Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Changing both of the family cars for 2014, phase 1

This is what the Nissan leaf looks like, that we took a test drive in, in December.

For years, our cars/vehicles have been, 1 white Mazda MPV (regular minivan) and 1 little red Subaru R2. Both bought and paid for in cash at the time we bought them. We didn’t buy them new granted, but they were just a couple years old, when bought and really low mileage at the time, when we bought them. The MPV, perfect for taking long drives like to Osaka and Hakone and Nagano type trips and for trips to the airport for carrying mass amounts of luggage. The little red car has been perfect for my everyday car, we bought the little red car right before Noah started yochien because we knew that I’d be driving back and forth, from yochien everyday with Noah, from our town to the small city nearest us, so for us, the little red car has already served it’s purpose already, meaning Noah is in elementary school in our town and so I drive way way less. So anyway....
Ever since the March 11th earthquake. And one day I’ll type out and write an update about that. But for now, what I will say is, after the horrific earthquake, besides there being a food shortage, milk, whathaveyou.  Gas for our vehicles was superly hard to find, and when you could track a station that was selling gas and not all sold out or temporarily closed, the lines were hours long! @.@ Yes, that is something we have not forgotten. I think the earthquake in a way, was a factor in our choosing to get our solar panels for our house, I have mentioned that already that it was a factor. And the gas shortage for vehicles has also, never been far from our minds either.
For the past year, we have been thinking about getting a new water boiler, for our home and we will be getting a more eco friendly one this year. Also, we have been deciding to change our cars for the past year as well. For starters, we have been deciding to get either a hybrid or a 100% all electric car. That has been the biggest decision. The choice for our particular family was between the Toyota Fielder (hybrid sort of like a station wagon meaning roomier but a modern looking one) or the Nissan Leaf (100% electric) The thing with a hybrid though.... is that it still needs gas. Granted much much less gas, but yes... gas all in the same. However, with the all electric car...if god forbid, another huge earthquake ever goes down.  And there is talk about that Nankai trough going to be even bigger then the Tohoku quake, not sure if any of you keep up with fault lines etc, but yes there is talk about that one being a definite possibility. So if a huge earthquake does ever happen, gas shortage wouldn’t be a problem for us, and our car could get power from our house, we have already checked. So, though we are not 100% certain and it’s not carved in stone as of yet, we are 98% sure it will indeed be an all electric car. We have already taken a test drive, the power when you step on the.... well technically it’s not a gas pedal anymore...so I guess you could say the "go peddle", lol. It is hella powerful. It has a lot of get up and go. And so the 100% electric would be my mama cruising car. Doing all my grocery store shopping to and from the, cheap meat store, the bakery, JA to get farm fresh eggs and veggies, Costco run, etc. There are also charge up stations near here, like at the mall nearest us for example, so, I could shop or go to a movie with friends and charge my car at the same time.
White license plate (standard car), yellow license plate (light weight car/kei car). In America getting your yearly registration or "license plate renewal" even if you drove a rather nice car, it was still only a couple hundred dollars to get your yearly registration for your car. Here in Japan, it’s by weight and size of engine, same as America but the cost difference is huge between how much it would cost in America for the MPV for example as to what it costs to register it here, same type of vehicle. Yellow license plate cars are cheaper to drive, my red car is around 7,000 yen for my yearly car tax. Where as our bigger MPV, had a V-6 engine and so it cost our family $1800 US every 2 years because of car inspection, weight tax and car tax. Yep, isn’t that an insane amount of money to own a white license plate car??? @.@ My family in the US couldn’t believe it, when we said $1800 to renew our car stuff. Our MPV needed renewing in April 2014, so another $1800 US would be approaching in a few months. And so that sort of gave us the push we needed to get the ball rolling. Noboru and I both sat at the table in November, should we keep the MPV or sell it? If April gets here and we pay the $1800 insane price, then we should just keep it for another 2 years.  So we knew it either had to happen before April, or stick with the MPV for another 2 years. So now or never so to speak. In December, we sold it. So the MPV is gone. Again, when I said December was slightly busy, yeah I wasn’t kidding, selling the family minivan was also on the list of stuff going on. : )
Also, we would love to have 2 yellow license plate cars. Why? Because of the cost to have them! We would never want 2 white license plate cars, let’s put it that way. Can you imagine two $1800 bills every 2 years? Yikes! @.@ : ) However...1 yellow plate and 1 white plate is totally doable. And more than likely what we will have.
The Nissan Leaf and Toyota Fielder would be a white license plate car. So since that will be a white plate car, we wanted our 2nd car to be a yellow plate car, so we decided to get a mini minivan, 4WD and a turbo, same thing as what we used to drive before we had the Mazda MPV. So as of right now, the plan is to have a mini minivan (super tiny) but 4WD which means we could still cruise it to Hakone in winter and the turbo means we wouldn't’ feel like we were cruising a vehicle with a lawn mower engine. So it would have some get up and go. We have since bought the mini mini van also, but have yet to pick it up. It is near Osaka and Noboru will be leaving this week with his 3 days off in a row (since he gave up that 1 day for his coworker during New Years) and that gives Noboru time to go and get the car and bring it back to Chiba. It will be much tinier than our MPV, however it will cost annually only about $70 US a year for car taxes and the other inspection on top of that... the total would be only about $300 every 2 years, including weight tax, inspection fee and liability insurance for 2 years so pretty cheap, same costs as our red car) And we still get to drive everywhere in it because it’s a 4WD and a turbo too. And we have already paid cash for it, since we hate the idea of making payments on stuff, when we can pay cash for it instead. It may not be brand new, but we own it and no payments. : )
So, it will appear that we have 2 yellow plate cars for the time being, my red car and the "new to us" mini minivan. But...our next move is to bide our time and in May or June we will buy the electric car. We are only waiting because....we don't want to jump too fast and we know there is another 100% electric car coming out soon and we want to see how the new 100% electric car that Honda is making compares to the Leaf...the Honda Fit EV. They’re out already... but not available for regular customers/general consumer yet.
Nothing too earth shattering here, but we’re happy....and we’re super happy we won’t have an absurd $1800 renewal in April. If we’re going to spend $1800, it would be nicer to spend it on nice family vacation...or toward a water boiler, you know what I mean, something that really benefits our family in the long run.  So the next step is selling the red car in May and buying ourselves a barely 1 year old Nissan Leaf. Or a brand new Toyota Fielder or Honda Fit EV. So upgrades all around... just smarter spending when it comes to our car renewals and stuff. And for what it’s worth, because the next car will be electric the white plates will be much less than the MPV was, since it was a gas vehicle. And it does vary from car to car the price, but yes white plates are more expensive than yellow plates. But factor in, we won't be paying gas for our new white license plate car, so for us it will be cheaper owning that.
Anyway just wanted to keep you all updated. but the cars are being switched and changed this year, in 2014. : )