EXPATS AGAIN! Experiencing other cultures while enriching our global view.



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Munich, Germany
I am married to the love of my life and am finally able to shower him with all of the attention he deserves. I am now retired and living the life here in Europe. I am an American, he is an Australian, and this is our second overseas address. The first was Shanghai, China and now Munich, Germany. Come along and live the life with us as we continue our adventure of discovering all Europe has to offer.

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Thursday, January 27, 2011


Once we decided to stay in Germany permanently, my husband promised me that I could get a car.  For those of you who don't know, I've been using my feet and a bicycle for transportation for the last two years. 

I reckon I've paid my dues and I don't look forward to any more multiple shopping trips with a trolley bag or a bicycle basket for the next undetermined amount of years until the hubby retires.

So, let the shopping begin!

He has a VW Golf in mind, but I have a different VW burning it's image into my brain and I can argue that my chosen vehicle can far out perform his in mileage and in limiting our carbon footprint on the planet!  How is that for purchase power!

Until he can locate a brand or model that can out do this one, I'm fighting mightily for it.  Did I mention that it consumes as little as 0.9 litres of fuel per 100 kilometers and emits just 24 grams of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide per kilometrer!  YEAH BABY!

Oh, and I have been ever so inconvenienced patient.

Here it is in all of it's glory!

The will be damned, I'm spending the kids inheritance one luxury item at a time.  Hey, somebody has to keep the economy going.  It might as well be us me.

Scroll down to see my new dream car.

                                 Volkswagen XL1 concept promises 260 mpg

Although it only promises a top speed of 110 mph (and no, I could never drive over 75 mph, not even on our frightening autobahn), it is unlikely I will get this anytime soon.....

It isn't due out until 2013.  Ah la mah!  

(Oh, and to my reader Headbanger, this is another luxury problem.  But how to prove that the ends justify the means?  Oh well, I have two more years to save think about it. )



Formerly known as Frau said...

Wait so you are waiting another two years without a car? Funny I barely survived our two years without a car living in Germany. But that is what I miss most the adventures in the rain and snow with a basket full of food...tram rides with my starring contest and running for the buses....I laugh now but cried than. That was my deal if we stayed another two years I wanted a car! As an American people were shocked we didn't have one.

Expats Again said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Expats Again said...

Had to delete my comment above. It was filled with typos, my apologies. Frau, I will absolutely not wait another two years. I wrote in jest, but it would be awesome to own such a car. However, I am a practical woman, at the very least. So, I will begin my search for my Golf soon. I so relate to your adventures in transportation in Germany. And, like you, the Germans just can't believe an American is here without a car. It is possible, I tell them, but highly improbable. You and I might be the last remnants of the holdouts.

The Honourable Husband said...

Hmmm...justifying a new car, on environmental grounds. Not a luxury problem, so much as an interesting conundrum.

Every car, no matter how environmentally sound to drive, damages the environment simply by being manufactured.

If you drive a lot, then a more efficient car repays its environmental debt quickly, and it's worth buying the latest.

But if you don't drive very far, or very often, or very fast, then it will take quite a while to repay the debt to the environment caused by its own manufacture.

If you are interested in decreasing your carbon footprint, then I would search for a used car...and if you can find one in a private sale that's not being replaced by its current owner, so much the better.

Any late model small car is a good choice...but the most important thing to remember if you wish to be environmentally responsible, is to buy a diesel car. Ideally, one that's 3 years old or less, with so-called "blue" technology. You will be shocked at how good the gas mileage is.

Diesel cars are a bit of a stretch for many Americans--they're noisier than we're used to, especially at low speeds. (The noise difference at autobahn speeds is negligible). And they suit manual transmissions a bit better than they suit automatics.

The Golf (or Audi A3) is a good choice, and very, very fun to drive. But some of their diesel engines strike me as a tad truckish.

For my money, I'd spend a little extra and choose a BMW 1-series or MB A-Class. BMW equipped its cars with stop-start engines earlier than the others, I think. But I find the A-Class seating position and exterior vision much better--besides, you can tell all your stateside friends that you drive a Merc. Owners love their Minis, too. I've driven many Peugeot 307s, too, and the're a blast, if a little quirky. You may be tempted by a Fiat 500; it's a Ford Ka under the skin, if that doesn't bother you.

Gasoline or diesel, you can't go wrong with a small European car.

Viel Spaß bei autoscout24.de!


P.S. BTW, I recently bought a car, and spoiled Australo-American that I am, I just couldn't bite at a diesel.

Expats Again said...

It is an interesting conundrum, isn't it. I suppose more so if I had unlimited funds. The articles I've read have not given any price quotas as yet.

I showed it the the hubs and he immediately said, "OH! A Batman car!" I read where it WAS designed based on the Batman car. It is very interesting, design-wise, from the rear. I might find a photo to post.

I agree about any car, "just by being manufactured, has already damaged the environment." I have tried to justify this too. I have a 2009 Honda CRV with less than 30,000 miles sitting in my garage back in the states. My son takes it out for a spin once a month, but other than that, along with my walking in Munich for two years, I figure I have quite a few carbon footprints in reserve. I could continue to hoof it, but....

Here's the rub. I don't drive far or much at all. I could't even contemplate navigating Munich's lack of parking space to go from point A to B.

It's public transportation for me all the way. But, having said that...when you need to bring home a Christmas tree, or cart a kayak across country, or simply take a weekend drive to new places, you need a car.

(Not exactly sure a kayak can go on the top of a VW Golf though.) We most likely will put a bike rack on the back and drive to some great destinations and sample the wine between bike rides though.

So, with that in mind, I think your advice to find a used auto through autoscout-24 is the best way to go. I really appreciate your having gone through this process and weighing in on the pros and cons. I am going to share this information with my husband.

As for me, the diesel would not be a problem, sound wise. But, I hate the idea of being "truckish." It is the ONLY complaint I have about the Honda CRV...even the Toyotas I test drove had a snappier pick up. I would be afraid in a car that didn't have any punch when I needed it.

You made a good point about the seating position and vision in the Golf or Audi 3. I noticed today, while walking to the S-Bahn a few new models and it seems like vision may be a bit restricted. Having driven them, how do you feel about this issue?

Our son was an Audi service manager in Brisbane and speaks very highly of the one you recommended, so I think this vehicle will be on the short list also. We love the mini, but how in the world do you transport anything in the small trunk/boot area? We booked one for a weekend to bring home our flat screen TV (one of the smaller ones) and couldn't fit it in the back of the mini. Oh, but how much fun are they to drive....so tempting.

Can I ask what vehicle you chose? My husband returns Monday and the search begins. Full disclosure then, lol.

Thanks for the great advice. I can't fault your logic one bit.

The Honourable Husband said...

It's always a pleasure to talk about cars. Coded on the Y chromosome, I believe.

Now, I can tell you what a German couple in your position would do.

Those in the marketing trades would call you "empty nesters", and a German empty nester couple would look for a 3-Series, C-Class or A4 diesel station wagon.

Perfect for roof racks, especially bike racks. Not too big to maneouvre around the city, but comfy for weekend touring. A little extra space in the back for Christmas trees, but in truth, there's not much difference in usable boot space from the sedan versions. And there are lots of them about.

A friend of ours is an engineer who actually used to design engines for BMW. He and his beloved are pre-nesters, and they opted for just such a car...an early 2000s 3-Series, in the just-superseded shape. He believes it has a better engine than the current one.

My car? Alas, EA, in asking that question, you will reveal me to be a hypocrite.

Mine is a company car, so policy dictated a number of things...like, for example, that it had to be new and not used. I ended up with an MB E350 coupe. A luxury answer to a luxury problem, about which I certainly can't complain.

At your husband's level, I would be surprised if he weren't entitled to a comapny car, too. There are big tax advantages to this, and it relieves you of the tiresome burden of registering a car under the byzantine German laws that govern such things.

But even this is not completely straightforward. For example, the leasing firm we use refuses to lease white cars, because the resale value is less!

If I can be of any help, don't hesitate to drop me a line. Good luck!