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What Does IT Really Cost to Own a Car?

October 15, 2011

I was looking at total household automobile expenditures (actually total transportation expense except public transportation) for various income levels and found a couple of  interesting things:

  • The lowest income tiers, $5,000-$9,999 through $15,000-19,999 spend more than their income. A lot more for the lowest tier.
  • The average annual expenditure per car only varies by $700 (from $2700 to $3400) for all categories below $70,000 income.
  • The average annual car expenditure for those under $70,000 annual income is $3121 or $260 per month.
  • At 10,000 miles/year this is 31 cents per mile.
  • At a national average of 1.6 occupants per car, this is 20 cents/passenger-mile
  • (I analyzed the AAA number of 57 cents per mile here – is is NOT inconsistent with the above.)
  •  The number of vehicles per household pretty much varies directly with income level. As does the percentage of income spent on automobiles.
  • The percentage of income spent per car declines with increasing income from 14.7% to 5.3%

Here is a table of the data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, followed by how I calculated the cost per car.

 Annual cost of owning a car for various household income levels

data from: Consumer Expenditure Survey, 2010- www.bls.gov/cex/2010/share/income.pdf

 

Household income   

All

$5-9,999

$10-14,999

$15-19,999

$20-29,999

$30- 39,999

$40-49,999

$50-69,999

$70,000 up

Avg. Annual Expenditures

$48109

$18297

$19909

$24935

$29158

$35556

$40616

$47966

$80708

Transportation

16.0%

12.6%

13.1%

15.3%

16.7%

17.5%

17.5%

16.2%

15.7%

Public Transportation

1.0%

.8%

.6%

.7%

.8%

.8%

.7%

.8%

1.3%

vehicles per household

1.9

.8

.9

1.2

1.5

1.7

2.0

2.2

2.7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Calculate (see below for details)

 

Transport Without transit(1)

15.0%

11.8%

12.5%

14.6%

15.9%

16.7%

16.8%

15.4

14.4%

Total transportation $(2)

$7216

$2159

$2489

$3640

$4636

$5,938

$6823

$7387

$11622

For one car(3)

$3798

$2698

$2765

$3034

$3090

$3492

$3412

$3358

$4304

Average cost of one car for average incomes from $5000 to $69.999(4): $3121

 

 

Details of the above Calculations

1:

Transport Without  transit %

 

Transportation  percent- Public Transit percent

2:

Total household transportation expense $

 

Without transit percent x Avg. Annual Expenditures

3:

For one car $

 

Transportation expense divided by number of cars

4:

For one car, average of incomes $5000-$69.999

 

Sum $5000 to $69,999 income columns divided by 7

 

Details of the above Calculations

1:

Transport Without  transit %

 

Transportation  percent- Public Transit percent

2:

Total household transportation expense $

 

Without transit percent x Avg. Annual Expenditures

3:

For one car $

 

Transportation expense divided by number of cars

4:

For one car, average of incomes $5000-$69.999

 

Sum $5000 to $69,999 income columns divided by 7

###
JK

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