I travel a lot to help sell e-bikes! What car should I buy?
Thom recently accepted a position as a distributor for a South African e-bike company. He has to travel a lot to visit various dealerships and needs a comfortable ride that’s ideal for hauling bikes and gear. What car should he buy?
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Here is the scenario –
I recently became the US distributor for an e-bike company based in South Africa. Part of my job is to develop a dealer network, which will involve extensive travel to dealerships and trade shows while carrying at least two bikes and display accessories for the shows. It must also be an adequate daily driver with seating for at least three adults and a large dog. I shouldn’t need seats for more than two people when hauling bikes and lounge gear, I don’t mind folding or removing the second row seats as long as it’s a quick enough process and simple.
I would like reasonable fuel economy – I’m fine with a hybrid. Comfortable for long journeys. Space to transport several bikes without too much dismantling. Able to handle unmaintained roads, not a serious all-terrain vehicle, but able to access trailheads on gravel or dirt roads.
Also, I spend 3-4 long weekends a year doing volunteer trail maintenance, I don’t NEED to sleep in the vehicle but I could be helpful. I have a Siberian Husky who sheds an incredible amount, the easy to clean interior is a plus.
No fully electric vehicles. Nothing that requires more than removing the wheels to transport 2-3 bikes locked inside.
I have a budget of up to $35,000
Budget: up to $35,000
Daily driver: Yes
Location: Lakeview, OR
Wanna: Space, comfort, decent MPG
Will not : Something too small or too thirsty
Expert 1: Tom McParland – What you should buy vs what you Can To buy
One of the frustrating things about this car market is when people do all kinds of research and come to the conclusion that a certain model is the best for them only to find that sourcing that car at a competitive price isn’t is not really achievable.
In your case, it seems that the Toyota Sienna is a perfect fit. It has a standard hybrid powertrain that hits 36 MPG and offers all the space and comfort you expect from a Toyota van. A base LE model has an MSRP of $36,555 including destination, so it’s probably worth stretching the budget. However, good luck finding a Sienna on the ground near you that doesn’t command a big markup. You may be able to wait for an order, but it will take several months.
If you want to score something short term, the Ford Transit Connect is probably your best bet. I recently attended the NJ/NY Abilities Expo to research an adaptive e-bike for my wife, most wheelchair/bike vendors showed up with Transits and similar “commercial” style vans. A “passenger” version of Transit will give you a little more flexibility to switch between people and bikes while still getting a respectable 28 MPG highway. The new units are a challenge, but here’s a low mileage used 2022 model directly in your area.
Expert 2: Mercedes Streeter – Bring a Trailer
Reading your requirements, what I really see is that you can get by with a cool car and then handle your chores with a trailer. That’s how I’ve owned over 20 motorcycles with nothing more than a Smart Fortwo as my daily driver.
For your demands for a family hauler that can hold the pooch while saving fuel, I suggest the W124 Mercedes-Benz 300TD. It’s a classic car that still has modern technologies like a multi-link suspension. The Feds say you can expect to get 25 mpg on the highway, but in my experience they’re actually closer to 30 mpg.
The cost of diesel can make this one a tough sell, so be sure to check local diesel prices.
But wait, what about bikes? Well, look at that tow package on the back of this one. Get yourself a small trailer and you’ll be good for whatever life throws at you. And just $7,600 you can go and spend the rest of your well-deserved money on other things.
Expert 3: José Rodríguez Jr. – MPV vs. Nissan NV vs. Frontier
Tom, I promise do not recommend this diesel Mercedes R320, which was my first thought because minivans are criminally underrated. the MB R-Class is better suited for your passengers and Siberain Husky than your e-bikes. And something suitable for e-bikes would be a big Nissan NV cargo van, which would be nice but would blow up the gas budget! Always great and appropriate!
I therefore propose a 2022 Nissan Frontier. I think a new Frontier with a long bed (6 feet) would balance long commutes, daily driving, and reasonable fuel economy while still giving you decent cargo and passenger space. I think of a ’22 crew cab long bed SVwhich can be optioned as a 4×2 or 4×4 model.
The caveat is that the Frontier The 4×4 long bed is over budget, starting at around $37,690. The 4×2 starts at $34,690, which is barely under budget before dealer shenanigans. But if this is gonna be your home away from home and the vehicle you will rely on for a fledgling business, something newer is better!
‘Expert’ 4: Steve DaSilva – For unmaintained roads
look for it practice option, Tom got it right. A compact van is what you really need. But what do you want want to? Do you want to be bound by the chains of mundane practicality all your life, doing only what is sensitive and advised and intelligentWhere do you want inhabit?
I present: a Frankenstein’d 1971/1969 Chevy El Camino on 38.5″ mud tires. There is a bed in the back, which will fit less three e-bikes, and there’s more than enough room inside for even the biggest of dogs if you remove the passenger seat.
The El Camino has the ground clearance for your unmaintained roads, and it makes a statement when you’re riding the trails with your selection of e-bikes in tow. How much easier will a sale be when everyone already wants to talk to you?
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