Car costs slight fall despite petrol price hike

Added by on August 15, 2011

The cost of owning and operating a car in today’s market has dropped slightly despite unstable petrol pricing putting the squeeze on motorists.

RACV’s 2011 Driving Your Dollars survey of 94 cars found that overall the average cost of owning and running a vehicle has dropped 1.6 % from last year’s survey. Lower interest rates on vehicle loans and slightly lower servicing expenses have helped in the overall drop despite increased petrol prices.

The survey found that manufacturers who have introduced fixed price servicing programs have also helped to keep costs down for vehicle buyers. It also found that low emission vehicles use less fuel but the more expensive purchase price attracts high standing costs.

Excellent fuel economy was also no guarantee of a car gaining top spot in its category. Australia’s most fuel efficient car for the second year running, the Ford Fiesta Econetic, was the cheapest in the survey to run at 11.86c/km but its standing costs were $47.06 per week higher than the Suzuki Alto.

In the light car category, the Suzuki Alto came out on top at $110.64 per week to own and run.

The Alto is part of a growing group of budget priced light cars including the Holden Barina Spark and Nissan Micra that made up the top three in this class.

The small car class was the most tightly fought in this year’s survey with the top six vehicles all within $5 per week of each other. However, Hyundai i30 SX at $157.30 per week took the honours ahead of the Volkswagen Golf 77 TSI and the diesel-powered i30 SX. In this category, the MINI Cooper Diesel was overall the cheapest to run, at 11.02 c/km, but its high standing costs pushed it to $183.99 per week. The Toyota Prius was overall the most costly to run at $203.12 per week.

The three most expensive vehicles were again the Toyota Land Cruiser petrol and diesel along with the Prado. The Toyota Land Cruiser GXL diesel topped the category costing $387.21 per week.

RACV Manager Vehicle Engineering, Michael Case, said vehicle depreciation was the ticking time bomb with many car buyers failing to recognise it as a major vehicle cost.

“In the 2011 survey, depreciation accounts for an average of 39% and while car owners do not hand over 39 cents in every dollar they spend each week, in five years’ time when they are looking to trade their vehicle that’s when the depreciation costs kick in significantly,” said Mr Case.

“It’s important to look at the whole picture when shopping for a vehicle. The price of the car is just a piece of the puzzle. Buyers also should know how much it costs to have the car serviced, how much it costs to fill the fuel tank, tyres, car insurance, registration, interest, stamp duty, drivers’ licence, RACV membership, as well as the costs of spare parts like windscreens and batteries and we consider all these factors in compiling our survey.”

Mr Case said many buyers were keen to purchase low emission vehicles for their fuel efficiency however the initial outlay to buy many of these vehicles was high, resulting in high standing costs.

RACV calculations for the Driving Your Dollars survey are based on private ownership of a vehicle for a five-year period and driving an average of 15,000km each year. The data was collected in the period leading up to June 2011.

Results of the 2010 and 2011 surveys are available at at A full report also appears in the July edition of Royal Auto.

About The Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV)

The Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV) is run to benefit members through high quality service, great value products and wide range of member benefits. RACV is committed to representing members’ interests in areas such as road safety and mobility, through advocacy and sponsorship of community programs.
It also offers a range of insurance policies from comprehensive car insurance and home insurance to travel insurance, with member benefits that include discounts and savings.