Today I was supposed to let our rental car guy know whether we are keeping this car for the next five months or whether we are returning it to him tomorrow. I told him we would like a bigger car, with airbags, and still with air conditioning. He actually laughed at me. He said, "You will never find a rental car here with airbags!" I thought he was exaggerating, because I know he wants us to rent from him for our long rental, and his cars don't have them.
It looks like he was not exaggerating! I kept looking, and I think airbags are really not common here. That was kind of a surprise. I was comparing other vehicles that are available for us to rent, and it seems like rental cars are usually Chinese cars--we've already noticed that our current car (despite being brand new) is far lower quality than cars sold in the United States--but it seems like the same types of cars are also somewhat more common here in general. Maybe, since cars are so expensive to import, people import cheaper cars.
So, anyhow, we were comparing some of the other vehicles available through other rental companies, and a couple things happened. First, when we were Googling to see pictures of the types of cars offered to us we found the Wikipedia page about the Chery QQ (which is very common, especially among rental cars). I noticed this sentence on the Wikipedia page: "Upon impact, the QQ driver will most likely suffer severe (possibly fatal) head trauma, and trauma to the neck and chest areas." Whoa...notice the words "most likely"? So, if you're in an accident in that car, you're done, thanks for playing. That sounds really dangerous. And, I would be really surprised if the car we're currently renting is any safer. That's kind of scary.
It is interesting that cars are available that wouldn't be available in the United States, but at the same time, it seems like an unnecessary, stupid risk to take for us to drive something so unsafe.
So, that led to us looking on mercadolibre (the classifieds here) for information about another car that looked a little better from the pictures but lacked specific info about the car on the Wikipedia page about it. As we were looking there, we realized, gosh, we're thinking about paying a minimum of about $5000USD to rent a car for five months, and the same cars sell (brand new, including the taxes) for about $10,000USD. And then, the interesting thing is, if you look at the same cars that are used and a few years old, they're selling for $8,700USD. So, they really don't lose much value at all.
We had talked before about buying a car instead of renting one, but now we're thinking more seriously about that. There will be the hassle of selling it when we're ready to; selling used cars is a bigger project here because financial stuff follows the car instead of the owner, so buyers have to make sure that there are not loans or unpaid fines, etc, still owing on the car...but financially, it seems like it is a pretty compelling option. And then we can have our air bags, and space for Paisley's car seat, and so on.
We told our car rental guy that we want to keep this car for another week, so that we have some time to shop for a car.