Niro or Nothing – Bad Economics?

Okay, so I’ve decided I need a new car, and I’ve picked the one I want. Now, there’s a problem to start with. Where’s my bargaining position, when that’s the one I want? 

And then I go to the Kia dealer and discover that the Niro plug-in/hybrid is flying out of the door so fast they can’t keep a demo around long enough to show it to me. A regular hybrid, yes. The PHEV, no. So I get a test drive in the inferior model, and that’s all. If I want a PHEV, I put down a $500 deposit and when the dealership gets allotted one, I get it. Two weeks to two months wait. A specific colour? Ordered from the factory, $5000 deposit, wait two months. 

I thank the salesman and go home and think about it.

Colour of Cars

Let’s talk about the colour of cars these days. My old Mazda 5 is a perfectly boring medium grey. That was what was available, it cost more for anything with colour on it, and that was it. 

There is no way I’m going to buy a car for 40 grand and get just any shade of grey. And that includes black, white, pearl, metallic, and all the greys in between. Do you know what it takes to find a grey crossover in a parking lot? I had an ugly homemade roof rack on the Mazda 5 that I didn’t take off, simply so I could find the car. Well, it wasn’t that ugly…

Keeping Options Open

So I’m thinking about it, and the Toyota Prius V is still in my mind. I hit the Toyota dealer, and they don’t have one of those on the lot, either, although I’ve ridden in enough taxis to know what they’re like. One major pus: for 2018 they made the Tech Package, which is the trim level with all the safety stuff, standard on all models. You can buy a lot of gas for the three or four thousand bucks we’d save. One minor minus; for some reason the Prius V doesn’t come with the option for Blind Spot Warning, one of my first safety choices. Simply not available. No idea why. 

The Demo

So we let it ride for a week, and I phone the Kia dealer again, and ask if there’s any possibility of getting to see one of these cars. As it happens, says the salesman, I’ve got a lucky customer picking one up tomorrow afternoon. If you come in before 1 pm, you can look at it. Maybe even sit in it. No test-drive, of course. To be efficient, I call the Toyota dealer, and they have a Prius V on the lot, so I make an appointment to see it later on in the afternoon. All the ducks are lining up. We are pathetically grateful, and whip down there. 

And Linda Loves the Car 

Now, I know I’m the one doing all the research, and we make a big joke about me getting a car for Christmas when all she got was a new iPhone, but when it comes right down to it, this is our car, and her opinion counts. So when she said she thought it was great, our fate was sealed. Of course, we didn’t tell the salesman that. 

The Deal

But we sat down with the salesman and twisted his arm for a firm price, not omitting mention of our appointment to see the competition. He did the numbers, and it came out to $41,000 ($2,500 government grant taken into account). And then my cell phone rang. I don’t get many calls on that phone, so I thought I’d better answer it. 

Could it be coincidence, karma, or a setup, I don’t know, but it was the Toyota salesman. He had just been told that Toyota wasn’t making the Prius V in 2019, and the only 2018s available in the province were the leftovers. There was no way he could find me one.

So there we were. It was Niro or Nothing. But we didn’t tell the salesman that. We went home to think about it. 

Standard Procedure

Now there’s one thing Linda and I are adamant on. We never make a big purchase on the spur of the moment. We always sleep on it. We are the bane of vacuum cleaner and timeshare salesmen, because they work on the pressure sale, We never fall for it, as a matter of policy. 

So we waited a couple of days, and then called the Kia salesman back. Yes, we were interested. I’d come in the next day and order a car.  Also, I wanted to know what they would offer in trade for the Mazda. 

As Simple as That? Well…

So I walked into the place the next day, sat down with the business manager, and asked him to do the numbers. Now, every car we have ever bought from a dealership, at the “Talk to the Manager” point the car has suddenly gone up in price. Fact of life. Also, I have never got anywhere near what my old car was worth on a trade-in. 

So I wasn’t surprised when the manager told me he could only give me $2000 for the Mazda, and we agreed I would keep it. And I also wasn’t surprised when the price zoomed to $42,700. 

How can this be? Oh. Well, the salesman forgot to include the dealer “Delivery and Destination Charge.” Or some such crap. The manager was apologetic, the salesman was devastated. And I was suddenly not so interested. 

At which point the owner of the dealership showed up. So now I had all three of them nattering at me. Now, I’m not going to go through the whole thing with you, but there was the matter of extra snow tires on rims ($1300) and a roof rack ($300) which they would maybe deal on and yada, yada, yada. 

And I didn’t say anything. I just looked serious and shook my head. 

Finally the business owner said, “What can we do to make this sale? What would make you happy?”

I said, “I came in here today expecting to sign the papers at $41,000. That would make me happy.”

Well, he couldn’t quite do that, but he could get a deal on the winter tires, and if you’ll take a white car that I have available…etc. 

And finally I said, “You know, I think we’re going to work something out, but I don’t feel right. I feel like I’m making a decision for the sake of stopping all this anxiety. So I’m going home. Phone me tomorrow, and we’ll talk.”

And that was it. He finally said, “What if I eat the whole $1700 D&D charge?” 

And I said, “That sounds good. Call me tomorrow.”

And I got into my little old Mazda 5 and drove away. 

Inspiration Strikes

And I didn’t get two blocks down the street before I realized that, since we weren’t selling the Mazda, we already had a decent car with winter tires, so the winter tires were not really in the deal. It cost me $800 for tires and rims for the Mazda, so I could probably work with a tire sales place for much cheaper than $1,300. And why would I put 2 X 4s on top of a brand new car, when I had a roof-rack (and not too ugly a roof rack) on the old car?

And I hadn’t gone more than a couple of kilometres when I remembered that I was going to have this car for over ten years, and if I went for a colour I didn’t like, I’d regret it for the whole ten years. 

So when the owner called me back the next morning, I told him how I felt. He offered me the car I wanted for $41,500. $5,000 deposit, two months wait.

 I went in and put down the deposit. So now I have to wait while they ship my own special car from Korea, probably in late March. But I’ll have the car I want. And I’ll have six months to find snow tires. 

The Cost? 

$1300 less than list price. $500 more than I had hoped. When you’re buying in a seller’s market, I guess that’s the best you can do.

The Bonus

A PHEV qualifies to drive solo in the HOV lane. I do that about once a month, but what the heck?

PS.And the kicker? I got a message last week from the Toyota salesman saying they had several Prius Vs that just came available. I didn’t call back.

PPS — Bonus Deal, $11,000 off!

Yes folks, courtesy of your BC Government. If you buy a full electric vehicle (PHEVs don’t count) you get $5000 off the top. If you trade in any old gas guzzler you have driven for 6 months, they will give you $6000 for it. The “Get the Junkers off the Road Program.” You can buy a $1000 junker now, license it for 6 months, then buy an electric car and cash in for the whole 6 grand.

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