For many years now, the constant rise of the road-tax (or license as we call it here), has made me wonder many times why I put up with it?
As somebody who is not a real car fan (unless it is Formula1 racing!), I am at great pains to really work out why a 3-metre tiny car with a Euro5 emission rated engine should pay nearly three hundred euros for a road-tax, which, added to the approximately two hundred euro insurance, brings the total amount to nearly five hundred Euros.
I have no doubt that it is a deterrent so that people will no longer buy imported cars from second hand dealers, but obviously enough, fill the already rich local new-car importers with more money.
Be that as it may, a car is always good for emergencies, and seeing that the local bus service is nothing to write home about, it is indispensable. (Catching a bus from Tarxien is like fishing. You KNOW the buses are there, or will snare you at some time, but planning is nigh in impossible.
I don’t want to hear excuses on how things are better now (untrue), or how they have improved greatly (another lie). When a bus sign at a stop says that the bus will be there at 5.07, I EXPECT the bus to be there at seven minutes past the hour. Other countries can do it. Then again, this is Malta.
OK, so in substitution of a car, or the bus, what else can I do? I love cycling. The minor altercation with a Qash-Qai last year left me shaken for many months. The sight of my bedraggled bike in the corner of the garage did not inspire that much confidence to get into the saddle once again.
I repaired the damage, and although the bicycle looked pristine once again, I still had problems in addressing the not unsubstantial step of once again venturing into the roads.
The past month has seen me looking around, thus, for alternate transport. Not because I need to, but because I want to. And going electric has intrigued me for many years now. Sure, I understand that with electric, the waste is going to be generated at a different source, in effect, minimizing somewhat the carbon footprint saving. (I am already doing much of that with electricity generation and solar water heating.)
To me, however, the pure pleasure of cycling, boosted with electrical power when required is unrivaled. Let’s not go into the financial aspect. My daily commute is mercifully very short, so apart from my weekend jaunts, fuel consumption is not something I am overly worried about. I perhaps use up twenty euros of fuel every fortnight, if even that much.
It is the knowledge rather that we are moving on from burning fossil fuel at secondary source.
I have thus taken a decision that in the future months, I will build an electric vehicle. It might not take the form of a bicycle, as indeed, I have a scooter which takes me places very efficiently, but perhaps not the best option for hills.
Malta is, after all, a quite hilly country which does not lend itself exactly brilliantly to car-less commuting.
So yeah, I am researching on how to put together an electric machine for personal use. The scooter is the first step as it is light, portable, fold-able, and easily adaptable to what I have in mind.
Plans have been thought up and drawn. Let’s see how it goes.