These are tough times we are going through and lots of hard working people have lost their jobs. Unfortunately so will many more before we’re done with this recession business. It’s hard enough when you lose your job with the thought of launching yourself on a depressed job market, financial insecurity, worry and stress. The last thing you need is the worry of finding a new car on top of all the other problems but that is indeed a reality for many people who have relied upon the trouble free motoring that having a company car provides. For some people after suddenly finding themselves out of work after many years service, and many years as a company car driver, the transition to private car driver can be a painful one. Although the income tax on what used to be regarded as a perk can be very high there is no doubting the luxury of not having to worry about any motoring costs whatsoever. With no capital outlay and therefore no depreciation to worry about, along with road tax, insurance, servicing and in a lot of cases fuel costs all taken care of the sudden loss of the company motor can be little short of devastating.
In this article we will try to guide people who find themselves in this situation into a car which will not only keep their spirits up but will hopefully provide them with a credible replacement to their company car. Pre-requisites will be that the vehicle is cost effective, aesthetically pleasing, great value to insure, tax and maintain but importantly as they are now perhaps spending part of a redundancy package or dipping into savings, a car with strong residuals. If they need to sell after say 6 months when a new job with a company car once again beckons we will want to make sure that the whole operation will not have proved too costly.
So where to begin? Well the good news is it’s certainly a buyers market and if you have nothing to trade and are a cash buyer, there’s never been a better time to buy. For the purposes of this article let’s assume that our subject was perhaps a sales rep who used their car at weekends to do the normal family things (maybe they are married, have 2 kids and a dog). They drive a diesel at present and it has some nice creature comforts such as climate control, CD player, electric windows and is a family sized hatchback. We will assume a maximum budget of £6k for another car and as much as possible would really like something similar to the lovely company car they have just waved goodbye to. We will also assume they will pay cash as the lack of a job and the uncertainty of their current situation for the foreseeable future would not make the prospect of a monthly payment particularly appealing.
So let’s provide some choices and the reasons why we recommend them;
Vauxhall Vectra, 1.8 5dr Life
An old favourite; good specification, well known safe option,36 mpg, insurance group 7, air conditioning, CD player. Buy an 07/57 – or 08 if you can do some haggling – with circa 25,000 miles for around £6-£6,500 the model new was circa £16,000 so is great value for money. Lots of manufacturer’s warranty left, easy to find repairers, sensible maintenance costs and would already have lost its biggest chunk of depreciation. If it was to be traded in within a year the likely loss would be maybe a maximum of £1,500. There are downsides; let’s be realistic, it’s a bit boring, there are loads about so may not be that easy to sell on and it’s fairly basic inside.
MTI rating 7/10
Ford Focus 1.6lx 5dr
Again a good solid choice which won’t let you down, much improved tried and tested engine, good specification with the usual a/c climate and CD etc, mpg 42.1, insurance group 6. Buy 06/56 for circa £6k with around 35,000 miles on the clock. This model cost new circa £14,000, 1 yr warranty left, good size boot and comfortable, reliable and not bad looking. Downsides as with Vectra loads about, not particularly fun but dependable, depreciation probably slightly worse due to constant re-badging of similar models in order to keep Britain’s best seller rolling off the production line. Maintenance over 3 yrs could be circa £800 depending on mileage.
MTI Rating 6/10
Seat Leon 1.6 Essence
Great looking modern design by Spanish inspired VW backed manufacturer, sexy styling, appeals to younger audience but still a great family car, with a good specification including alloys, electric folding door mirrors, and CD mp3 player. 37mpg and Insurance group 4.
Buy 06/56 with 25,000 miles for £6kish with some haggling. Very safety conscious well built solid with many VW parts including engines so will prove reliable. The price new was circa £12,000 so seems to be a value holder. Downsides not many around due to small market share, in the shadow of its famous cousin, fewer main dealers around, maintenance costs and parts will be higher.
MTI rating 7/10
These are 3 great choices for a person that finds themselves in this position and as there has never been a better time to buy a car at least our buyer can get lots of car and spec for their money. When the time does come for re-starting the career and picking up the new company car, they can be safe in the knowledge that the one they have chosen will not have let them down either financially or socially!