AAA Reveals True Cost Of Vehicle Ownership, Including EVs, Hybrids

Average New Vehicle Will Cost Nearly $8,500 Annually To Own And Operate

Your Driving Costs
Source: AAA Your Driving Costs

Owning and operating a new vehicle in 2017 will cost a driver an average of $8,469 annually, or $706 each month, according to a new study from AAA.

 

In addition to analyzing the ownership costs for sedans, SUVs and minivans, AAA’s Your Driving Costs study added four new vehicle segments in 2017 - small SUVs, pickup trucks, hybrids and electric vehicles.

 

The annual evaluation of driving costs reveals that small sedans are the least expensive vehicles to drive at $6,354 annually. However, small SUVs ($7,606), hybrids ($7,687) and electric vehicles ($8,439) all offer lower-than-average driving costs to U.S. drivers. Conversely, of the nine categories included in the evaluation, pickup trucks are the most expensive vehicles to drive at $10,054 annually.  Southern California’s localized version of Your Driving Costs will be published later this year. 

 

“Determining the cost of a new vehicle is more than calculating a monthly payment,” said the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Manager Megan McKernan. “While sales price is certainly a factor, depreciation, maintenance, repair and fuel costs should be equally important considerations for anyone in the market for a new vehicle.”

 

Your Driving Costs Snapshot

Based on 15,000 miles

Small

Sedan

Medium

Sedan

Large

Sedan

Electric

Vehicle

Small

SUV

Minivan

Annual Total Cost

$6,354

$8,171

$9,399

$8,439

$7,606

$9,146

 

Electric Vehicles

New to the Your Driving Costs study in 2017, AAA found that electric vehicles have lower-than-average driving costs at $8,439 per year. Without a gasoline engine to maintain, electric vehicles have the lowest annual maintenance and repair costs, at $982 per year. By relying on electricity instead of gasoline, fuel costs are also significantly lower than average, at under four cents per mile. Depreciation, however, is currently extremely high for these vehicles, losing an average of nearly $6,000 in value every year.

 

A recent AAA survey revealed that 1-in-6 Americans are likely to choose an electric vehicle, the majority motivated by their lower long-term ownership costs.

 

“Although electric vehicles can have higher up-front costs, lower fuel and maintenance costs make them a surprisingly affordable choice in the long run,” said McKernan. “For even lower costs, car shoppers can avoid high depreciation costs by selecting a used electric vehicle.”

 

McKernan added that fuel prices are also influencing more green-car buyers.  “Lower gas prices continue to be a boon for green-car buyers – when lots of people are buying large cars and light trucks due to falling fuel prices, dealerships are more likely to offer incentives to attract buyers to ‘greener’ fuel-efficient models. Motorists can research many green car and truck options in the AAA Green Car Guide which can be located at www.AAA.com/greencar,” she added.  

 

To estimate the overall cost to own and operate a new vehicle, AAA evaluated 45 2017 model-year vehicles across nine categories and focused on mid-range, top-selling vehicles. AAA’s annual driving cost is based on a sales-weighted average of the individual costs for all of the vehicle types.  Southern California’s localized version of Your Driving Costs will be published later this year. 

 

Key findings include:

 

Depreciation

Depreciation -- the declining value of a vehicle over time -- is the biggest, and most often overlooked, expense associated with purchasing a new car. New vehicles lose an average of $15,000 in value during the first five years of ownership. In 2017, small sedans ($2,114) and small SUVs ($2,840) have the lowest annual depreciation costs, while minivans ($3,839) and electric vehicles ($5,704) are at the high end of the scale.

 

Maintenance and repair

To calculate annual maintenance and repair costs, AAA examined factory-recommended maintenance, replacement tires, extended warranty costs and services associated with typical wear-and-tear. New vehicles, on average, will cost a driver $1,186 per year to maintain and repair.

 

The inevitable costs associated with maintenance and repair should be an important consideration for car shoppers, as a recent AAA survey found that one-third of U.S. drivers could not afford an unexpected repair bill. AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities offer free vehicle inspections, AAA member discounts and a 24-month/24,000-mile warranty for AAA members. Visit AAA.com/AutoRepair to find a nearby facility.

 

Fuel

Fuel costs vary significantly by vehicle type, ranging from 3.68 cents per mile (electric vehicles) to 13.88 cents per mile (pickup trucks). New vehicle owners, on average, will spend just over 10 cents per mile – about $1,500 annually -- to fuel their vehicles.  For gasoline-powered vehicles, AAA recommends selecting a TOP TIER gasoline, as its independent research found it to keep engines 19 times cleaner, improving vehicle performance and fuel economy. AAA cautions drivers that using premium-grade gasoline in a vehicle that does not specifically require it is an unnecessary expense.

 

AAA’s Your Driving Costs study employs a proprietary methodology to analyze the costs of owning and operating a new vehicle in the United States, using data from a variety of sources, including Vincentric LLC. Additional information and detailed driving costs, including insurance costs, finances charges, registration/license fees, taxes and finance charges can be found at AAA.com/YourDrivingCosts.  See AAA’s Your Driving Costs brochure for a list of vehicles and additional information on the underlying criteria used in the study.

 

Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com

Media Contacts

Elaine Beno
(714) 885-2324
Beno.Elaine@aaa-calif.com
Jeffrey Spring
(714) 885-2333
Spring.Jeffrey@aaa-calif.com