25 April 2007


Jim Rink (313) 336-1513

Consumers feeling pinched by increases in day-to-day living expenses can take some comfort in AAA’s annual study of driving costs released today. According to the nation’s largest organization for motorists, the cost of owning and operating a new vehicle in 2007 remains basically unchanged from a year ago at 52.2 cents per mile, or $7,823 per year, when driving 15,000 miles annually.

“While costs for some items such as insurance and financing increased from the start of 2006, a lower cost for fuel at the end of last year offset these expenses resulting in no net increase in the projected average driving expense for 2007,” said John Nielsen, director of AAA’s Approved Auto Repair network.

The average fuel price dropped slightly from 9.5 cents per mile to 8.9 cents per mile compared to one year ago. Fuel prices in the study are based on the fourth quarter 2006 U.S. price for regular grade fuel, which averaged $2.256 per gallon as tracked in the AAA Fuel Gauge Report (www.aaafuelgaugereport.com).

The costs of maintenance and repair, tires and depreciation remain unchanged from one year ago. However, minor increases in the costs of insurance, financing and licensing, registration and taxes offset any savings consumers might have realized from lower fuel costs. (More detailed information on all costs is contained in the study.)

AAA’s Your Driving Costs looks at operating and ownership costs of five top-selling models in three popular size classes: small, medium, and large sedans. The results clearly show that consumers do have an opportunity to save substantial sums of money by switching from larger models to smaller vehicles.

For example, AAA’s research shows the average annual cost of driving a small sedan is $6,217 per year, while a large sedan costs almost 50 percent more to own and operate at $9,380 per year. Smaller, but still significant, savings can be realized by driving a minivan instead of a larger, more expensive and less fuel-efficient SUV. AAA estimates the annual expense of owning and operating a typical minivan at $8,639 per year based on 15,000 miles of driving. An SUV driven the same distance costs an average of $9,997 per year, AAA reports, which is over 15 percent higher.

AAA’s estimated average driving costs are higher than the Internal Revenue Service’s allowance for 2007 business mileage of 48.5 cents per mile. The IRS has never allowed full reimbursement of all expenses associated with automobile ownership and use. AAA first began publishing research on driving costs in 1950.

AAA’s study calculates the average costs of all expenses associated with owning and operating a vehicle over five years and 75,000 miles of driving using small, mid-size and large sedans. Covered expenses include fuel, maintenance, tires, insurance, license, registration, taxes, depreciation and finance charges. Driving costs in each category are based on average costs for five top-selling models selected by AAA. By size category, they are:

Small sedan – Chevrolet Cobalt, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Nissan Sentra and Toyota Corolla.

Medium sedan – Chevrolet Impala, Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry.

Large sedan – Buick Lucerne, Chrysler 300, Ford Five Hundred, Nissan Maxima and Toyota Avalon.

Though not part of the AAA composite average, SUV and minivan information has been included to help buyers estimate operating costs for these types of vehicles.

SUV models include: Chevrolet Trailblazer, Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Nissan Pathfinder, and Toyota 4Runner.

Minivans include: Chevrolet Uplander, Dodge Grand Caravan, Ford Freestar, Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna.

Upon request and subject to availability, AAA clubs can provide members with this year’s “Your Driving Costs” brochure. The brochure provides detailed information on the costs associated with the five categories of vehicles used in the AAA study. The study also can be found on AAA’s public affairs Web site, www.aaaexchange.com.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 50 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully-tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at: www.aaa.com. National and state-by-state, daily retail fuel prices are available at www.fuelgaugereport.com.