Metadata about our car.
To run our old, 2008-era BMW on the streets of London it costs about £2,200 a year, or £3,500 if you factor in depreciation.
In 2022 we drove about once a week, which means each trip cost us a little under £42.
93% of the time it is parked stationary outside our house and we spent less than 0.9% of the year actually sitting in the car driving it between places.
In eight of the twelve months of 2022 we drove less than 200 miles. The average miles per trip in nine of those months was less than 50 miles, and throughout the whole year never took more than 8 trips a month.
We’ve had the car for 13 years, and lived in Ealing for 12 of those years. We don’t commute to work by car and have little by way of necessary appointments that aren’t accessible by public transport or active travel, so the car is purely for leisure activities, darting around at our convenience.
Of the £2,200, insurance accounts for £500 of that total (we are 40-somethings and have never claimed), £180 is for UK tax based on it’s CO2 emissions, another £100 for an Ealing on-road parking permit, and the service and annual MOT normally throws up a few issues (this year a leaking gasket, last year some new spark plugs) making our average repair bill about £450.
So without driving a mile, to keep the car legally parked on the road, it costs just over £1,200, or £22 for each of our 53 journeys.
According to the MOT log we’ve driven a little over 3000 miles a year for the last few years. To fill the car full of petrol for these mostly short, city-dwelling, low-mpg trips at an average of 160p per litre it works out at around £900 at today's prices, perhaps a bit less at lower historic average in recent years.
If we add various other costs - parking fees and the occasional parking ticket, the various liquids the car likes to drink, an ultra-rare wash, there’s probably a conservative £100-200 more we spend on it each year.
All of which adds up to approximately £2,200, or the aforementioned £42 per trip.
But the car, unless you are lucky to own a classic, which ours is most certainly not, is a depreciating asset, and so on top of the annual running cost there’s been a gradual ebbing away of the value from the original £20k purchase price.
Thirteen years later its current value is between £1k and £2k, depending on how much you value a decade of sandwich crumbs and stale Haribo down the backseats, which means an annual £1,300 cost to add to the £2,200 running costs if calcuated at a linear decreasing sum.
Granted, as an extra few years of life is dragged out of the poor thing, and as the resale value plummets towards zero, the annual depreciation will be a little lower each year, but it's still part of the overall bill we foot.
The next task was to work out what we use the car for.
I downloaded our journey data from Google Maps timeline, which tracks where I am 24/7 and then accurately guesses my mode of transport for each journey. Google gives me a log of car journeys over the last year and tells me that over 2022 we made about 1 car journey a week.
Looking back at the data there’s four categories of trip - lazy journeys where we could have walked or used the bike/bus/tube, local ones with a heavy load, longer day trips out of town, and holidays away from home.
About half of our journeys (24 trips) are under 10 miles, some out of convenience (to the swimming pool which is on the bus route about 150m from our front-door), but some more necessary (taking lumpy things to our storage place or the cat to the vet) which would be more challenging, though not impossible, by bike, bus, or foot.
The other half of the trips were what I would classify as day trips (or long weekends), where we’d go and see friends and family, either across London or dotted around the counties surrounding the M25.
In addition to the day trips, in 2022, and over the past few years due to the pandemic, we’ve taken a holiday in the UK, so in August we drove 1000 miles on a little tour around a few pleasant parts of England.
We like the car, I quite like driving, and you can't sing along to Bohemian Rhapsody on the top deck of the E3 to Brentford without some odd looks, but at over £70 per trip the car feels a bit of an extravagance.