Old cars are economical

Old Faithful, Mid-life Crisis or EV?

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What do you think is the most economical car to drive? Is it your old faithful with has a bit of wear and tear but still does the job. Is it the new hip and trendy thing you bought to fulfil your midlife crisis yearnings. OR is it the Electric Vehicle (EV) which you thought you would buy because it will show your neighbours that you the guys who is going to save the world (your the man!)

Well the answer really depends on a number of things:

  1. What is the value of your car?
  2. What miles to the gallon does it achieve on average (mpg)?
  3. How expensive is it to maintain and repair?
  4. How expensive is it to insure?
  5. How much do you pay for fuel?
  6. What are you going to use it for?

OK so lets look at a practical example of how this all works:

You want to go to the shops that are 10 miles down the road but you can’t be bothered standing in the rain waiting for the local bus which takes an hour to travel 10 miles as it goes around the houses.  So what car in your fleet is the most economical for this journey?

Your old faithful is worth £500 (at a push) it uses diesel and travels 50mpg, costs around £250 to service and MoT (let’s be honest you spend as little as possible on this car) , insurance is third party so £100 , road tax is £140, to replace tyres costs £50 per tyre and the diesel you buy is £1.30 per litre.  If we fire that through our calculator (which we can provide on request) you see that it cost 17.84p/mile.  So all in all it is going to cost £3.57 for the trip using Old Faithful.

Next the midlife crisis car.  Its a sports car that cost around £40k, uses petrol and travels 25mpg, costs around £1K per year to service and maintain, insurance is £750, road tax is £140. The cost per tyre is £120 and petrol is £1.28 per litre.  The cost of using the Midlife Crisis car is 83.83p/mile.  For a trip to the shops in the Midlife Crisis car is going to cost £16.77

Alright you decide to be environmentally friendly.  You know your EV will travel at least 45 miles so it will make it there and back.  The car cost £30K, uses electricity (obviously) travel the equivalent of 50mpg, cost around £500 year to service and maintain, insurance is £250 and road tax is £0. The cost per tyre is £75 and the cost of electricity is equivalent to 4p/mile.  Ideally we should take the bus but if we decide to take the EV then the costs is 42.96p/mile. Thus for the trip to the shops it will cost £8.59

OLD FAITHFUL is therefore the most economical car to take to the shops.

Why is Old Faithful the most economical?  Well its mostly to do with ‘depreciation’ and the low running costs. Old Faithful is already worth practically nothing so there is very little depreciation to account for, and as it is an old car you obviously don’t want to spend too much on it so the running costs are relatively low.  Thus running around in an old car where your not worried if someone dinks your door or not is probably your most economical option.

Now I have to say this is definitely not the best option for the environment.  Obviously the EV is the best option for the environment, after the bus, but EVs currently have their limitations i.e. how far they can travel on one charge.  For long distances EVs are not the best choice.  If you are arguing a Tesla can do more miles then the answer is yes it can but equally it wouldn’t cost you £30k, more like £80K which means the pence per mile moves up to nearer the £1/mile region, now that definitely isn’t economical.  It may encourage more people to use the car less (which again is good for the environment) but it is certainly not the economical option.

Midlife crisis cars are good fun cars.  Lets be honest, they are not bought because you want an economical car, so they are never going to be in the running when considering economics.  Mid range family cars are somewhere between EVs and Old Faithfuls.  Normally you would expect to get around 35p/mile for a mid range family car.  So if you want some economy as well as showing you care to a certain extent about the environment then a mid range family car is probably your best best (a hybrid is probably an even better compromise).

SO what is the most economical car to buy and run?  Yes it is the Old Faithful which has little value, you spend little or nothing to maintain it and at the end of the day you can run it on the belief that you are doing your part to keep loads of rubber, plastic and other scrap from adding to our growing landfill problem.

Just confirms that economics and environmental action don’t quite jell, so to get the EV economy going it looks like someone is going to have to offer some big subsidies somewhere.

Happy car hunting!


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