Archive for April, 2006

Car Sharing

Car sharing in our troubled times.

You need something newer than this!

Road pricing will be a “done deal” soon after Galileo provides the EU with their own sat-nav (GPS) satellites in 2009.

Long before then a litre of Petrol will be a luxury that senior company CEOs will buy for their wives on their wedding anniversary. OK, perhaps I exaggerate a little, but I hope I have your attention!

What’s to be done? Car sharing may be the answer. But the conditions will have to be strict and well thought out. If not, there will be constant argument.

First of all, there is the purchase of a car. The best method to avoid argument is to sell all your own cars and buy a car for this particular deal. Ideally it should be a new car and one where the manufacture gives a three year deal on servicing.

Then a separate bank account requiring three signatures should be opened. So bills can be paid if one of the members goes on holiday. Two signatures can get a “charge of collusion” which is why I suggest three. Then the expenses are worked out, plus a goodly extra amount for depreciation and possible repairs and accidents added. This should be divided by four and each family should make out a standing order for this amount to the new account. Standing orders should go in each month as it should avoid bad feeling if people have to chase for the money.

I also suggest a £50 penalty if someone has an accident where the cost cannot be covered by a third party. If one of you is the driver of the car and the car is off the road in someone elses “time”, then your next use of the car should go to the person who has lost out for the same persiod, always from the bigging of your period until the time has been made up. If the other person pays for the repair, whoever loses the time has to bite their lip and put up with it. This is fair.

Then a period of time should be worked out for each to use the car each year. To avoid further confrontation, what ever period is agreed upon – I suggest a week starting from midnight Thursday so each may go for long weekends now and again – and this should be worked out annually in advance.

My suggestions is, whatever day you start, work backwards to January 1st that year. Take turns strictly alphabetical by family name. And make a calendar until the end of that year. If after July 1st, carry this forward to the next year as well. OK the first user may only have it for a day or so until the Thursday night, but it is fair and in the longer term won’t matter a jot.

Now we have a new car, with funding going in by bankers order each month, and we know exactly when it is our turn to have the car.

All that is left is to swop days when we want the car when it is in someone elses entitlement.

Swopping days with people can lead to bad feelings if the other person suddenly finds he needs the car when he has arranged to let someone else have it to “pay” for his earlier swop.

The best way is for people to “buy” the car for the day they need it. Take your monthly payment. Multiply it by 12 and divide the total by 365. This is the cost for “buying” the car for a day – off another member of your group.

This way the transaction is then ended immediately you hand the car back and if anyone wants the car on your day and you don’t need it, they can “buy” it off you and each transaction is complete and there is no occasion for problems.

At the end of the three years, if you have estimated depreciation correctly, you will have enough money in the account to trade in the car for a new one.

There are warnings here. Everyone must understand that their only “entitlement” is their allotted week. If they want the car on other days they have no “rights” whatsoever, even if they are prepared to pay whoever has the car that day. The other problem is under-estimating depreciation. Overpay rather than underpay this amount as you can always have a great party when you renew your car if there is money left over.

When you open your bank account, also open a high interest savings account from a reliable bank. Ing – the huge Dutch bank has a UK Internet savings account where they pay a goodly interest. Usually around the bank rate. Higher accounts are around but make sure they are large well-established banks.

Andrew Taylor

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