Until the Robot Cars Arrive, Here Is How Much You’re Paying Per Year of Car Ownership

According to Lyft.

Photo credit: Kārlis Dambrāns (edited), CC BY 2.0.

I’ve mentioned before in The Billfold’s comment section that I have a new motivation for not buying a car or re-learning how to drive: if I can just hold out for five more years, I’ll be able to use self-driving cars for the rest of my life.

Also, as Lyft co-founder John Zimmer notes, I’ll save $9,000 per year in car ownership costs:

As a country, we’ve long celebrated cars as symbols of freedom and identity. But for many people — especially millennials — this doesn’t ring true. We see car ownership as a burden that is costing the average American $9,000 every year. The car has actually become more like a $9,000 ball and chain that gets dragged through our daily life. Owning a car means monthly car payments, searching for parking, buying fuel, and dealing with repairs.

Zimmer links his $9,000 figure back to stats from AAA, which notes that although the costs of a small sedan might only be $6,579 per year, the average cost of all sedans is $8,558 per year.

Zimmer’s article, which details how Lyft plans to revolutionize transportation in the next decade, also confirms my theory that robot cars will be ubiquitous in five years’ time. We’ll pay for them, possibly via a subscription service with different levels of access, but we won’t have to pay $9,000 per year to maintain cars of our own.

If $9,000 per year (or $750 per month) sounds high to you, here’s a story to suggest it’s a reasonable estimate: at The Motley Fool, Maxx Chatsko tracked every car-related expense for three years and discovered that he was paying $10,822 per year on his car. He also notes that his per-year payment will get lower over time, once he pays off his car loan:

The good news is that I can slash my lifetime cost of car ownership per mile in half because I’ll no longer have a car payment. The bad news is I have to drive 150,000 miles and spend nearly $79,000 first, although that works out to a relatively manageable $5,244 per year on average. And that’s only if I avoid a catastrophic maintenance session with my mechanic as my car ages.

That’s just one of the reasons why I am going to hold out for those self-driving cars. I paid $20 on public transportation last month, and $182 on Lyfts and Ubers. How much are you paying on your car, or on your public transportation and rideshare expenses?