“The researchers analysed the total csot of ownership of cars over four years, inlcuding the purchase price and depreciation, fuel, insurance, taxation and mantinance. They were suprised to find that pure elcectric cars came out cheepest in all the mrakets they examined: UK, Japan, Texas and California,” the Guardian wrote**. Last night I stood in the underground garage where my car is parked and it occurred to me that almost none of the vehicles parked there would be around in a decade.
Furthermore, almost no examples of those models would be around in a decade. The few that survived would be those that were already pretty old today: a Mustang, the XM, a Jensen, a Mk1 Miata the XJ-S and the tatty 928 that has recently joined the gathering of metal.
It’s a rule of thumb that cars don’t acquire classic status until they are about two decades out of production. Of the hundreds of thousands of examples made maybe 0.1% get to be 20 years old (probably less for the likes of the Fiesta, Polo and Clio). In the coming years the shift to electric propulsion will mean an intensification of the reasons older cars become undesirable and almost valueless after production ceases.
It’s likely petrol costs will rise, petrol stations will become fewer in number and regulations aimed at reducing air pollution will militate against even more marginal cars alongside all the other existing reasons an old car depreciates in monetary and utility value.
I recently scanned the used prices of a few of my favourite imaginary purchases: the Kappa, 604, Trevi and Citroen XM. I found to my surprise that prices were “firming up” to use Willson-speak. These cars are 20 years old or older. Is there a dawning realisation that the supply of older cars is now reaching a new phase where it is becoming apparent that younger cars are not that interesting any more (I can’t think of a lot of collectible 10 years olds that weren’t already very expensive when new).
That fact is related to the point about future classics being fewer in number both absolutely and in terms of models. That means that 20-year plus cars are now looking more desirable than, say, 20-year-old cars looked in 2007 or 1997. The supply of collectible keepers is already dwindling. The news of the economics of electric cars is only adding to that. We might, thus be near peak classic, if not already past it.
I have suspected this for a while – the changing economics of electric car use is the new part to this story. If there was not this shift current cars would still probably be less likely to be collectible anyway (they are less and less interesting). The fact cheaper running will further undermine the attractiveness of an old ICE car adds to this: the cheapness of maintenance and fueling will reduce the extent to which an old car’s cheaper purchase price can offset the higher cost of running an old car.
And presumably used electric cars will still be cheap to run and buy compared to a slightly older petrol cars. It is the used electric cars that will kill the demand for used petrol cars and so reduce the survival rate in the tricky 20 years interim between last production year and incipient classic car status. Of today’s Polos maybe a few hundred will survive in 2030. Maybe almost none.
The question for today is this: would readers like to suggest “ordinary” 2017 cars that will survive this cost crunch to become the classics of 2030? It will be interesting for me (anyway) to see which suggestions are believable and which ones amount to the clutching of straws.