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Old 03-13-2022, 10:34 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Need help picking out a car when I move overseas

Hey folks, I'm relocating from the US to New Zealand later this year. I'm strongly considering taking my Insight with me, but there may be some... ahem, regulatory hurdles, given that it is left hand drive, and has a fire-breathing 2.4L engine under the hood. It's still more efficient than all but a handful of gasoline vehicles out there. In NZ's mild weather and low speed roads, I'd expect ~50mpg to be realistic.

As a kind of mid-life crisis change, I was considering a Miata, but fuel efficiency is a major concern. I'm pretty inspired by MetroMPG's thread, seeing him able to squeeze out 50mpg+, while also having a convertible (which I miss) and a car that can get sideways or slide around in a parking lot should I choose to burn some fuel irresponsibly. A 2002 Miata in the 'states is rated for an abysmal 23 city / 28 highway. They're geared a bit taller over there. You can also find the later cars with the older 1.6 engine, while they only came with a 1.8 in the 'states.

I'm going to absolutely butcher and mix up units and currencies in an attempt at equivalency, so bear with me. Also assume that my income would be similar in absolute terms both here and there.

The conversion rate is around 1.5 NZD for every 1.0 USD. Current fuel prices are ~$8 US per gallon, or $11.70 NZD per gallon, or $3.10 NZD per liter.

Nissan Leaf - 0.19kWh / km, 0.20NZD per kwh, 0.038 NZD per km
Mazda Miata - at 30mpg (?) 7.8L/100km - $3.10/L - $24.18/100km - 0.242 NZD per km.

At 12k km / year (average for someone there):
Nissan Leaf - $456/year NZD
30mpg Miata - $2901/year
27mpg Miata (2002) - $3107/year
36mpg Miata (2016) - $2417/year
50mpg 250HP Insight - $1740/year

The cost of fueling a Miata may be around 6-7x higher than a Leaf. The cost of fueling the Insight would still be around 4x higher.

Something like a Honda Fit (~45mpg) goes for about $1500-3000 NZD.
My Insight, sold in the states, could likely net me ~$21,000 NZD. That buys a lot of fuel.
Miatas start around $9000 NZD for one in reasonable condition.
A Nissan Leaf could be anywhere from $9000-$20,000 NZD depending on age and miles. I'm wary of an older one due to battery degradation.

Given how expensive fuel is there, and how cheap electricity is, I'm thinking I'd be daft to try to own a gasoline car. My Insight would be less bad. I feel that if there were an electric rear wheel drive convertible at a similar price point, it would be a no-brainer. On the other hand, the quality of life argument for a Miata is compelling - when I had my Del Sol, I drove with the top down nearly every day - but the difference in fuel cost basically buys a used Leaf every 4 years. I could always drop a Honda engine in the Miata and tune it for lean burn, and get an honest 50mpg at a cost of maybe $10,000 NZD plus the car, and have some tire shredding on tap.

I know these are not apples to apples comparisons, but I'm looking for some feedback and outside perspectives.

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Old 03-13-2022, 11:12 AM   #2 (permalink)
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The Honda Fit looks like a clear winner to me. Or was the price a typo?
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Old 03-13-2022, 11:17 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blacktree View Post
The Honda Fit looks like a clear winner to me. Or was the price a typo?
No, that's about correct. A pile of dirt of equal mass would likely be more expensive. Granted, it would be an automatic at ~$1500. Manuals with low odometers look to start around $3000 NZD. I'm not sure how I'd feel about driving an automatic though.

EDIT: An additional possible factor is that something like a Miata has hit the bottom of its depreciation curve, and it ought to retain most of that value as long as it is maintained. It does tie up money. The Fit and Insight, likewise, are not going to depreciate further. I'm unsure of the future of a Leaf, given battery degradation. The $20,000 Leaf will probably become a $9,000 Leaf eventually, whereas the $9,000 one will likely lose its useful value without a battery replacement at some point.
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Last edited by Ecky; 03-13-2022 at 12:54 PM..
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Old 03-13-2022, 03:13 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Converted classic?
https://www.thesurgery.co.nz/service...e-conversions/

A cheap Fit could just be temporary until you figure out what you want/need.
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Old 03-13-2022, 05:03 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Converted classic?
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Old 03-13-2022, 05:08 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Gasoline Fumes View Post
Converted classic?
https://www.thesurgery.co.nz/service...e-conversions/

A cheap Fit could just be temporary until you figure out what you want/need.
An interesting idea. $40,000 is a bit more than I was intending to spend. I know I like the Fit, I guess I was just hoping to find the intersection of fun and frugal. It's a shame Miatas aren't more economical.

There's always the option of a Del Sol with a lean burn D15 engine, I suppose.
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Old 03-13-2022, 05:27 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Looks like in 2013 the Fit got a new hybrid system in other markets that the US never saw. In the Japanese market, it was rated at 85mpg (highest of any car at the time). Their fuel economy figures are famously inflated, however.

https://www.trademe.co.nz/a/motors/c...ing/3492827170

Not sure what the final bidding will end at, but it's currently at $6300 with 150k km. I might keep my eye out for something like that.
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Old 03-13-2022, 11:02 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Are there Kei cars in NZ? Cappuccino, Beat, AZ-1?
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Old 03-13-2022, 11:06 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Gasoline Fumes View Post
Are there Kei cars in NZ? Cappuccino, Beat, AZ-1?
Now there's a thought.

https://www.trademe.co.nz/a/motors/c...ing/3496999367

https://www.trademe.co.nz/a/motors/c...ing/3507034726

Looks like there are also Kei vans. Lots of options.
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Old 03-15-2022, 12:44 AM   #10 (permalink)
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According to New Zealand Ttransport Agency, your Insight is eligible for import there, as it's more than 20-years old and its GVWR is below 3.5 tonnes. But you could also consider getting a Kei van, there are even some 4WD ones which are really cool.

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