2018 Driving Data
In 2018 I went to work, I came home. I ran errands. Did a few short day trips. Nothing too out of the ordinary for a typical commuter; no wild road trips for thousands of miles. My car had some repairs outside of the regular maintenance schedule: I got two new tires, replaced a few front end parts, and got new shocks & struts.
- I made 1,097 trips
- I drove 13,819 miles
- Spent 443 hours 45 minutes in my car
- Longest single trip was 102 miles
- Averaged 25MPG
- The average trip distance was 12.597 miles.
- The average trip time was 24 minutes and 30 seconds.
- The lowest price for fuel was 2.899 per gallon in January
- The highest price for fuel was 3.999 per gallon in June
- My average price for fuel was $3.485 per gallon
- I filled up 45 times
A trip is every time I got in my car and went somewhere. So, Home to Work is one trip. Work to Home is a second trip. Even if I started my car and drove 500 feet, it’s counted as a trip.
Too Long; Didn’t Read
My 2008 VW Rabbit had a total cost of ownership of 44¢ per mile due to some repairs I had elected to do this year. Without those repairs my cost per mile would have been 25¢. Beating the IRS reimbursement of 54.5¢ per mile and both of these are way under the ride sharing cost per mile; Ride sharing starts at $1.00 when carpooling and can be as much as $3.70 per mile for the standard (non-carpool) ride share.
Public Transportation is the best option; compared to 25¢ per mile it would save me at least $7 per day if I take it to work and $14 a day at 44¢ a mile. I however would trade my time, adding 5 hours to my daily commute, for such a substatial savings. I’d rather spend those hours sleeping in a bit more, getting tasks done at home, and working on my fitness.
When compared to an equal range EV, the results were pretty surprising. A lot of folks will tell you the electric vehicles are cheaper. And while that may be true when comparing a 2018 Combustion Vehicle to a 2018 Electric Vehicle, it was almost true for me. While I would have saved roughly $1,150 this year in gasoline, I would have spent more on vehicle registration and insurance. My cost per mile in an EV would be 28¢ before factoring in the financing, my cost per mile would 89¢.
But if I compare to an equal class EV, like the Chevrolet Bolt my cost per mile would be 22¢, but when factoring in the financing my cost per mile is 61¢.
The Big “Fix”
This wasn’t something that needed to be done. Since buying the car in 2013, there has been no major work or repairs, especially after 120,000 miles it’s a good idea to start doing some preventative maintenance. I noticed that when I went over speed bumps while the car was cold (i.e. after sitting at work for 8hrs), I’d get a crunching sound. I figured this to be the struts.
I bought these parts for roughly $500, assuming $600 after tax and shipping. $90 for each of the control arms and about $300 for all four struts. Almost immediately dad & I realized the work was much more involved than expected so we put the car back together and set out finding a shop to do it for us, with our parts.
Some shops turned us away since if anything failed they didn’t want to be liable, others quoted us around $700. We both thought that was low and we didn’t want the shop to get started and phone us up with “So, the new total is going to be $3000.” We found a shop that would do it for $1900 so I went for it. While there, the shop called up about a few other issues such as a cracked CV Boot and a broken ball joint so I had them replace it. Total came out to be $2100. Don’t worry, I checked the dealer paper work from my last oil change and they noted the CV Boot was cracked! The auto shop wasn’t scamming me.
I brought my car in on Monday, got it back on Tuesday. Best money ever spent since it would have taken my dad & I days of labor to do the same work.
Total cost with parts: $2700
I ran over something on my way home from work one day on the freeway. Thankfully I was able to take an exit and pull into a parking lot and put on the spare. When I went to the tire shop later I got two new tires, I did this because I felt safer having two tires with the same tread depth than having 3 used tires and one new one.
Total repair was $274
I do get regular oil changes to the tune of about 3 a year for $90 each. I don’t do this myself because it’s just about the same price if I were to do it myself plus I don’t have to dispose of the oil.
Total cost was $210
Licensing and Insurance
My car is roughly $37 a year to register with the Department of Motor Vehicles, or DMV and I pay $70 a month for insurance.
Total Cost is $877
Gas & Milage
I use a phone program to track all my driving data. It syncs with my car via an adapter that plugs into my OBD-II port. It’s got built-in 3G connectivity so even if my phone is off, the data still saves to the companies servers. Some folks might consider this “invasive” but I really like it and their data is why I’m writing this.
Since we’re focusing mostly on the current cost of driving, let’s look at how much I spent on gas: $2,046.51.
That’s not great but also not bad. I drive 17.9 miles to work, and about 18.5 miles back due to traffic. I fill up my tank roughly every 7 days for an average cost of $45.48, I had 45 fill ups in 2018. The cheapest gas was $2.999 in January and peaked at 3.999 in June
Putting it All Together
It’s worth noting that my car is paid off, so I have no finance or lease on the vehicle.
Compiling all the information above, my car cost me $6107.51 to operate in 2018. I also recognize 2018 was a bit expensive for me so I also want to adjust the data and remove the elective work from my car, which was the big $2700 repair that I didn’t need to do but wanted to do.
My adjusted cost of ownership is now $3,319.51. So I’ll be looking at these two values going forward.
In 2018 I drove 13,819 miles.
- $0.44 per mile
- $0.25 per mile (Adjusted)
Which is actually phenomenal! The IRS pegs the reimbursement rate for milage at $0.545 per mile. So I came in at least 10 cents under that! The car, a 2008 VW Rabbit (aka Golf in other model years), isn’t costing me more to run than the government puts the bar at.
But how does this stack up against the likes of Ride-Sharing? This mode of transportation is picking up and particularly popular these days, both for riders to go from Point to Point and for drivers to earn money.
Another popular mode of transportation is, in fact, public transit.
So, let’s look at these numbers.
I’m going to be comparing numbers with Lyfts service. I opened their app and set my destination to the shopping center down the road (2.6mi), my parents (7.9mi), and work (17.9mi). We also have the option to have a standard Lyft or a carpool lyft. I also threw in a rough distance to San Francisco from my home.
- 02.6mi: $9.77 (Standard), $3.76/mi
- 02.6mi: $6.85 (Carpool), $2.63/mi
- 07.9mi: $17.32 (Standard), $2.19/mi
- 07.9mi: $13.82 (Carpool), $1.75/mi
- 17.9mi: $29.35 (Standard), $1.65/mi
- 17.9mi: $17.84 (Carpool), $1.00/mi
- 51.3mi: $73.55 (Standard), $1.43/mi
- 51.3mi: $55.78 (Carpool), $1.09/mi
There’s no situation where I come out on top if I were to use Ride Sharing. We’re not even considering surge pricing when fares double, and sometimes triple.
What about parking? Just the other day I had a party about 4 miles away in downtown, and downtown is notorious for paid parking. I mulled it over for a while, thinking about the hassle of finding parking, what if I drink, etc etc. I opened Lyft and the fair was something like $13 to get there, then of course I’d need to get back. I drove.
It cost me $3.60 ($2.00 adjusted) to drive there and back. Parking was $5. I easily saved about $20 by driving myself.
A lot of my NYC & SF friends are all on that public transit hype, which is great. I do admit public transit can be superior, the verdict heavily depends on the environment (connections, stops, density, etc).
If I miss my bus in my home town, it’s not uncommon to wait upwards of 60 minutes for the next bus. More popular corridors will obviously have more buses and thus more frequency at that stop, but the one outside my home is every 60 minutes. Our public transit day pass is $7, I’d have to drive 15.6mi (28mi adjusted) to spend $7 in operational costs with my car. I can buy a yearly pass for $880, saving $1640 over 360 daily passes. Which now means if I read 365 days a year, I’m paying $2.41 a day. That’s the same as driving 4 miles (9.6mi adjusted) in my car. Which is an amazing savings.
But that 30 minute drive to work is now 1h58m on public transit and work is still 4 miles from the last stop. I can either take a Lyft or the free shuttle from the stop to the business park I work in. It’s ~30mins for the shuttle to pick me up and take me to the shuttle stop next to work. My round trip daily commute would be ~5 hours. Whereas my trip by car is 1.5 hours (60 minutes home). I can get some work done on public transit but my work isn’t entirely computer oriented, being an Office & Facilities Manager means that I need to be onsite for most of my job duties.
Sadly, my home city isn’t spoiled like NYC. While I can get to and from work using one public transit network, to get anywhere else I may need to use two or three. To get to SF I have to use 3 or 4 networks: VTA to CalTrain, and MUNI inside the city. If I want to visit Oakland or anything in the East Bay I need to use BART. Thankfully, all four of these services take the same payment card (Clipper) but I would still need to purchase the corresponding passes.
To get to my Mountain View office, it would cost me $5, then $5 to get home. But we’d be on a yearly pass, for $2.41 a day, thus saving $13.61 ($6.69 adjusted) per day over my 2018 operational costs. The time on public transit can be spent with activities like reading, work, or any number of things. Which is great! To me, I’d rather spend my 90 minutes a day paying attention in traffic and have 3.5 more hours at home. Sometimes I use the commute time on my way home to make a phone call to a friend, my mom, enjoy a podcast, or host a concert in my car. I just value the time at home more than the monetary savings. That 3.5 hours is 2 loads of laundry, that’s getting dinner ready, and that’s going for a run before 3.5 hours is even up — I can put laundry in, go run, come back move load 1 to the dryer, add load 2 to the washer, start dinner, take out load 1 and put in load 2. Eat dinner, then take out load 2, clean up dinner. — Driving myself means I can wake up later, means I can make detours, I can leave when I want; I value the freedom to go where I want when I want than being stuck on a defined path.
It’s pretty obvious that electric cars are here to stay. I fully intend for my next car to be an EV, in fact it’s incredibly tempting to upgrade to a Tesla Model 3 today. But, does it make sense for me?
Gas Car Charges
In this list I’m only counting the costs that are relevant to the gas engine and car ownership.
- I drove 13819 miles
- I spent $2046.51 on gas
- I paid $240 in oil changes
- My registration cost is $37/yr
- My Insurance is $840/yr
- Total 2018 Cost: $3,286.51
- Cost Per Mile is $0.23
This cost of ownership is lower here than what it is above because I’m not adding in the two tires I bought for $274. Since this doesn’t relate to the engine or government requirements, I’m basically comparing the cost of the energy required to drive the car, associated maintenance costs and fees — hence the oil changes, insurance and registration as these are all part of owning a gasoline vehicle.
In my part of California, PG&E charges $0.22 per kWh for “Tier 1” customers. Tier 1 customers have 213kWh before they are bumped up to Tier 2, which charges electricity at $0.29 per kWh.
Tesla Model 3
The Long Range AWD Tesla Model 3 has a 75kWh battery. Thus, for the first 3 full charges, I’ll be billed at $0.22 (the last 12kWh I’ll be billed at $0.29) so $50.34 for three “fill ups.” This is also assuming I don’t use any thing else that requires electricity at home. (Hint: I definetly do.) Remeber my numbers from above? My average fill up in 2018 was $45.48. I get at least 300MPG with my gas car, and with a 300mi range with the Long Range AWD Model 3, I can go 900 miles for just $5 more than one tank of gasoline. But wait!
I can’t charge at home, my complex doesn’t have any EV stations and I can’t run a power plug from my home, across the road to my assigned parking space. So, I’ll need to charge at Tesla Superchargers, which for California the fee is $0.26 per kWh, presently there doesn’t appear to be any tiered plans for California Super Chargers while other states do. So, my total cost with the California Super Charger network is $19.50 per 75kWh, or $58.50 for three “fill ups;” or $13 more than one tank of gas.
Again, let’s reference my numbers above: I had 45 fill ups in 2018 for a total of $2046.51 spent on gas. If I had a Tesla I would have paid $877.50 for the same amount of fill ups.
Now, let’s look at insurance, yearly registration, and other fees. While my gas car is old, the EV would be new. According to the DMV, the Vehicle Licensing Fee for a $60,000 2018 EV is $423 — gotta fill in the details at the link.
Insurance is high because it’s a new, high end car with limited supply chain so parts are hard to get. My quotes seem to be around $200 a month from various agencies.
It seems California has an EV tax of $100 a year. There’s a version that takes affect in 2020 but there is a version of this fee in affect now, ranging from $25 to $175 based on vehicle price. There’s not a lot of data around this so I’m going to assume $100 is accurate.
- I would drive 13819 miles
- I would pay $877.50 for electricity at Super Chargers
- I would pay $0 in oil changes
- My registration would cost $423
- My insurance would cost $2,400/yr
- California EV Tax: $100
- Total 2018 Cost: $3,800.5
- Total Cost Per Mile: $0.28
What this doesn’t take into account is the loan/finance I’d have on top of the car. This is assuming I bought the car, in full, and it’s actually cheaper to operate my gasoline car. Now let’s just assume the car cost me $60,000 (with tax and new vehicle registration fees) and I put down a $12,000 deposit and financed the rest.
I’ll finance $48,000 at 3% APR for 6 years. My monthly payment would $706, or $8,472 a year, which now brings my 2018 cost to $13,480 or $0.89 a mile. In the end, a Long Range AWD Model 3 is cheaper than Ride Sharing (via carpool), but only just.
The Chevrolet Bolt
The Bolt is a rather popular battery electric vehicle, or BEV. The 2018 Model Year gets 238mi per charge and as an MSRP of $37,000. There are two trim levels for the Bolt, but both of these levels offer the same 60kWh battery so there’s no affect on range.
You can charge the Bolt at a number of EV stations, such as ChargePoint, eVgo, Blink, and a few more. The link to the list of charging networks seems a tad out dated, so I did some research to find out how much it costs to charge. I’m going to look at charging stations close to my work, since that’s likely where I’d plugin the most as I can charge while I’m getting work done.
I’m going to use PlugShare to get prices. The charge point closest to work is ran by Blink and costs $0.59 per kWh for a Blink member, or $0.69 for a guest. There’s another EV point that is $0.28 per kWh about two miles away. There are other stations listed on the map but no charge fee is listed, just that parking is free.
At home I have a few options, there’s a station that has a $1.25 fee for starting a session and charges $0.25 per kWh and there is another station a bit further that offers free charging. For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to pretend that I charge at the same location every time.
However, because I’ve realized it’s so expensive to charge near work I’m instead going to focus more on charging closer to home where I can charge as I go grocery shopping. First, let’s find some variables. Since I drove 13819 miles, the 238mi battery woiuld need to be charged 58 times. It costs $15 to fully charge the Bolts 60 kWh battery.
- I would drive 13819 miles
- I would pay $870 a year for electricity at a local charge station.
- I would pay $72.50 in fees for starting a charge at this charge station.
- I would pay $0 in oil changes
- My regisrtation would be $241
- My insurance would be $1,800 a year
- The Califnornia EV Tax is $100
- Total 2018 Cost: $3,083.50
- Total Cost Per Mile: $0.22
But that’s if the car is fully paid off! Let’s assume I take put down the same $12,000 deposit on the bolt and finance $25,000 at the same 3% APR for 6 years. My monthly payment would be $443 dollars a month or $5316 a year. My cost per mile would be $0.61 a mile.
Some Key Points
Insurance is higher since they are newer cars (2018 vs 2008), but the Model 3 is higher than the Bolt since it’s a pricier car. The car registration follows the same model. Insurance is for full coverage and would certainly drop year over year, as would registration.
Charging the Bolt is a wild variable. The reality is that I wouldn’t charge at the same charger location every time but I’m not going to go back to my map of trips and pick out chargers along the route; a lot of my fill ups were local to my home anyways. Very few were near work and even fewer were 50mi+ from home.
I don’t see the charge stats changing too much. It’s also worth noting that the Tesla can charge at other charging locations via an adapter so I could elect to charge at cheaper, and even free, charging locations.
I could likely lower the cost per mile of the Tesla by electing to get the Standard Range when it releases for $35,000 and using a referral code to get 6 months of free Super Charging. But even without the referral code, the charging will be marginally cheaper since I won’t have to pay an access fee.
This also doesn’t take into account the Federal EV Tax credit of $7,500 as my taxes aren’t high enough to claim the credit.
Somewhat surprisingly my car was cheaper to operate per mile than both EVs, but if I use the adjusted cost per mile of 25¢ then the Chevy Bolt is 3¢ cheaper per mile; I would have saved $414.57 this year with a fully paid off Bolt.
By using public transit every day I would have saved $5,140 over driving which is a huge potential savings. However I’d rather “spend” the $5k and shorten my commute by 840 hours a year so I can have more time at home.
Unsurprisingly, Ride Sharing is not economical. Ride Sharing continues to be better for nights out on the town. With the cost per mile never dropping below $1, I would have spent at least $7,800 more for the privilege of having a personal driver.
I can further lower my cost of ownership by moving closer to work, though I would pay higher rent so I’m unsure if the savings would be tangible. But I’d have a shorter commute and thus more time for errands, personal health, and upkeep. So in that regard, the benefits would outweigh a potential slight increase in expenditures.