Here's How Expensive It Is to Buy, Own a Car

Average price paid for a new vehicle hit the highest on record in July
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 18, 2022 4:35 PM CDT
Here's How Expensive It Is to Buy, Own a Car
A line of cars are for sale at the Potamkin Hyundai dealership used-car lot on Feb. 1 in Miami Lakes, Fla.   (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

(Newser) – It's more expensive than ever to purchase a new vehicle, and keeping it on the road is becoming more costly, too. The average cost of owning a new vehicle is currently $10,728 per year, or $894 per month—up 11% from 2021, according to AAA, which considered the costs of fuel, insurance, maintenance, licensing, and depreciation. It's "a number that will surprise a lot of people," AAA's director of automotive engineering, Greg Brannon, tells USA Today. "You're usually focused on the purchase price and that is not the whole story. Not even close." Higher gas prices explain a large part of the increase, but vehicle prices have climbed, too, along with the costs of metal and lithium.

The average price paid for a new vehicle was $48,182 in July—the highest on record, up 12% from July 2021, according to Kelley Blue Book. Demand continues to outstrip supply amid a shortage in microchips. There were 1.1 million new vehicles available in the US in July, the same number as in July 2021, which compares with 2.5 million in July 2020 and 3.6 million in July 2019, per CBS News. "As a result, dealers are able to get over the suggested retail price for the vehicle," Brannon says, per USA Today. "Unless you can wait it out, you're going to end up paying a premium," Ivan Drury, senior manager of insights at Edmunds, tells CBS, adding, "I see nothing but increases for quite some time."

Brannon tells USA Today that Americans tend to drive vehicles "like pickup trucks that don't get good fuel economy," which raises costs. Small sedans have the lowest annual ownership costs, followed by electric vehicles. "An electric vehicle owner will spend about 4.0 cents per mile to charge their vehicle at home, while the owner of a gas-powered vehicle will spend an average of 18.4 cents per mile to gas up," according to AAA. While used cars are cheaper to purchase, they've also seen "vicious price climbs" this year, Drury tells CBS. The average price of a used car, between one and five years old, climbed 11% from July 2021 to July 2022, according to an analysis from iSeeCars.com. (Read more vehicles stories.)

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