It's time Santa traded in sleigh for newer model

Excessive mileage, condition and insurance costs all point to upgrade time

Published: December 26, 2017, 4:30 PM
Updated: January 3, 2018, 6:43 AM

Old Santeclaus with Much Delight

Having completed yet another successful trek around the globe, Santa may wish to trade his service-weary sleigh before another year goes by, suggests UK vehicle history checker HPI.

Ford Christmas card

The Leeds-based company founded in 1938 (originally Hire Purchase Information), estimated the number of kilometres on the annual trip and the subsequent, rapid depreciation (even though it’s a much-sought-after item that likely keeps its valuation high), concluding that maybe a few changes are in order to modernize the family business.

HPI estimated that the jolly old elf distributes gifts to some 233 million households around the globe (as of the latest count, there are 1.1 billion households in the world, with one third of those in China where only a small fraction celebrates Santa’s annual trek to deliver gifts to all the good girls and boys, so the company considered other such national beliefs in arriving at the number).

Subaru Christmas card

Taking into account the surface area of Earth (510 million square km), HPI put the average distance between stops at about 1.47 km (because every home has at least one person to which a present has to be delivered), which means the total distance travelled would be more than 342.5 million km. That’s a warranty-buster.

And that’s just the mileage on the odo. HPI also takes into account all the other factors that contribute to the depreciation, such as the age of the sleigh (estimated at nearly 200 years old, having first appeared in 1821) and condition (not likely “mint,” due to the likely multiple dents, scrapes and scratches that come from fitting into sometimes tight spots under tight time constraints).

Dodge Christmas card

There’s also the excessive payload (if every present weighs an average of 1.2 kg, explains HPI, then the load when starting out is at least 279.6 million kg), which naturally probably leads to excessive road and insurance fees, and then there’s the probability of current market availability.

The latter, of course, is dependent on a viable power source, but where do you find flying reindeer these days? And the current team is long past due for retirement, though they do have sentimental value, of course.

Toyota Christmas card

In fact, says HPI, the main selling feature it has is that it’s only had one owner.

But it all leads to the conclusion that it’s probably time to replace the old sleigh, with something newer and taking advantage of current technology.

“We think it’s about time that Santa gave his current sleigh the sack and put his team of reindeers out to grass,” says James Dower, used car specialist at HPI. “I’m not sure it would fetch that much at an auction if I’m being honest – maintenance on a vehicle like this is costly and the parts are very rare.

Mercedes-Benz Christmas card

Although it would mean setting aside tradition, Dower suggests “Santa may wish to consider trading his beloved sled in for another model. A rocket powered sleigh presents one viable option, but the fuel costs would be huge not to mention the environmental impact. A hybrid or electric sleigh could also be an option but it’s likely there’d be a risk of huge delays on deliveries as Santa would have to wait for it to recharge and may also run into difficulty finding charging stations, particularly in some of the more remote areas he delivers to.”

And naturally, around this time of year, manufacturers are more than willing to offer up replacement suggestions.