Should I stick with my car choice? I’ve ordered a new Jaguar I-Pace. It’s the latest version of the battery-powered car I currently drive, but it looks like I’ll be waiting a while.
Jaguar can’t tell me when my car will be manufactured or delivered because of the microchip shortage. I’m not good at waiting, especially in a queue that’s indeterminate in length. I placed the order last October and I’m still waiting. Should I cancel and buy something else or sit it out?
Gone are the days when you could buy a new car and, within days, drive it off the forecourt. The rules have changed. Supply issues and increased demand for electric vehicles have increased the waiting time.
With low interest rates, it’s wasteful for all but the wealthiest to buy vehicles outright. Yes, smart money borrows, rents, leases or takes out a subscription.
But then you’re stuck into ownership cycles and condemned to find a new car every couple of years.
High-end fossil fuel vehicles aren’t really an acceptable alternative any more — they have lost most of their status symbol cachet, which explains why you can have a new one now. Only narcissists with more money than sense still go for supercars.
Class buys future-proofed, understated battery performance.
Keeping my existing vehicle isn’t an option. I purchased the car on a three-year deal and don’t fancy buying it outright or refinancing at a stupid interest rate, particularly when I’ve been offered a 0 per cent APR deal on a new one, saving nearly £300 a month.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a petrolhead, but only for classic cars and those designated for long holiday-based road trips. For my main car? I’m all about the electric vehicle. I’ve been a battery car driver since 2009. One G-Wiz (terrible, but fun), two Teslas (brilliant tech but poorly made and sterile interior) and now my Jag. Or is it Jaaaaggggg? Driving electric saves lots of dosh. I’ll admit my smugness has increased in line with rising fuel costs: the £750 annual electricity bill is better than hosing £100 a week at the pumps. There’s no road tax, parking in Westminster is cheaper and there’s no congestion or environmental ULEZ charges either. The economic benefits are clear.
They’re enhanced by the tax position. I’m no expert, but new and unused electric cars are eligible for 100 per cent first-year capital allowances so the full cost can be written off against company profits in year one. And you can recover VAT on leased cars; 50 per cent if you use the car for a mix of business and social. And, yes, there are benefits that incentivise the company car owner too. Get your timing right and kerching!
With interest rates rising, APRs for most new cars are between 4 per cent and 7 per cent. On an £80,000 purchase, that’s a big dollop. So, 0 per cent APR is worth hanging on to.
The decision to stick with Jaguar is enhanced by the fact that they’ve addressed my main gripe. The tech in the first edition was awful. Slow, not intuitive, and often behaving as if it had been unionised in the 1970s: Inexplicably coming out on strike mid-journey, requiring lengthy negotiations or money to get it to function again.
My remaining quibble is the lack of a sliding sunroof. What’s the use of a fixed glass panoramic roof other than to highlight that you park under a sticky lime tree, its branches busy with defecating birds? None. The upshot? Frequent visits to the car wash. But try and find an electric car with a sunroof. They are few and far between!
The Jaguar I-Pace has a decent 260-mile range. And Jaguar really knows how to design a great car. Admittedly, mine looks a bit footballer on the inside with a lot of red leather and colour-changing lights.
That’s because the first owner was indeed a professional footballer. It was a virtually brand-new car, with just 1,000 miles on the clock, and every imaginable extra, all for nearly £20,000 less than the list price. It was an obvious deal which I’d like to repeat but this time with spec of my choosing and new, because of the tax benefits. The Jag has nearly everything I want, at a price that makes sense. And it suits my personality. Not so cheap that my career looks to have panned and not so expensive that I appear to have more money than sense. Understated, if you like. I’ll leave my Aston to do the shouting.
If I leave the Jag deal behind, what are my options? Electric cars fall into three general price brackets. Under £45,000, £45,000 to £80,000, and above. Of the cheapies, a Mini would be fine, if the range wasn’t a measly 145 miles. But it has a sunroof! The Honda e is cute, but afflicted by the same range issues. These cars serve only urbanistas.
Nor do I want a Ford, Peugeot or Vauxhall. I don’t work in a shop. The only under-£45,000 contender is the futuristic-looking Hyundai Ioniq 5. It has a range of 300 miles and is quick charging. As ever, the South Koreans are demonstrating their tech mastery. Until you get inside into a soulless cacophony of plastic. Uncomfortable seats and no sunroof.
In the mid-range of cars, if I had no personality or self-esteem, I could go for a Volvo or its sister manufacturer, Polestar. They have everything you need, but not everything you want.
They look as though they’re designed with Lego in the dark. And their colour palette is a new level of dreary that I haven’t seen since leaving school. Tesla is out. There are too many of them around and their dull cabins are depressing, akin to a doctor’s waiting room. BMW is an option but the waiting lists are as long as Jaguar’s and I’m not an estate agent. An £80,000 Audi perhaps? No. The interiors are every shade of black and oppressive.
If Aston Martin, Bentley or Land Rover offered an electric car, I’d buy one. But I can’t wait until 2025. This leads me to a real contender: the Porsche Taycan (pron. Tie-can). In saloon form it’s a pretty car, but not handy if you have dogs — you can’t put dogs in a boot. However, there’s a surprisingly elegant estate, the Gran Turismo. It’s superbly designed, likely to hold its value and with only two downsides: no sunroof and an APR of nearly 7 per cent. On a £120,000 car, the opportunity cost is two cases of vintage fizz a month.
And there’s another problem. Everyone knows that a Porsche looks fantastic. What they also know is that when you get out of one, you’re a shortened Richard. The car may be cool, but you’re probably not.
Increasingly frustrated, I’ve considered the unusual. For £225,000, I could have a Land Rover electric car lovingly modified by North Yorkshire-based Twisted — but that’s too much money. Or for £80,000, I could pop to the SL Shop and go old school with the Mercedes R107 SL electric conversion. But do I want a sheep in mutton clothing? Not as my primary car.
Do I stick with my decision on the Jag, which is more me, suits my budget and offers a good finance deal, even though it may never get delivered? Or stuff the extra cost and inevitable midlife crisis jokes and go for the Porsche with a guaranteed delivery date. What would you do?
James Max is a radio presenter and property expert. The views expressed are personal. Twitter: @thejamesmax