More on a lighter footprint

I have written before about the opportunities created by our move this summer, for example in 42: A lighter footprint. Our move is coming close now with about a week to go.

So today we took a big step in lightening our footprint. We have moved from two cars to one. One step further to a longer aim of one day becoming car free.

Key to this was finding a car that would have much of the economy and costs of our small Citroen C1 while providing as much of the capacity of our large Citroen C8 as is needed by a family with 3 tall sons.

In the end we managed a two for one part exchange (sadly a considerable top-up was required) and now have a Citroen Berlingo Multispace with family pack (h'mm pity the name is so long). So this gives us 7 seats (room for Mum and/or girl friends) or a generous sized boot. Yet the running costs and environmental impact (Fuel, Vehicle Excise Duty, Insurance, …) are all much closer to the C1 than the C8.

It would have been hopelessly costly (financially as well as environmentally) to run our C8 as an only car with the prospect of many short city journeys (eg from one side of Leicester to the other in order to take mum out for a while). On the other hand we could not all fit in the 4 seat C1 and it could not have a towbar so caravanning would have been impossible.

The Berlingo might look ugly and is not going to be exciting to drive but neither of those are high priorities (indeed quite the opposite, given the goal of driving much less, a car that you want to show off or that is fantastic to drive would have been positively unhelpful).

Two key things have made this change possible. 

Firstly, downsizing from our big twin axle 6 berth caravan to our small five berth folding camper (Dandy Designer). So we moved from needing to tow about 1600kg to around 400kg.

Secondly, the move from Raunds in the Nene Valley Circuit to Syston in the Leicester North Circuit coupled with the changes in the needs of the family. We no longer need to get a son to and from a 6th form and county music service both 20 miles away. Jane no longer needs to work somewhere that makes getting a son to a distant school convenient. The Leicester North Circuit is far more compact and so means I should be able to cycle rather than drive (for example I have had 2 Churches 10 miles from home in opposite directions. After the move nowhere in the circuit is more than about 7 miles away and the Churches I serve are much closer).

We have had our Citroen C8 for 6 years and it has been a great family workhorse, superb for holidays and carting around lots of people and stuff. But with nearly 100,000 miles on the clock and different needs it was no longer appropriate.

We only had our Citroen C1 for 2 1/2 years. We bought it to be a cheap (environmentally and financially) way to get to and from Northampton far too many times a week. Having bought it with only 10,000 on the clock after one year, we did rather more, averaging about 1,500 miles per month. Beyond the original need we used it whenever we could, even for longer journeys as it was so much cheaper to run than the C8.

Now we hope the Berlingo will provide good economy (something over 40mpg overall) with the space and flexibility we need. First signs are good it is the smallest and cheapest 7 seater car we found that fits our two younger sons in the back row. Some of the alternatives were amazing (not in a good way though) for example Jane and I nearly killed ourselves trying to climb into the 3rd row of seats in a Toyota Verso.

It certainly feels a lot lighter to be able to go back down to only one car. However, we do recognise that in absolute terms it is far from a great environmental example that we are setting. I would love it if we were able to take the further step of this being our last ever car. I hope that improvements in public transport, dramatic improvements to the cycling infrastructure and options for car pooling over the next few years might allow that dream to become a reality.


3 thoughts on “More on a lighter footprint

  1. Gary

    You’ve also conveniently got a little railway station round the corner, that gets to Leicester in about 10 minutes.
    We had a Berlingo from a previous generation. It’s certainly cheap to run and maintain – just a bit van-like to drive. Hopefully the new ones won’t have that problem so much.

  2. Dave

    Agree the station is handy, middle son will use it for school.
    So far Berlingo not too van like. Mind you compared to the VW camper we once had things have moved on a lot ;)

  3. Berlingo

    It’s good that manufacturers are now trying to make 7 Seaters more economical. It’s ironic that people with large families need the cheapest car to run. The Berlingo may be an ugly duckling, but who cares, it’s the money left in the pocket that matters.


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