even if they are not exact, the potential savings per month are over 75%! Of course, I have to take into account the fact that I have to put out a large sum of money to buy the vehicle and then I would also have to take into account the depreciation of the vehicle. 

Another important point is the maintenance costs which could also vary slightly, as I would have to pay for everything myself, which was not the case with BMW where I only paid for the liquids. But even taking these values into account, the potential saving rate remains high and surely more than 50%. 

Regarding the insurance, I will see when the time comes if I take a full or partial insurance. Indeed, with some insurances like SmileDirect, the difference is very small. I will detail the choice of my insurance in a dedicated post. 

One car for the GP family?

We also weighed the pros and cons of having only one car for our family. After much thought, we feel that having two vehicles is necessary for our current lifestyle. Here are the two main reasons: 

  • Saving time to go to work :
    • Mr. GP : I have 8 minutes to go to work by car against 40 by public transport (11 minutes by bus, 9 stops + 30 minutes by foot). Including the return trip, I would lose at least 1 hour per day.
    • Mme GP : She works in Vaud. 30 minutes by car against 1h40 by public transport in the best case.
  • Need to transport Baby GP to our grandparents and daytime mom: Three times a week, we have to take Baby GP left and right to be looked after when we are both at work. Moreover, as Mrs. GP leaves home at 6:00 a.m., I am in charge of bringing her and Mrs. GP takes her when she returns.

To summarize, we are not ready to have only one car for the moment, especially with a young child. Without a child, I would surely have considered buying a scooter instead of a car for me. To be continued 🙂

Conclusion

As we often see on similar blogs, transportation is really an important source of costs for the Swiss and for people in general. However, public transportation is not always advantageous depending on your place of work and pace of life. In my case, I had contracted a leasing in order to be able to drive a car that I wanted. I don’t regret this choice, because I was able to enjoy it. I also don’t regret having dared to take over my emotional thinking in order to arrive at today’s decision. 

All I have to do now is separate myself from my beautiful BMW and move forward to find that perfect opportunity.

I’ll be sure to give a feedback after 3 months with my new vehicle and especially to validate that the different theoretical calculations I made here are not too wrong 😉

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