I know there was a thread here a while back describing VSPs as “menaces” – but we think we want one.
Mrs W has a valid UK licence, but we haven’t had a car for about six or seven years – before we moved to Caen. (We lived and worked in central London until three years ago, so car ownership was off the radar!).
For the last three years we’ve been out and about for day trips using Bus Verts (Calvados) but I’ve got limited mobility and often struggle to board or sit on a bus seat for long. So a VSP would be ideal for us for days to the coast and countryside – and occasional jaunts to less accessible shops such as Ikea.
Any advice or suggestions welcome. Aixam seem to be the big seller, and my Paris-based chum has two colleagues who use them as “waterproof commuter scooters”. But I’m keen to know more before we start trekking round dealerships.
I think the reason they are considered as menaces - by some - is due to their restricted top speed of 45km/hr.
If you have restricted mobility… I would suggest you visit the concessions which sell VsP and try them out for size… see how easy or not, getting in and out is… and how comfortable for sitting. Due to their low speed, longer trips will take quite some time and comfort will be important.
I believe the insurance is quite steep, although I do not have any figures on that… simply hearsay…
I’ve always been fascinated by those toy cars but from what I’ve heard nobody who is able to own a small ‘real’ car would touch one. They are expensive to buy, expensive to run, slow, noisy and impractical. As your wife has a valid driving licence surely something like a Citroen C1 or the Peugeot/Toyota equivalent would make more sense.
Forgive me if I’m wrong but it sounds as if Mrs W after 6yrs is a bit apprehensive about driving and believes a VSP to be the solution.
In fact for a nervous driver having other drivers possibly tail-gaiting, swearing or being offensive to you would be much more unsettling. So the test drives suggested by others are a must.
Also why not consider a few driving lessons to build up confidence and then if and when ready, getting a “normal” small run-around where cheaper insurance and building up a no claims bonus will be possible.
I have nothing against vsps. But basically they are just small cars. You are restricted in speed and where you can go but you have basically the same traffic conditions and the same car controls to contend with. They’re expensive because they’re a niche product but if your wife has a licence she is not in that niche. If she wants to drive steadily and keep off motorways in a ‘normal’ small car, she can. What specific advantages do you see over a small car, even a Smartcar? Maybe you could find an automatic to make driving easier.
My ex-oh in the uk was a biker and when he hit 50 he decided it was time to get 4 wheels but he said no way was he going to take his driving test at his age.We went to an Aixam dealer and were very impressed but the dealer talked him out of buying one - with some difficulty. The dealer said he would love it at first but very soon he would find it too restrictive. In the dealers’ experience most people only accept the restrictiveness long term if they have no choice i.e. no licence.
Our daughter was desperate to have one when she was at school, annoyed that she could drive in the UK at 17, but had to wait another year in France! She tracked down one that was for sale privately from another student, and wanted to arrange for us to see it. So, I spoke to her driving instructor to ask her advice. Her view was that they are exceptionally dangerous due to the low speed ( which btw becomes a crawl with 2 passengers and a steep hill…) and that French drivers are well known for their impatience, get fed up at the speed, and overtake dangerously in their frustration. That is what causes the accident, not the person safely driving the slow car.
I don’t know about you, but I value the lives of my family members, and like to drive them around in a car that provides a good safety shell in the unfortunate event of an accident. These things are fiberglass, and provide very little protection to the occupants.
To later prove the point to my daughter, her younger brother’s friend was given one for his 16th birthday. I stuck to my guns and would not let my son travel in it, preferring to drive him myself, never mind the hour of the day (or night). This young lad turned it over on the second day of driving it, showing off in a car park, and turning too sharply. Broken windscreen, but no damage to him. Then 4 weeks later he missed a ‘priorite a droite’ in the village, the car came out in front of him, and his car was a write off.
So, please, investigate the safety aspect carefully. Driving in town may be reasonable, but if you plan any country lane driving you need to know you will return home safely, and in comfort. Lots of small cars on the market that have higher specifications, and would be a much more comfortable drive, and would take you up hills!
A few years ago I bought one second hand for 7000€ for Mrs Wozza & tough her to drive it. She absolutely loves it & the freedom it gives her. Top speed is around 55kms (un doctored) & going up hills here in Burgundy +/- 40kms. OK they are slow but I love driving it when allowed. We see lots around here & all ages driving them. We’ve got it insured for 3rd party +/- 300€ p/year as fully comp would be around 1100€ p/y. If you do get one one of the only insurance companies that would insure the car was the Massif.
What are the up to date rules regarding validity in France of UK driving licences? Her current photocard expires in 2021 and licence valid until 2023. She is aged 66, if that’s significant. But she doesn’t fancy having to go to French driving school and taking the test.
I guess it’s all a matter of preference and needs. I would like to add that vsps are consistently improving. We tested an Aixam a year ago, and I was very pleasantly surprised by the comfort and silence of the vehicle! It was 100% electric, and you can plug it right into your own mains. I strongly advise against buying a diesel type, completely different animal!
Neither moh nor I have a legitimate drivers license anymore, thus we are walking. biking (electric), or taking buses every where we go. We also live 8 minutes away by foot to the train station. We still think about the possibility of buying a vsp, since that would be easier than always walking. On the other hand, we are getting good daily exercise, so I hesitate.
British citizens resident in France at the time of Brexit are able to keep their UK licences until they expire, those arriving and becoming resident after that date will have to exchange them within 12 months of arrival. Applications through ANTs from Britons will currently only be accepted if the licence is due to be renewed, you have to have multiple points added or your licence has been lost or destroyed.
Your wife will not have to take a French test.
This is a really excellent Facebook page on the subject, https://www.facebook.com/groups/206199943590115/?ref=share