The Real Cost of Car Ownership in the Russian City

Let’s talk about cars. Today I’m sure that the car is expensive entertainment but it wasn’t always the way. When I was teenager I dreamed of having my own car. I saw how it was useful for my parents and of course it was cool when I was steering the vehicle. After 20 years I’m going to show why a car is NOT an appropriate tool for almost all cities in Russia.


Public transport in Russia

Russia is a vast country with 1 100 cities and 80% of the population who lives in cities. The cities are having pretty satisfactory and regular public transport which is not bad but not so good. Traditionally, the urban transportation services don’t respect the passengers, they don’t care about people’s feelings and comfort. Perhaps, this is a part of the Russian mentality. Furthermore, the Russians have sad prejudice: you are a poor person if you use the bus or something similar. Display of well being is the main reason why people buy cars in Russia. If you think that they are using the cars for shopping, surprise, that’s not true. Using the cars for shopping is not necessary in Russia because shops are located within walking distance.

My current life style

During my life I have had six cars. It is enough to understand my mistakes. I’m working with computers during12 years. My office was in the city center but today I work at home or in the co-working place or I use a cafe sometimes. My wife and daughter attend some children facilities by using a taxi or private buses. If I want to buy something, first of all, I look for it in the online stores and after that I may be visit local stores.

Cost of car ownership

In order to manage family finance we use the financial mobile app Zenmoney, that is very suitable for families. I have collected detailed information about the ownership of the Audi A3 2015.

The car ownership for two years

It seems not expensive but you have to know that the average salary in Russia is 550 USD.

During 2 years we have driven 38 000 km that is equal 9 RUB or 0.13 USD per km.

As you can see, I haven’t had any car incidents and didn’t include fines in the table. My example is the perfect use case, though my previous 5 cars hadn’t so luck.

Waste of time

Oh, actually, when you drive a car you are busy driving a car. It is obvious, because the driver can’t do anything other than drive a car. Let’s calculate how much time I have spent in the car. 38 000 km divided by average speed (I took 60 km/h) equals 633 hours or 26 full days or 79 work days. I have an hourly rate on my work that means I waisted 4 work months and I hadn’t to pay for a rented apartment for one month.

Furthermore, accounted for this logic we have to calculate time that we have spent to the car service or car support. I have calculated one and received just about 120 hours.

I think that it's too much for my short life. It is seems like a joke: you buy a car to be more mobile and to save more time of your life but this doesn’t happen.

In all fairness, when we use alternative transport we also spend some time but we can choose what we would do when we sit in taxi or stand in the bus.

Most people can’t find free time for learning new knowledge areas but nevertheless continue spend their time driving the cars.

Waste of space

Another problem is parking. Car owners have to keep in mind the parking solutions and should take care of the space for the car near the home. In Russia we haven’t any fee for car storage but any square meter in the city is worth the money. As a result, all residents of the city pay for space , even those who do not have a car.

Cost of Distance

Above I have calculated the cost of a kilometre without fuel costs. Add to our calculation 2.9 RUB (0.044 USD) per km that follows from the gasoline transactions for two years. Taking into account the cost of ownership and fuel costs and we have 11.9 RUB (0.18 USD) per km.

The 0.18 USD per km is the cost of the trip by car in the regular Russian city. Let’s compare with the taxi, train and plane.

  • Own car (Audi A3) — 11.9 RUB (0.18 USD) per km;
  • Taxi (Yandex, UBER) — 9 RUB (0.14 USD) per km;
  • Plane — 7 RUB (0.11 USD) per km;
  • Train — 4 RUB (0.06 USD) per km;
  • City Bus, Underground — around 25–35 RUB (0.4 — 0.6 USD ) to one way;

When I have to buy a car?

Nowadays, the design of personal transport is completely outdated because the values, which automakers transmit to us, are wrong. We use car for yourself and we don’t need to have the 5-seats cars with a large boot. The reviews tell us about the size of boots, maximum speed or quality of plastic or fuel consumption but today it doesn't mater. I care more about how many times I have to pay attention to the car or the car would be more reasonable for my life.

I will buy own car when I will be living outside the city or when someone will invent personal capsules of vehicles to get around the city.

This is an example of our future