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Auto Club: 2009 Cost Of Driving A New Car Remains Unchanged at 54 Cents Per Mile


(LOS ANGELES, April 8, 2009)The cost of owning and driving a new sedan 15,000 miles annually has remained practically unchanged in the past year and averages 54 cents per mile, just a 0.1 cent drop from 2008, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California and AAA's new "Your Driving Costs" brochure for 2009.

“While motorists are experiencing relief at the pump, those savings have been countered by revised Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy estimates and increases in vehicle ownership costs such as insurance premiums, depreciation, finance charges and other fees and taxes,” said Steve Mazor, the Auto Club’s Automotive Research Center Manager.

Vehicle tests for the revised EPA fuel economy estimates were performed at the Automotive Research Center located in Diamond Bar, Calif. The research center has been performing vehicle and emissions testing since the early 1970s. The ARC features state-of-the-art facilities and equipment operated by highly qualified Auto Club research technicians.

New sedan costs average $8,095 yearly

Based on the 2009 edition of its “Your Driving Costs” brochure, AAA estimates the cost to own and operate a typical new sedan driven 15,000 miles yearly is $8,095, only $26 less than last year’s estimated cost of $8,121. Small sedan costs were unchanged at 42.1 cents per mile, or $6,312 annually. Medium sedan costs dropped 1.1 cents per mile to 54.0, or $8,105 per year, thanks to maintenance cost savings and lower depreciation. However the costs for large sedans rose 0.7 cents per mile to 65.8, or $9,870 yearly, due largely to increased depreciation.

SUV costs drop, minivan’s jump

SUV owners, whose vehicles get lower fuel economy, benefited most from the drop in fuel prices. Their estimated operating costs dipped 1.3 cents per mile to 68.4 cents, or $10,259 per year, despite a relatively large increase in depreciation and insurance premiums. Meanwhile, minivan costs jumped 1.2 cents per mile to 58.8 cents or $8,815 yearly. The growth is due to cost increases in every area except fuel and included the largest rise in depreciation of any vehicle class.

New EPA baselines provide better “real world” results

“Your Driving Costs” uses the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s revised fuel-economy estimates that are intended to better reflect “real world” results.

“AAA was a strong advocate for updating the EPA’s guidelines for calculating fuel economy so new car buyers could have a realistic estimate of a vehicle’s miles per gallon before their purchase,” Mazor said. “The ability to use EPA estimates more closely based on ‘real world’ conditions in our calculations has made ‘Your Driving Costs’ an even more valuable tool for consumers.”

Understanding the calculations

AAA’s calculations are based on both operating and ownership costs that include:

Operating Costs: Fuel, Maintenance and Tires

Ownership Costs: Insurance, License, Registration, Taxes, Depreciation and Financing

The costs are based on typical use of a vehicle for personal transportation over five years and 75,000 miles of ownership. Fuel costs were based on $2.30 per gallon, as reported by the AAA Fuel Gauge Report ( in late 2008.

AAA’s analysis covers vehicles equipped with standard and optional equipment. The driving costs in each category are based on the average expenses for five top-selling models selected by AAA. The models included in the study are:

Small Sedans: Chevrolet Cobalt, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Nissan Sentra and Toyota Corolla

Medium Sedans: Chevrolet Impala, Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry

Large Sedans: Buick Lucerne, Chrysler 300, Ford Taurus, Nissan Maxima and Toyota Avalon

SUVs: Chevrolet Trailblazer, Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Nissan Pathfinder and Toyota 4Runner

Minivans: Chevrolet Uplander, Dodge Grand Caravan, Kia Sedona, Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna

“Your Driving Costs” availability

A hard copy of the “Your Driving Costs” brochure is available at the local Auto Club offices.

The brochure also contains a worksheet that can help a vehicle owner to calculate their own vehicle ownership and operating costs. This knowledge can help motorists make informed choices about their vehicle selection and use, according to Mazor.

CST 1016202-80 Copyright © Automobile Club of Southern California. All Rights Reserved.
The Automobile Club of Southern California is a member club affiliated with the American Automobile Association (AAA) national federation and serves members in the following California counties: Inyo, Imperial, Kern, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare, and Ventura.