(This is a recurring theme, since one of the main comparative advantages of bicycle transportation is the cost.)
I just got my "Annual Auto Issue" of Consumer Reports. (April 2008)
It has an interesting article, What that car really costs to own. And they give some good, practical advice on how to choose a car that will cost less "over the long haul."
When they study 300 different models, the average ownership cost, over a period of five years, breaks down as follows:
- Depreciation (the big one!) - 48%
- Fuel - 21%
- Interest - 12%
- Insurance - 11%
- Maintenance and repair - 4%
- Tax - 4%
It would stand to reason that if you went out 10 years rather than 5, depreciation and interest would decrease, and maintenance/repair would probably increase to partly fill the void. And here's a bold prediction - fuel will cost more in 5 years than it does now. (But the second five years would still likely be significantly cheaper than the first five years of ownership.)
So... let's talk some numbers.
The cheapest car to own, from new to five years old? The Toyota Yaris Hatchback, at $12,596.
How does that compare with the cost of owning a bicycle?
(I know... there's really no comparison!)
Here are my bicycle numbers for the past 5 years...
I paid $900 for my bicycle, so if it depreciated 100%, that's only $900. My fuel is 0% of the total. Interest? 0%. Insurance? 0%. Maintenance and repair? Figuring in EVERYTHING, it's not more than $200/year. (I probably go through 4 tires, 8 tubes, 25-30 patches, a chain and cassette in a year. Everything else lasts longer than a year.)
So - the Yaris costs AT LEAST $10,700 more, over 5 years.
(By the way, the most expensive car was the Mercedes-Benz SL550, at $105,885 for 5 years. Obviously they're only considering mass-market production-type cars. No doubt you could find a Ferrari or Lamborghini or McLaren that would cost more than the MB's $21,177 per year.)