Hyundai Ioniq Plugin Hybrid

So I have purchased a different car, and it’s my first car-purchase in 14+ years, only the second time in my life I have made a car-purchase on my own, as well as the most expensive purchase of any kind that I have ever made and the most expensive thing I own, by a lot.

So I have thoughts and feelings.

Where to begin. So much is new with this. I’m going from a 2000 Toyota Camry to a 2018 plug-in hybrid. Just in terms of the technology and interface, it feels comparable to going directly from Pagemaker 6.5 to the 2018 release of Adobe InDesign. In all honesty, I don’t think such a leap would be completely baffling. But it would be quite a big adjustment. The 2000 Camry had a substantially analogue dashboard; the 2018 Ioniq is like most modern vehicles, i.e. basically a computer on wheels.

The Ioniq is considered a hatchback (and it amuses me that “five-door” is an alternative term). Typical vehicle styling however blurs most of the difference between this and other sedans, now.

My new car can plug in to “fuel up” from electric current. Public charging stations, even if they are free, hardly seem usable at all without a smartphone. It was only two years ago that I upgraded from an old flipphone to a modern magic rectangle.

In some ways, I think my slow adoption of consumer technology is critical to how I was able to make this big purchase. I have mostly kept my adult life low-overhead, allowing me to save up money despite a volatile and never spectacular freelance income. I laugh at how I use electronic devices nearly as long as Strong Bad, but keeping that laptop/printer/stereo going and going saves money.

I took much the same approach with my first actual good car. Until my 2007 purchase of a Toyota Camry, every vehicle I drove before that was purchased or at least selected for me by my father, most of them definitely fixer-uppers which he could get running but which I’m not sure any agency could have kept running reliably. I had to spend to maintain that Toyota, which I purchased (cash) for under nine grand, but in some years maintenance needs were limited and I never had to make loan payments. I kept it long enough that its resale value settled down to just above scrap, and eventually I reduced my insurance coverage.

Over 14 years I was able to save all that money, and invest some of it, and partly because we have a civilization largely engineered to deliver profit to capital, I began 2021 a little surprised at my total assets.

I would not have chosen to go shopping for another car, all the same, because it’s a stressful process, and the used car market is frothy this year (though not enough to breathe value back into a beat-up 21-year-old Camry), and it’s just a lot of money to spend. But the universe has been sending me messages that it’s time to stop throwing money at a turn-of-the-century vehicle.

Of course, there are cheaper replacement vehicles than what I purchased, but I have been thinking for a few years that my next car ought to be able to move for at least some distance without burning fossil fuels. That complicated things; hybrids have been around in numbers for a couple of decades, and there are used values to be had even with the realities of batteries, but plug-in hybrids are still more of a niche. The plugin Ioniq is not even sold new in Ohio. So even something a few years old would be quite a financial outlay.

I hope that I made a reasonable decision for my personal finances. Compared with every previous vehicle I have purchased, this is much closer to a newish car. Carvana-certified (so far my experience with Carvana has been positive), one owner, under 25,000 miles, some actual warranty still in effect. Obviously depreciation is still the reality, but, I’m hopeful that as EV infrastructure expands, that will offer at least a modest contrary wind. Thankfully Lakewood already has some free public chargers, including one fast charger. (This is especially good since my apartment has a garage, but it’s very old and probably exhibit A for why the Ioniq manual advises against charging from household current at all; the landlords are distrustful of the garage wiring and keep it disconnected unless they’re here and want it for something specific. Yes you could say they ought to just replace it but let’s not go into that right now.)

I feel like it was a sound decision to go ahead with my wish for a plugin vehicle, rather than give in to the temptation of cheaper options. It is really difficult for me to look at recent news and say well, I could afford that plugin vehicle, but I will just buy another dedicated carbon-emissions factory and pocket the difference in price.

Obviously this is relatively trivial, any way you look at it, but just about anything I can personally do about the climate crisis is relatively trivial. Honestly things are beginning to look so bad that I can’t help wondering how much anything matters. This thing seems like it may just be running away from even the best attempts which we might make (but actually still aren’t making), and heaven knows that COVID-19 showed a civilization nowhere close to the kind of coordination which climate emergency will demand. Getting vaccines ready within a year year (as well as distributing them globally which is not going nearly as well) is easy compared with the desperate geoengineering moonshot which a disrupted and divided civilization will probably be fighting over not that far in the future.

In this context, spending a whole bunch on my shiny newish four-wheeled gadget makes sense in a couple of ways. One, why not; why am I worried about saving every penny for retirement lol. Two, I can’t personally do a lot about the climate crisis besides decide how I live out whatever time is left before catastrophe. In all honesty, I can deal with that. I’m nearly 43 years old, I have lived, I have tasted much that future generations may never get to. “My soul is prepared, Dr. Jones.” No real reason to deny myself and blot that soul, just to have some more money sitting there in an electronic account.

One Thought on “Hyundai Ioniq Plugin Hybrid

  1. The first hybrid I bought was a Honda Civic, which meant that I had available very direct 1:1 comparison on costs. When I bought it in 2002, I calculated the cost savings in gas alone would make up for the higher upfront costs in about five years. I recall making those calculations based on $1.50/gallon because I figured the $1.30-something I was paying at the time was bound to go up. 🙂 I never bothered factoring in decreased insurance rates, 50-70% fewer oil changes, or other maintenance costs because that one calculation alone proved it was a good financial decision.

    Obviously, the Ioniq has a completely different type of technology behind it than Civic Hybrid (or the Insight that I drive now) does, but unless you bought a complete lemon, I don’t see how this couldn’t be a “reasonable decision” for your personal finances.

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