So, I'm still thinking about a new vehicle. Even though gas is under $3/gallon here in VA, it's still expensive running the Earthf**ker every day back and forth in traffic. I'm getting under 14 MPG and going through a tank of gas a week, and while it's costing less to fill that tank, it's still way more money that I would like.
Not to mention, the truck is 8 years old and has almost 100K on the clock. While it's running great now, it won't be long before time takes its course and things start needing to be replaced. On top of that, it's got the archetypal rust starting to poke through on the fenders (which pisses me off to no extent, mind you. For 7 out of the last 8 years this truck has been garaged all winter long. The wife's Accord lasted 10 years with ZERO rust).
Yes, fixing the rust and dealing with problems as they come up is undoubtedly less expensive than a new car payment. I totally get that. I'm going to try to run the Dodge for at least a couple more years - I'm thinking that around 125K or so it's going to be due for new tires and brakes, and that gives 2 years for the rust situation to shake out, as well. I may reassess and decide it's worth dropping money into new tires/brakes/etc., or it may be time to trade the Earthf**ker in.
At some point next year, we should see the Elio hit the market. If - and this is the kicker - the price of $6,800 is correct (plus or minus a little bit; I'm willing to pay extra for an automatic transmission, frex) *and* the mileage is even close to what they're claiming (84 MPG highway seems very optimistic, although 49 MPG city seems possible), I will bring one of the little Elios home. At $7K give-or-take it can be financed painlessly over a couple years, three max, and having the Dodge relegated to once-a-month and bad-weather driving will significantly extend the life.
But we're all about planning, y'see. If for whatever reason the Elio doesn't make it to market or deviates substantially from the claims, I want to be ready for that possibility. As much as I dearly love the idea of a three-wheeled enclosed motorcycle (YAY HOV LANE!), I'm not going to pay Polaris Slingshot money for one. And that's without a cover that would enable me to drive the Slingshot year-round or even in the rain.
So, what does it boil down to? Sadly, the days of owning a pickup will be over should the Elio not happen. There are just too many good small cars out there to take the gas mileage hit - the last time I put money down on a big truck, gas shot up to $4 a gallon. I figure if I pick up a fuel efficient car, we'll see gas prices plummet below $2 a gallon for sure... While I really like the Toyota Tacoma crew cab, it's both more expensive than I need and the mileage isn't there. No truck comes even vaguely close to what I'd be looking for.
What then? Well, it would be a small car, like the Nissan Versa or the Toyota Yaris. The Yaris doesn't have a sedan version (strike one) and is considerably more expensive (like $2K, not counting the automatic - strike two). Other options are the Mazda 2, which is the same price as the Versa, but doesn't have a sedan and gets considerably worse gas mileage (28/34 city/highway compared to the Versa's 31/40). There's the Honda Fit, which again doesn't have a sedan version and is slightly more ($800) but offers slightly better gas mileage (33/41). The Civic brings the sedan, and the HF version gets the same gas mileage, but the price veers over $20K.
Again, a lot can change in two years. If gas prices take a sharp uptick, fuel-efficient cars start to become a premium, and gas-guzzling pickup trucks and SUVs are harder to move. That makes selling a 10-year old Earthf**ker harder and finding a reasonably priced econobox harder as well. If gas prices stay low (under $3/gallon), then the reverse should hold true - small, fuel efficient cars look less attractive when gas isn't terrifically expensive. Two years can change a lot of things...
The really hard part comes if I get offered a lowball figure for the Dodge. I'm willing to walk - heck, the Dodge is a result of me walking out of a Toyota dealership because they out-and-out lied to me about what they would give me for my Durango - but if the third place makes the same lowball offer, there's gotta be a reckoning. Is it worth holding onto the Earthf**ker and maybe getting a stripped Kia rather than trading the Dodge in and getting a Civic?
Now, I really do hope the Elio comes out on schedule and close to as promised. I can live with a few MPG off estimate, especially highway - my commute, while 90+ highway, is city mileage with all the stop-and-go. If the city is close - and the 1990s Geo Metro XFI got something like 45 MPG in city driving - that's a *HUGE* boost for me. Going from 14 MPG on a good day to 45 would cut my fuel bill by 1/3.
Do the math time: 200 miles a week by 50 weeks is 10K miles a year. At 14 MPG, that's 714.3 gallons. At 45 MPG, it's 222.2. Even at $3 a gallon, that's a savings of nearly $1,500 a year in gas alone, just from the daily commute. If I kept the Elio for 5 years, I would break even just on the gas used to commute at $3/gallon. Yes, it doesn't cover the cost of insurance or taxes, but those would break even just on the reduced wear on the truck (or close enough to it). Not to mention that sweet, sweet HOV lane...
Price also factors into the equation. The Elio is a dream at under $8K. At $14K, not so much - it doesn't have the creature comforts nor the carrying capacity to justify the price of a new Versa sedan. I don't see taking the Elio up North for a bloggershoot, that's for certain. They're pitching it, smartly, as an "and" car - as in, I have a [regular vehicle] *and* I commute in an Elio. They bring the Elio to market at ~ $7,500 (figure a little extra for the auto transmission) and it gets 60/45 (highway/city), I will snap one up so fast it'll leave a vapor trail out of the dealership.
If I can pick up the Elio for close to what's been proposed, I'll do it in a heartbeat and keep the Ram for weekends and bad winter driving. Having a pickup is awesome for all sorts of reasons - taking TheBoy camping, hauling a trailer, making large item purchases, etc. It's paid for; by the time the Elio is out it will have been paid for nearly four years. It won't owe me a thing. If I can drastically reduce the wear and tear on it, it should last another five years without breaking a sweat.
The hardest part will be not giving it to TheBoy when he gets his license - and believe me, there is no way on G-d's Green Earth I am handing the keys to a 350HP, Hemi-V8-powered truck with a cap on the back to a teenaged boy...
That is all.