New figures from insurer RACV show that the cost of owning and operating a car in 2010 has changed little from the past two years, rising 4.5 percent over 2009 - a year that saw some equalisation with a seven percent drop from 2008's seven percent rise.
Covering 78 models in the new car market, RACV's 'Driving Your Dollars' survey found that while the Ford Fiesta Econetic is the cheapest to run (10.23 cents per kilometre), its higher purchase price meant that the Hyundai Getz continues to be the cheapest to own and operate - its fourth year at the top.
Combined with its sticker price, the Fiesta Econetic carries an average weekly cost of $148.29, while the Getz' low price and low running costs give it an average weekly cost of $118.44 - up from $114.65 in 2009.
At the other end of the scale, the three most expensive vehicles to own and operate are all variants of the LandCruiser, with the V8 diesel costing $386.79 per week, the V8 petrol costing $369.88 and the LandCruiser 'ute' costing $40 less at $328.48 per week.
RACV's Brian Negus said that vehicle depreciation was the 'ticking time bomb' for car buyers, with many failing to recognise it as a major vehicle cost.
“In this survey, depreciation accounts for an average 37 percent on any given vehicle and while car buyers are not having to pay 37 cents in every dollar of their weekly car bills now, in five years time when they are looking to trade their car that’s when the depreciation costs kick in significantly,“ Mr Negus said.
“How much an individual pays to purchase a car is just a piece of the picture. We also assess how much it costs to have the car serviced, the cost of fuel, tyres, insurance, registration, RACV membership, interest, stamp duty, drivers’ licence as well as an assortment of spare parts like windscreens and batteries.”
Mr Negus said that while the nearly $8000 cost over five years of maintaining a BMW wasn't surprising, a trio of Toyota models provided their own surprises.
On the fuel front (and a surprise to no one), LPG and dual-fuel vehicles proved to be a better option than petrol-engined cars when it comes to running costs.
“The petrol Commodore was $3.22 per week more than the dual fuel Commodore, while the difference was $13.27 for the dedicated LPG Falcon. The Diesel i30 was $5.21 more expensive per week than its petrol equivalent, slightly closing the gap on last year’s $5.71 difference,” Mr Negus said.
The Hybrid Camry was $15 more than the petrol Altise and the Toyota Prius was the most expensive small car in the study.
The full results of the survey can be found at RACV's website. Click here to view.