When my husband Phil and I moved to France, our plan was to buy a car after a couple of months. We knew we wanted an electric car, and not being fans of new cars, we wanted to buy used. I began researching online in February 2022, only to find that used EVs were rare, and nothing of interest was available. Our research had convinced us that a Hyundai Kona met all of our criteria, and by April, we’d resigned ourselves to buying a new car, so off we went to the dealership.
At the dealership we test-drove a Kona, and we loved it! The one we wanted, with lots of bells and whistles, would have to be ordered, but it couldn’t arrive in time for us to benefit from the 6,000 euro government subsidy, so we settled on a similar model with fewer options. It would be delivered in July, so we paid our deposit and eagerly awaited delivery.
Guess what happened? July came and went. So did August, September, October, November, and December. Each time I called the salesperson, who spoke no English, he said, “Il est en retard.” Yes, we knew it was late, thank you.
By January we were tired of waiting, so I made an appointment with the sales guy to find out what options we had. There was no way to ascertain when the car we’d ordered would be available, so he began searching for alternatives. And he found several—all of which were significantly more expensive than the Kona!
Finally, he found a Hyundai Ioniq that could be delivered in a few days. Even though it was the most expensive car we’d ever bought, we decided to take it, sight unseen. “This is likely the last car we’ll buy,” we thought, “so why not get a really nice one?”
The car was delivered, it looked beautiful, and off we went, excited to finally have a car and a bit nervous about driving in Montpellier.
A week after buying this car, I had major buyer’s remorse. The car is too big for Montpellier streets and parking spots, and it has a lousy turning radius. Today, now that we’ve had the car for a couple of months, my remorse has softened. It’s a very comfortable car with a smooth ride, large cabin, and many, but not all, the safety features we wanted.
So, what did we learn from this experience? Here are our lessons, offered in the hope they will help other car buyers:
- Do more research! Find out what is available not only in your town, but in others nearby.
- Be aware that due to global shortages, the bigger new batteries for EVs are significantly delayed. That’s why the Kona we ordered never arrived.
- Consider a hybrid, if you’re willing to compromise. We were not, and that limited our options.
- Be mindful of your area and driving conditions. Our large car will be great for road trips, but it’s not suited for driving in congested areas where roads/parking spots/garages are narrow.
- If you’re buying an EV, consider charging options. Our kind landlords installed a charging outlet so we can charge at home. We also secured Chargemap, which helps us plan and pay for charging on trips.
- Set a budget and stick to it. We went way over budget, and in retrospect I wish we’d visited other dealerships and considered other cars before deciding to splurge on the Ioniq.
- Consider safety features. Our car does not have blind spot assistance, which I miss.
- Be sure to test drive your car, and check out all the features as well. We did not test drive the Ioniq, and we didn’t know, for example, that it must be locked with a key (the locking feature on the door panel only locks when you’re inside the car). That’s a tiny annoyance and wouldn’t have stopped us buying the car, but it would have been good to know about it.
- Think about size. Our Ioniq just barely squeaks through our driveway with the side mirrors folded in. The first week we had it, Phil scraped one of the mirrors while descending into a parking garage because he forgot to fold them in!
- Once you’ve bought a car, give it time. After the first week I had nothing but regret about buying this car, but now I like it, and I can see a future where I will grow to love it!
If you are motoring in France this year we wish you a safe and wonderful journey. If you find a stop worth recommending – do let us know in our Facebook group.
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In early 2022, Sandy Shroyer retired from her professional career. Her jobs have included cooking for hired ranch hands, serving as a community mental health center staff psychologist, performing various leadership roles in healthcare firms, managing a lot of highly successful sales executives, and selling technology and services to health systems and health plans. The best part of her career was people—those who became lifelong friends, those who irritated her into learning important lessons, and those who taught her things through their kindness and genius. Her superpower is connecting people, whether it’s professional networking, introducing friends who become friends with each other, or just figuring out who might like to know someone she knows. She tried never to miss an opportunity to have fun at work. Sandy and her husband traveled full-time in the United States during the pandemic, and they are spending their retirement in Montpellier, France.
All articles by: Sandra Shroyer