Personal Transport

  It may be said that mode of transport is the third basic human need, besides the first two primary ones- food and shelter. God has equipped almost all living beings with mobility, except most plants. Animals primarily use their own limbs to move around whether it be movement on surface, water or air. Most of them an inbuilt system to take assistance from forces of nature such as air and water currents of various types to augment their mobility. But is the human being who has developed transportation systems which are not limited by the physical capabilities of movement. In fact, systems of transport and mobility today are a source of enjoyment, leisure, convenience and adventure. But they come with their complexities and choices, with financial and other aspects associated with each.

While those involved in commercial transportation have their own ways and means to carry on with the type, found most suitable. It is the personal transport needs which vary, and need much deliberation and thought. This article attempts to throw light on some issues connected with the subject. Middle class is probably the biggest segment which most often addresses this question.

Personal mode of transport in most urban areas today in India, are two and four wheelers. In bigger cities cars are the most preferred mode of personal transport. Selection of a car is my view is a very important aspect of urban life, second only to the decisions made in profession, marriage and housing. Prior to the nineties, the choices were limited but now Indian roads are zooming with global vehicles which has made the question about choice of transport more complex. We have divided the questions into various sub parts in the succeeding paragraphs.

Besides the mode of transport, cars have also been a source of ego and esteem for its owner. Just like the address or the house you live and own, cars also add to the esteem, status and glitter which goes with a person. Somehow over the recent years the address of a person has become more of a signifier qua his status and the awe associated with a car has diminished significance. This has happened due to the options of finance that are now available in purchase of a car. You would notice that while you fill address column in most of the forms and communications whether business or personal, you are rarely required to state about the car you own. In present times of scarcity of parking space, while visiting an office or any other premise, you would get to park the car mostly beyond visible range of the person you are visiting. In my view the cars today do not substantially add or diminish your significance in the eyes of the people you interact with in normal course of life.

Value of real estate normally does not diminish substantially with passage of time but that of a car does, at-least @10% pa in India. So while buying a car the major considerations behind decision making are convenience and economy. Some of the cities e.g. Chandigarh have already started contemplation of a policy wherein purchaser of a vehicle would be asked to furnish certified parking availability before a car could be registered in his name.

Is it the time to buy a new car ? – We stand now at year 2018. On road arrival of electric cars is expected by the year 2020. The Government of many countries are contemplating total stoppage on production of purely bio fuel vehicles. The technology has already advanced sufficiently to reach the stage of commercial production of electric, hybrid and even hydrogen cars. In my personal view the wait of two years is worth unless there are pressing needs to buy a car. If that be the level of need, then also it is a wise option to buy a used car, rather than a new one. A new car with electric or hybrid technology is going to be the call of the day in cars market which is likely to settle down in economy of rates and initial hic ups only after a couple of years since expected initial launch in 2020 in India so I would not recommend buying a new car till then and manage with the old/used ones.

Petrol or Diesel – My choice of a personal transport vehicle is clearly a Petrol vehicle for the following reasons:—

  1. Petrol vehicles are lighter for a given size and segment.

  1. Better suspension and braking systems than their diesel counterparts.

  1. Lower cost of routine maintenance- various expendable parts such as filters – oil, air and fuel, engine oil, batteries, suspension systems including rubbers parts, are cheaper and need replacement after a longer duration in Petrol vehicles than in Diesel ones.

  1. Longer life of tyres in Petrol vehicles than in diesel ones.

  1. Lower cost of acquisition.

  1. More comfortable and easier to drive than Diesel vehicles.

  1. There is only a meagre difference left between the cost of petrol and diesel fuel. As calculated from the prevailing rates of petrol and diesel, fuel cost per kilometre stands at a meagre difference of Rs 1.00 more on an average between the petrol and diesel variant of the same vehicle.

When calculated cumulatively per kilometre operating cost of petrol vehicles is almost equal and sometimes cheaper when the vehicle does not cover more than 2000 kilometres a month than its diesel variant.

Big or Small-The size does matter equally whether in an urban environment or in highway running. What would determine the answer in my view is the size of the family which needs to travel together. Normally people associate size of the car with the financial position of a person. It should instead relate with the size of the family and the number of persons who are expected to occupy the vehicle. It is sometimes a good option to go for one small and another bigger vehicle for long travels with luggage, if buying the second one in the family.

Normally, men fancy the bigger vehicles and would somehow find a justification to decide in favour of the same. However, if long distance travel is not too frequent, say not more than 4 times every year then a smaller one would serve the purpose better and it would be better to hire a taxi according to the need of long distance travel.

Smaller vehicles are easy to manoeuvre, park and maintain. Their running spare parts are economical. Damage or accidental repair is also low. The insurance costs are lower. They are a better option both in economy and convenience.

Sedan or SUV :– It takes something extra for an SUV before it can match the comfort of a hatch or a sedan. Most adventure lovers think that it is worth to go for an SUV for those few hundred kilometres or may be thousands leaving out a Sedan. Nothing really matches a Sedan in comfort and luxury. The low centre of gravity ensures fast yet stable and non- bumpy ride in varied road conditions in a sedan though it falls short of a SUV in road view. Sedans are preferable over SUVs for the following strong reasons:—

  1. Low Centre of Gravity ensures better stability and road grip in a Sedan.

  2. Though with a disadvantage of inferior road visibility qua an SUV, Sedans have a more aerodynamic frame which ensures better mileage and lower fuel operating costs.

  1. The suspension systems of a Sedan suffer lesser and fewer damages due to lesser length of torque arm of displacement from its mean positions as compared to an SUV.

  1. Spares parts of Sedans including tyres have a longer life span and cost cheaper than those of an SUV.

  1. Space management and utilization in a sedan is far better than an SUV which facilitates better manoeuvrability, ease of overtaking and parking for same or higher passenger and luggage space.