We originally planned to import our car once we’d been able to get residency, as that was the (then) cheapest option and we like our car; it’s a solid reliable runner with many more years in her.
But then at the start of this year the Italian government introduced an eco tax on importing diesel vehicles - only cars, and only private cars, not vans or commercial vehicles - and given the size of the engine we'd have been looking at an extra €3,000 on top of the import charges. Not to mention that we'd be losing our no claims bonus (they don't travel so well) and insurance on the car would have been in the region of €1,500 - €2,000. So we'd have been looking a potential €6,000 to keep and run our car.
We just couldn't justify that. We don't have that kind of cash spare!
Theres a legal time limit on getting Italian plates following residency. Even if you’re only domiciled here and not legally resident you still gotta have an Italian car within a couple of months. So the clock was ticking. We didn’t make the 3 month deadline but the local authorities know us and no-one has been getting on our case… we’ve at least had a chance to let the insurance, tax and MOT expire on the Mondeo which somehow feels like less of a waste.
Finally we’ve found a car that we can afford AND fits our criteria.
2nd hand cars in Italy are more expensive than in the UK. The general cost of insurance is higher, too. Then there are fees for the change of ownership but as the forms are notoriously lengthy and/or difficult it’s easier to use an agency who in turn add their costs. (It cost us €425 to change ownership on this). We knew all of this which is why we’d planned to import our old car but that turned out to be prohibitive.
We’ve been lucky and found this methane/petrol hybrid for under the market value. We bought it from a mechanic who was selling it on behalf of his client. It's had one owner, a family, and we know its history and how well it’s been looked after. It’s the same age as our Mondeo but is in better condition with less mileage on the clock. We're mighty happy.
Methane is a common fuel type here, as is LPG. It’s far cheaper to run (€11 to fill the tank, which does about 250km) and we’ll be saving around €50 a month upwards on fuel which is most welcome.
Methane is also a biofuel, a renewable resource, with lower emissions. We’ve a refill station around the corner but it’s easy enough to find here anyway, certainly a lot easier than in the UK. A methane car was our priority but they’re proportionally more expensive than other 2nd hand cars due to their low running costs, so as I say we’ve been lucky.
There are tax incentives here on buying new methane cars, which is encouraging. Same for LPG I believe. But the cost of 2nd hand methane cars isn’t so encouraging; a 2nd hand diesel car would cost a lot less. It just goes to highlight that unless you have enough money to spend in the first place you don’t get to benefit from reduced long term costs or a lower carbon footprint.
The new car is Citroen Berlingo, a van-car with all the storage - we’ve had a roomy estate car for years and going forward being able to use the car for more than just school or airport runs was a must. Ours is not one of the higher end models so it doesn’t have all of the extra cool features but it still has more storage than the average car and Tom has been keeping himself busy finding various hidden compartments. We’ve friends who work for breakers so we're going to put word out for spares and see if we can’t soup it up a bit.
There's still a couple more things we need to do to complete residency but sorting out the car has been the most urgent and most costly. The other things can fall into place now and shouldn't take months to sort out. And they certainly won't make us illegal if we don't do them tomorrow.
We should be ready come 31st October.
And now we need to scrap a perfectly good car, as it’s not cost effective to take it back to the UK and sell it. Brexit continues to be mighty costly and bittersweet.