Saturday, November 15, 2008

Numbers ate my brain

Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows it consists of a lot of thinking out loud. I've been keeping track of the amount of money I spend on fuel lately, more out of interest than anything. All it has done is scare me. I drive a small car and average 8.1 litres per 100km on the hilly drive in the direction of work. Depending on the amount of time I have most days I ride the last 10km. Even though fuel prices seem to be going down for the moment, having a clearer idea of how much my car is costing has me wondering how much getting rid of it would save.

Having a look at the 2008 RACT running cost figures which best match my car, I'm spending about 12.5c per kilometre on fuel, about 0.7c per kilometre on tyres and about 5c per kilometer on servicing and repairs. So that's 18.2 cents per kilometre. On average, I ride around 100km a week I would have otherwise driven, saving me $18.20. I suspect I spend a bit more than that on bike bits!

At the moment, my car is costing me the above costs, plus the fixed costs: about another $24 a week in rego, insurance, licence and RACT membership. I drive an average of 25,000km a year, so all-up the car I own outright is costing me $5,792, a year, around $110 a week or 23 cents per kilometre.

Now, I'm going to need a new car in a couple of years - an expense I now don't want to even think about. If the RACT figures are right, even a cheap car will depreciate by at least $60 a week over five years, will cost $1,250 a year to keep road legal and insured, around $5,000 to fuel and another $5,000 in loan repayments: $14,272 dollars a year. And people say my bike habit is keeping me poor! The rough cost of a new car is going to be about 60 cents per kilometre.

It's got me thinking: maybe I won't t buy a new car and ride instead. Or delay the purchase by a year. At 20km/h I'd be saving about 12 dollars an hour.

5,023km so far this year.


Tim said...

You may be interested in this building on Ivan Illich's calculations from the late 70's.

The model American male devotes more than 1,600 hours a year to his car. He sits in it while it goes and while it stands idling. He parks it and searches for it. He earns the money to put down on it and to meet the monthly instalments. He works to pay for gasoline, tolls, insurance, taxes, and tickets. He spends four of his sixteen waking hours on the road or gathering his resources for it. And this figure does not take into account the time consumed by other activities dictated by transport: time spent in hospitals, traffic courts, and garages; time spent watching automobile commercials or attending consumer education meetings to improve the quality of the next buy.

The model American puts in 1,600 hours to get 7,500 miles: less than five miles per hour. In countries deprived of a transportation industry, people manage to do the same, walking wherever they want to go, and they allocate only 3 to 8 per cent of their society's time budget to traffic instead of 28 per cent. What distinguishes the traffic in rich countries from the traffic in poor countries is not more mileage per hour of life-time for the majority, but more hours of compulsory consumption of high doses of energy, packaged and unequally distributed by the transportation industry.

David Killick said...

How interesting. Now I've got a new set of numbers to go and worry about!

BT Humble said...

Why do so many people replace, at such a high cost, perfectly functional, not even half-worn-out cars with brand-new ones every 3-5 years?

It baffles me.