Cost of Owning and Operating an Automobile

Cost of Owning and Operating an Automobile

Driving an automobile 15,000 miles per year cost 53 per mile in 2003, or 20 percent more than it did in 1993 when total costs were 44 per mile (figure 7-2). These data, which are expressed in 2000 chained dollars,1 include fixed costs (e.g., depreciation, insurance, finance charges, and license fees) and variable costs (e.g., gasoline and oil, maintenance, and tires). Between 1993 and 2003, fixed costs represented an average of 75 percent of total per-mile costs. Gasoline and oil, a component of variable costs, represented 13 percent of driving costs per mile in 2003, down from 18 percent in 1993 [1].

Annually, each person in the United States travels an average of 14,500 miles on daily trips [2]. About 89 percent of these trip-miles are by personal vehicle (e.g., cars, vans, sport utility vehicles, and light trucks). For the balance, people travel via public transportation or air, ride bicycles, walk, or travel by other means.

Sources

1. U.S. Department of Transportation, Research and Innovative Technology Administration, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, National Transportation Statistics 2004 (Washington, DC: 2005), table 3-14.

2. U.S. Department of Transportation, Research and Innovative Technology Administration, Bureau of Transportation Statistics and Federal Highway Administration, Highlights of the 2001 National Household Travel Survey, available at http://www.bts.gov/, as of August 2005.

1 All dollar amounts are expressed in chained 2000 dollars, unless otherwise specified. To eliminate the effects of inflation over time, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics converted current dollars (which are available in appendix B of this report) to chained 2000 dollars.