With the cost of, well, pretty much everything rising in recent months, most of us are keeping a closer eye on our finances than we have done previously. Behind housing and food, your car is likely to be one of your biggest monthly expenses – but how does the cost of driving stack up over your lifetime?
At CarMoney, we’ve crunched the numbers to reveal the lifetime cost of driving in six major countries around the world, including here in Australia. We’ve looked at everything from the cost of buying a car to how much it is to insure and maintain over 60 years of driving.
At a glance, our key findings include:
- Australia is the cheapest place to buy a car but the most expensive place to tax and insurance.
- The UK has the highest fuel and EV charging costs of all the countries analysed.
- The USA is the most expensive country to own a car, costing over AU$ 1.2 million (approx. $790,000) over a lifetime.
- France is the cheapest country to own a car over a lifetime.
- Car repairs and fuel costs are the most affordable in Germany.
- New Zealand is the cheapest country to charge an EV, with lifetime costs over AU$ 15,000 (approx. NZ$ 16,100) below average.
Australia is the third cheapest country for drivers, with motoring costs totalling AU$ 836,640 over a lifetime
Our analysis shows that the lifetime cost of driving in Australia is AU$ 836,640, equating to AU$ 13,944 per year. This is almost AU$ 31,810 less than the average lifetime cost across all countries we analysed, which comes in at a hefty AU$ 868,450.
Lowering the cost of motoring down under is our cheaper car prices. The 10 cars Aussie motorists will own on average during their driving lifetime cost AU$ 397,951 in total, averaging AU$ 39,795 per car. This is the cheapest of all the countries we’ve analysed, and significantly less than the overall average of AU$ 55,364 per car across all countries.
However, what we save on the vehicles themselves, we lose out on when it comes to insurance and road tax. On average, an Aussie driver will pay AU$ 56,389 over their lifetime to tax their vehicle – almost double the AU$ 23,362 average across all six countries!
In Australia, vehicle insurance will cost AU$ 108,448 over a lifetime. That’s almost double what our friends in the UK will pay (AU$ 55,089 or approx £28,383) and significantly higher than the overall average of AU$ 69,341.
Drivers in the USA face the highest driving costs, spending AU$ 1,127,609 ($741,927) in a lifetime
It’s bad news for American drivers, as the USA tops our list of the countries with the highest cost of driving over a lifetime. On average, drivers will shell out a total of AU$ 1,127,609 ($741,927) on buying cars, taxing, insuring and maintaining them. That works out at AU$ 18,793 ($12,365) per year!
The country’s higher lifetime cost stems predominantly from having expensive taste when it comes to vehicles, but also significantly higher maintenance costs than other countries.
Despite not having a formal MOT test, drivers in the US spend the most over a lifetime on car maintenance, to the tune of AU$ 165,803 ($109,097) or AU$ 2,763 ($1,818) per year! To put that into perspective, that’s AU$ 44,885 ($29,534) more than we spend here in Australia, and a staggering AU$ 146,856 ($96,630) more than France!
Overall, UK drivers face the second-highest lifetime driving cost of the countries we’ve analysed. Across a 60-year period, they’ll spend AU$ 1,068,213 (£550,198) on average, which works out at AU$ 17,804 (£9,170) per year.
That’s a staggering AU$ 119,763 (£61,686) higher than the average lifetime spend of all countries, or an extra AU$ 3,860 (£1,988) per year!
Out of the countries analysed UK drivers pay the most for the cars themselves and the fuel to go in them. Purchasing 10 cars throughout their lifetime will cost a typical UK driver AU$ 749,842 (£386,217) or AU$ 74,984 (£38,622) per car. This is almost AU$ 200,00 (£103,013) more than the average lifetime cost across all countries (AU$ 553,639 or £285,159).
Likewise, fuel is the most expensive in the UK. UK drivers will pay AU$ 2,962 (£1,011) per year on fuel, totalling AU$ 177,712 (£91,533) over the course of their driving lifetime.
By comparison, drivers in Germany will pay just AU$ 1,896 (€1,137 or £977) per year for fuel, or AU$ 113,750 (€68,216 or £58,591) over 60 years – AU$ 63,962 (€38,358 or £32,946) less than UK drivers!
In fact, the only category the UK was cheapest in was insurance. Although Brits will spend AU$ 55,089 (£28,376) over their lifetime on insuring their car, this is only marginally cheaper than second-cheapest New Zealand at AU$ 56,472 (£29,088).
France is the cheapest country to be a driver, saving almost AU$ 195,000 against the average lifetime cost
At the other end of the scale, drivers in France have the lowest lifetime cost of driving, spending just AU$ 673,759 (€404,291) on motoring over the 60-year period or AU$ 11,229 (€6,780) per year. That’s AU$ 194,691 (€116,825) less than the average lifetime spend across all countries!
This is largely down to France’s preference for more affordable cars (spending AU$ 42,348 (€25,411) per vehicle on average) and the country having the cheapest MOT and servicing costs of all analysed.
Over the course of a lifetime, New Zealand is the cheapest place to run an electric car. On average over the 60-year period, New Zealanders can expect to pay around AU$ 40,404 (NZ$ 43,512) to charge the world’s best-selling EV, a Tesla Model Y, which is roughly AU$ 673 (NZ$ 725) per year.
In second place is France, where charging the same car over the same period will cost AU$ 42,682 (NZ$ 45,965 or €25,611). Australia follows closely behind with a lifetime EV charging cost of AU$ 42,945 (NZ$ 46,248).
Of course, these figures are for illustrative purposes only; we can imagine there’ll be many more models from Tesla in the next 60 years to tempt drivers into changing their vehicle!
Phew! The cost of driving can really add up over the years. Thankfully, you can cut your outgoings by making a saving on your car finance. Find out more about our used car loans and new car loans at CarMoney today.
We gathered information from online sources on common car costs for six countries around the world. Costs are based on current prices over 60 years, the most common time people drive for. For cars, we looked at the price of new vehicles with one purchased every six years – the average time a person owns a vehicle. Resale cost and interest rates weren’t included for simplicity.
All costs are intended for illustrative purposes and may vary in real-life situations. All currency conversions are correct as of August 2nd 2023.