Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Where The Rubber Meets The Road...

I feel the need to talk about getting rid of our 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited; the SUV that we moved from Chicago when we moved to Basel in October, 2000. Mrs. TBF HATES when I bring up this topic, but since she is currently thousands of miles away in Bangkok, and probably asleep, I feel "safe" in bringing it up. MWAAAAH-HA-HAAAAA!

I better hurry...she'll be waking up soon!

Mrs. TBF wants to keep the car (although I'm beginning to sense that she is waivering a bit), and I want to get rid of it.

Just to set the record straight, there's nothing wrong with the Jeep at all. It's been very well maintained, "...ja se käy niin ko kello" (...and it runs like a clock) as my dad would probably say. However, I just don't think we really need it. Here are the hard numbers from 2006:

Insurance: CHF 2,517.80/$2,014.24
Parking in our Garage: CHF 2,100.00/$1,680.00
Maintenance: CHF 3,638.00/$2,902.40 (needed new tires last year)
Gas (estimate): CHF 1,200.00/ $960.00
Car washes (estimate): CHF 300.00/ $240.00
Annual road tax: CHF 684.00/ $547.20 (up 25.58% to CHF 859.00 for 2007)
Highway sticker: CHF 40.00/ $32.00

Total: CHF 10,469.80/$8,375.84

Normally, I wouldn't dwell on these numbers like I have (...and believe me, I HAVE!), but there's one thing about the Jeep that really bothers me: we hardly drive the thing.

Last year, we drove a TOTAL of 2,995 miles/approx. 4,850 km. That's right, people...we put less than 3,000 miles on the car in twelve months, and that was INCLUDING a driving trip we made to Burgundy. After doing the math, I came up with the fact that it cost us CHF 3.50 ($2.80)/mile or CHF 2.15 ($1.72)/km.

Here's what I want to do: SELL THE JEEP!

I know that people in North America will gasp at the thought of us wanting to go without a car, but unless you've been to Basel, you have no idea how good the public transportation is. We live about a one-minute walk from the tram station and a three-minute walk from the bus stop. The tram comes every ten minutes, and the bus comes every eight minutes. The tram takes us to the center of Basel in about nine minutes and to the grocery store in one minute.

I figure that with the combination of public transportation, taxis, and rental cars, we won't even miss the car. Heck...we already have tram passes, we already use taxis if we're going to somebody's house for dinner in order to avoid drinking and driving, and we rented a car to go to Siena last year. When we take taxis, the average fare is about CHF 30 ($24). Sure, taxis are expensive in Switzerland, but do the math; CHF 10,000 (I'm not even counting the money we'll get for selling the Jeep) divided by CHF 30 comes to about 333 taxi rides per year which would be more than one taxi ride per day that we're actually at home. I'm actually estimating that we'd need to use a taxi MAYBE three times per week MAX. That would leave a lot of money for rental cars if we want to take a weekend driving trip.

As far as I'm concerned, there's really no economic reason for keeping the car. The only reasons would be ones of perceived convenience. However, I contend that after a few months of not having a car, we'll wonder why we kept the thing for as long as we did.

We're going to be taking a driving trip to the Reims, France (in the Champagne region) in May. I say we put the car up for sale right after that trip.

So, what do you think, Mrs. TBF????

Oh...and by the way...I love you, and you're SEXY when you're angry!!!


Mrs. TBF said...

Since the competent Swiss authorities decided way back in 2001 to put the title of my Jeep in your name only, technically I cannot stop you from doing whatever you want with it. But, I already told you you could sell it after we go to Champagne. I just NEVER want to hear one word of complaining from you when we're having a party and need to buy food and drink and you have to make a million trips to the coop to get it all home!
I'm not angry...I'm seething.

The Big Finn said...

I already do make a million trips to the Coop when we're having a party. That's why I ask for the shopping list a week in advance!
Seething???? VERY sexy!

Mrs. TBF said...

You're a bad man. I refuse to comment further.

CanadianSwiss said...

Ohhhh. I think I'll just stay out of this one... *quietly tip-toes out of this comment box*

Anonymous said...

but TBF, what will you have left to talk to people about if you sell the car and you can no longer tell everyone the whole story and arguments for why you should sell it???


Anonymous said...

I thought we figured this all out when you were in Chicago?

I would get rid of my car, but on days like today when it's 4 degrees I would much rather jump in the car instead of waiting for the bus. Unlike Basel the bus doesn't come every 8 minutes - even when it's supposed to!

Anonymous said...

Although I am a true Suburban Chicagoan and could not live without a car, I have to say if I were you (and thank God I am not
;-)>) I would definitely get rid of the car. Take cabs on your trips to the store. Even at the exorbitant rate it will work out in your favor.

The Big Finn said...

Sara - Don't you worry...I'll certainly find something else to obsess about.

Michael - You're a Chicagoan, dammit! You should walk to work in 4-degree weather without a shirt. Then, you could be like the bare-chested-in-winter Bears fans at Soldier Field.

TMS - Hey, nice soul patch!
I would always just walk to the grocery store since it's less than a ten minute walk. There are only a few things for which I would need to take a taxi. Our American next-door neighbors don't have a car, and they rarely take taxis. Probably the most amusing thing my neighbor uses a taxi for is to go the gas station where the driver waits while he exchanges his empty propane tank (for his BBQ grill) for a full one. Then, the driver drives him back home.

Unknown said...

Sell it, and find a good friend who will take you to Geant if you ever go. Besides that, you don't need it and yes renting a car would be better for those long drives...

Anonymous said...

FYI: have you ever heard of mobility. it's the leading car-sharing company in switzerland...maybe an alternative for you.

The Big Finn said...

A-pete - Yeah, I've heard of Mobility. The problem is that I never learned to drive a car with a stick shift, and I'm thinking that most of the Mobility cars would not have an automatic transmission.
Of course, what better car to learn on than a car that is not your own?