Garbage Collector


The little space of a writer, tinkerer, and a coffee addict

One month without a car

One month without a car
A Lego car

Two years ago, I’ve switched to an electric car. So far, I’m still persuaded that I won’t switch back to petrol car. The driving is smooth, also powerful, the silence is enjoyable, and no need to wait at a gaz station regarding my usages. Love it.

But last month, I’ve had a misfortune : a flat tire.

Shit happens.

flat tire

This lovely thing was on the road, thanks to civil engineering on the way to work. It held during all the day, I was just hearing a noise understanding I’ve walked on something. At first I thought it was a small stone. Eventually arrived at home, in the parking box, maybe because of the floor coating, the screw got removed by itself and the tire flatten.

pssshhhh

« Oh fuck »

(genuine reaction)

A good thing it happened at home actually, a Friday evening.

Anyway, first I’ve called my car insurance. As expected, they couldn’t intervene because I haven’t subscribed the whatever option for this specific case. That’s basically why I don’t want to search for a more expensive offer : you will pay anyway for nothing.

Of course, as it’s common for modern cars, no spare wheel, just a repair kit. Regarding the size of the screw, I didn’t want to waste it trying to repair the tire. So I was thinking if I would buy a spare wheel that would allow me to brought the car to the garage so they’ll fix the tire.

I’ve done my research during the weekend and all sites said : « not compatible with your car ».

Dammit.

On Monday, I’ve called the garage that maintain my car (since it’s a long duration rental, I have the maintenance included in the contract). The lady on phone wasn’t able to answer me if a spare wheel existed for this model. It’s a 18 inches wheel for an electric car which is heavier than normal (my Cupra Born weights 1.7t). But the reason was because they couldn’t access their internal spare parts store because of « IT issues ». It reminded me something.

The next day (because I’ve forgot) she called me back, saying it doesn’t exist for my car. That explained. But she put to my attention that since I’m doing the maintenance on agarage from the brand, I could call Volkswagen’s assistance (as Cupra is one of their brand, based from Seat) that could intervene to repair, or take the car to the garage. Good I thought at this moment. She gave me the number and I’ve called them immediately.

« We don’t find your car in our system, just a moment please »

Of course, IT remains IT.

A few minutes later, the lady on phone arranged me an appointment with a guy that could come home and repair or take away my car. The appointment was taken for the next week because I wanted to profit being in home working day.

Meanwhile, the good news is since I’ve moved to a new home, I’m closer to my job and I can go on bike there. So I wasn’t really impacted by having an immobilised vehicle.

The rescue guy called me almost a few minutes after I’ve hanged up with the assistance service to set the appointment BTW. I was impressed !

The next week, the guy arrived. He inflated the wheel, repaired it, and told me to go to the garage because it was just temporary. It was « fixed » in just an half a hour, perfect.

Back in my apartment, I call the garage to know if they have some room to take in charge my car. Not really but we can take an appointment. Since I was using my bike so far, it didn’t bothered me to wait more.

« Ah, there’s something else », she told me on phone. Some quality issues the maintenance must fix when they take in charge a vehicle. Not a recall campaign, or I would have been informed, but some fixes. « It’s battery related » she said, and she was worried that the car would have to be sent to a specialised maintenance center with an estimate of ten days duration. And since their technician working on electric vehicles wasn’t available until 2 weeks (yep, 2 weeks !), they couldn’t take in charge my car.

What The Fuck I’ve said to myself at this moment ! For just a flat tire, I was risking to immobilise my car more because of a manufacturer quality fix. Of course, they would have lend a spare car. It reminded work, actually. For a simple application change, having to rethink the whole architecture because everything’s now different.

Anyway, I’ve took the appointment for two weeks later. In any case, if they take the vehicle in charge, they have to fix the various quality issues found since. Or they would be legally responsible for accidents.

Meanwhile, my only vehicle was still my bike. A bike I’ve converted to electric in 2020 BTW (post in French). Going on work with it, going on groceries with it, getting wet with it too.

wet trousers

I’ve bought rain bike trousers since. Believe me, in the North of France, it worth the investment.

Going at work using my bike was really nice actually. The trip duration was almost the same as in car (I’m not really far away and already experienced when the weather got warmer) and aside from my town, the whole way is correctly dedicated and secured for bikes. Which is something quite rare, actually, here.

Also, you almost never stop. I have three traffic lights to pass thought, but as I have a special lane, I can go without thinking about the cars. It’s freaking faster actually.

So, yesterday I’ve brought my car to the maintenance garage, hoping the temporary fix would hold, and went back with a replacement, having no idea how much time it would be immobilised for the battery quality intervention and the wheel fix.

I’ve asked for the replacement car only to go to the garage, it’s too far away.

At the end of the day, I’m called by the garage : it’s done and I can go take my car. What a relief, because I was already imagining having to manage the follow up, and making a complain at Cupra to ask them to take in charge my rental subscription. Again.

Yes, because it happened once. As I’ve shared in the article about my car switching, the Born had a manufacturer defect at its delivery, the heating wasn’t working. During this moment, Cupra provided me a rental car free of charges, but renewed everyday… And I wasn’t informed to know when the car was ready or not ! During this immobilisation time, I’ve made a complain at Cupra so they would pay for the credit associated to the car. Because it was their fault as it was a manufacturer defect. The problem ran for half a month actually. They did took in charge half of the monthly fee. If the battery quality fix would had immobilised the car for a long time, I would have made the same request.

Anyway, today I’ve have my car back. I’ve took it on the morning and went at work with it.

But, during this experience, it confirmed me something I already knew inside me.

I don’t need a car anymore !

Thanks to its electrical assistance, my bike have a nice range of action (the battery can stand around 30 kilometres, and I don’t use at maximum power, just to limit the effect of the field and the wind) and I have enough local shops to ensure my usual supplies. And going on groceries with my bike was already something I did regularly.

Also, today, going at work with a car was a fucking pain compared to my bike ! It was slow, always stopped, the starting inertia from traffic lights is terrible, the erratic behaviour of the other cars on the road is terrible. Seriously, everything’s faster on bike for me !

So what I’m thinking, and this experience confirmed it, is I don’t need a car. For a bigger range need, I’m thinking about taking an electric motorbike. Such as the Super Soco TC Max that have around 90 to 100 kilometres range and very good reviews, it would be enough for me. My driver license allow me to drive a 125cc (equivalent for an electric) motorbike, I just have to take 7 hours mandatory lessons at driving school.

Of course there are some use cases that would require a car, or a bigger range. Such as transporting big things, or going far away.

For the holidays, there are no questions : I don’t use my car today for this. I take train. Nothing would change.

For the rest, it’s usually planned trips. I have four car rental services around me, the question is rapidly answered : I rent one. Costly ? Absolutely not ! My monthly fee for this car is 400€/month. Even renting a car for a weekend at 100€ (I have no idea of the cost actually) would be a benefit. And the electric motorbike costs around 5 000€.

So I think when the long duration rental of my Born is over, next year, I won’t renew or take a new car. They’re expensive, too much constraints, it’s over for me. The project will be to switch to an electrical motorbike. And if I really enjoy it, I’ll do the driver license allowing me to drive more powerful models with a bigger range.

I still have time to think about it, and also thinking about the equipment (helmet, jacket and gloves are mandatory in France for this size), and also planning how I’ll manage it. I won’t be able to store a motorbike in my car box (the car itself barely fits, and the Born is not a big one) so I’ll have a period without transportation way. The bike could be delivered too, or some colleagues proposed me to do it for me also. In any case, having the bike before taking the mandatory lessons would be necessary so I can practice on my parking. Anyway, some thinking to do.

But so far, I think my mind is already set for this decision.

🚲 > 🚗


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