ORLANDO, Fla. — The average cost of owning and operating a new vehicle in the U.S. jumped 13.6% in the past year, the latest figures from AAA Inc. show.
The increase is tied predominantly to higher new car and financing costs as well as accelerated depreciation. Cost associated with vehicle maintenance — including fuel, repairs and tires — dropped nearly 7% from the previous year, AAA's figures show.
The latest data show it costs $12,182 a year, or $1,015 a month, to own and operate a vehicle based on driving 15,000 miles a year. This contrasts with $10,728, or $894 monthly, from a year ago.
Expressed on a per-mile basis, the costs calculate out to 81 cents per mile for 15,000 miles. The average rises to $1.05 for 10,000 miles traveled and drops to 69 cents for 20,000 miles, AAA's data show.
"Due to global supply-chain issues and constrained inventory of new vehicles, car prices rose dramatically in 2022," Greg Brannon, AAA's director of automotive research said, "and while the situation continues to improve, the spillover effects are keeping prices high."
The overall average manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) of the new vehicles in the 2023 YDC study is $34,876, or 4.7% ($1,575) higher than in 2022.
Compounding the problem, higher sticker prices directly impact finance costs, AAA said. This aspect of ownership cost jumped 90% this year over 2022 to $1,253 a year.
Other factors AAA takes into account are:
- Depreciation — vehicles purchased within the past year are expected to depreciate by an average of $4,538 per year over five years of ownership, up 24% over 2022;
- Trim levels — Auto makers across the board have focused on producing more oversized, luxurious, and expensive vehicles, loaded with extra features that bump up prices even more.
Worth noting: the cost of fuel, expressed as cost per mile, dropped roughly 2 cents, or 11.5%, from the 2022 figure. The one exception was the cost of charging electric vehicles (EVs), which increased about 2 cents per kilowatt-hour, or nearly 14%, to 15.8 cents.
Costs associated with maintenance, repair and tires edged up slightly, 1.5% to 9.83 cents per mile, AAA's figures show. The federation of travel agencies did not provide a tires-only figure.
AAA tracks costs for nine vehicle categories, from small sedan to half-ton pickup trucks, and including hybrids and EVs.
Given their size, fuel economy and prices, half-ton pickups have the highest average driving costs. AAA noted, and chalked up the greatest increase in costs per mile, 22.6% over 2022, to $1.06 per mile at 15,000 miles a year.
"The once-popular pickup truck is now seeing a slight decline in demand as these vehicles have become increasingly expensive, rivaling the price of many luxury cars," Brannon said. "As interest rates continue to climb, this adds a layer of expense per month that consumers should consider when shopping for their next vehicle."
Small sedans are the least expensive to own and operate, at 60 cents per mile. Hybrids and EVs are relatively close in cost per mile, at 64.3 and 67.4 cents, the AAA data show.
AAA maintains an online driving costs calculator that provides an interactive and personalized breakdown for car shoppers that uses the same methodology as AAA's annual analysis of new car ownership.