14 months with a car - statistics, look into the future

Hi everyone

I want to share my story about switching from public transportation/mobility to a private car (14 months now) and I knew cars were expensive, but we decided to go ahead with it anyway.

We are a family of 4 and switched to our own car because of child seats, basically. With mobility or rental is a bit of a pain, particularly with 2 young children.

During this last year average driving profile has been of 9500 km per year, which is going to go down to 8000 km because it included a very long road trip to Italy that we are definitely not repeating any time soon and my wife finding a job 10 min walk from our home instead of occasionally driving the car.

Anyway, let’s make these assumptions:

8500 km pa

Average speed over 14 months : 55 km/h (from the car’ dashboard)

Hours spent with the car powered on, which is basically equivalent to hours spent driving:

155 hours per year.

Up until now, everything included (from renting a parking space near my flat up to fuel etc), my combi shaped car (Kia Ceed sw 2015, used car mit 65k km) has cost me exactly 18k.

Fuel consumption,from both dashboard and validated by dividing fuel bought over distance: 6.5 L/100 km gasoline

11.9k to purchase in perfect condition, validated by the traffic office etc, 3 year warranty remaining (never had a problem until now, finger crossed).

6.1k in parking rent and parking tickets, fuel, tyres, insurance, darkening of the back windows for the kids, accessory (like stuff to de-ice/scrap the car, children seat, etc) annual checkup KIA to keep the warranty, Italian highway fees during holidays, Swiss fees and so on. No fines until now at least!

It’s a lot? Maybe, but I’ve kept track of every single rappen that I spent that I wouldn’t have spent without a car. Almost everything was 2nd hand etc and got multiple offer for insurances etc.

Basically it breaks down to 1k of new equipment/one-off costs, 4k of operating costs, 1k of second year operating costs (insurances, taxes and the likes) that already came in now.

Now let’s do a nice thought experiment for the optimal conditions with unrealistical low prices/costs:

  • I drive the car for the 10 years (85k km, 8.5k pa), then it will have around 150k km. At that point, 9 year from now, resale value will be basically 0 because of too old tech and not encouraged by the state (vs electric car / hybrid)
  • I need no extra accessories/no luggage rack/ nothing new
  • I don’t have any accidents neither repair costs
  • Only costs are insurance, taxes, basic maintenance to keep the car running, let’s say 1000 chf pa
  • Tyres on average 100 chf pa
  • Fuel at 8500 km pa per 1.5 chf p lit gasoline, 6.5 l/100 km = 828.75
  • Never have to pay for parking aside from home neither will have fines for all 10 years
  • Parking at home 70 chf per month (no other way)

My total costs will be 18k + 9x1000 +100x9+828.75x9+ 70x12x9= 42’919 chf, let’s round it to 43k.

I think we can agree that this is a very optimistic view, unrealistically low.

Now as I mentioned I’m actually driving only 155 hours per year (8500 km at 55 km/h average)

So in the end my cost per km would be: 43000/(8500*10) = 0.50 cts/km

My hourly cost of sitting in a car driving will be: 43000/10/155=27.74 chf/hour, to cover only 55 km in average. This is still slightly cheaper than a mobility (55 km in one hour would be around 30 chf) but it really confirms my suspicions that public transportation and mobility are really not that expensive. With an half tax and 60 chf you can cover Bern-Zurich with my family of 4 kids won’t pay) in one hour, compared to ~2 hours by car and 125 km (alas 62.50 chf), and without considering parking in Zurich.

Did you maybe did the same calculation and recording of expenses? Do you reach a similar conclusion?


Hey Grog,
really nice compilation, thanks for sharing!

I like your conservative approach. The absence of any repairs might be one of the stronger assumptions? I currently tend to buying GA (after my employer-sponsored GA will run out), netting ~4k/y, giving me good incentive to travel alot to ticino & valis :smiley:

However just to tease you and everybody else, i can report of a similar calculation i did in 2011 for my 500cc '84 Honda motorbike. i cannot reconstruct the exact calculation (mind the german-based taxes & insurance, i was a student) but it wen around the following lines:

36€/y taxes
44€/y insurance
165€ for a(?) tyre per 15’000km (<= looks like i forgot it has two tyres)
7€ Oil per 6’000km
10€ Oil filter per 12’000 km
40€ spark plugs (4x8€) per 15’000 km
30€ break pads per 30’000 km
the purchase-price of €900 i assumed to stay constant over time, so no cost here

~4l gasoline per 100km (<= is slightly lower in reality)
~5000 km/y
no parking expenses

came down to about 7.1 rappen per km fuel costs and 0.03 rp/km the rest, so basically below 10 rappen per km.

mobility on a shoestirng :smiley:

however later I had to have the carborator membranes replaced, costing some CHF800, completely ruining this calculation :tired_face:

Oops. 91000… one zero too much :slight_smile:

Anyway you did not consider that children do grow up and costs more. Also you can’t go everywhere with the bus/train combo. Mobility might help there though.
There are also other advantage in owning a car, like starting whenever you want, having your own space (no dumb people standing all in front of the bus/tram/train doors when everywhere else is empty) and so on.

One thing I’d be interested to see is a list on how to park cheaply around switzerland. I think I’ve never seen a complete list of tips like that before.

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edited, I didn’t know the asterisk would disappear so I substitute it with a x
Thanks nugget for sharing your experience!

I don’t really want to get down to a fight public transportation vs car costs. Both have advantages and disadvantages and it gets weirder if you include the real estate price aspect (living near vs living far away from public transportation).
The mustachian option is anyway to live near work and bike/walk :smiley:

I was just really surprised that even by taking precautions and going with relatively cheap options, if I really manage to drive this car 10 year (I know only a bunch of people that actually is driving 10+ year old cars, and they are all family :smiley: ) still I will have paid 30 chf for every hour somebody is using it. It makes you think. And it probably be more like 40 with repairs and gasoline near 2 chf instead of 1.5 chf.


I think for obvious reasons. I would not share a spot for cheap parking unless it has unlimited capacity.

What about “Macaron” (blue zone) parking?
It’s not free, but ~200 CHF/year might be worth the price.

300chf in zurich (de/fr/it)

parking in Constanz:

St. Gallen:


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Out of curiosity - how difficult it is to find a parking place in the blue zone in Zurich?
In Geneva it’s around 10-15 minutes of circulating each time…

:flushed: that really sucks! but I guess getting around by car is already really tideous?

It’s quite bad, as I live in the strict city center.
But for weekend outings it’s fine, both the parking and the traffic…
For everyday use, it’s much better to use the public transport.

I assume in other big cities (Zurich?) is not so bad then?

For Zurich it depends where exactly you live and at what time in the evening you try your luck. In general it’s less than 10-15 minutes.
However the government recently reduced the number of parking in blauer Zone wherever there was an opportunity. They say it’s the most efficient way to stop people having cars.


I’ve noticed that there are two different programs for parking outside big cities. Park & Ride and Park & Rail.
I think the first one give you a free ticket to use public transportation, while the latter not.
Interesting is also that Park and Rail costs 60CHF per month near the airport. I wonder if someone tried using it to park and then fly. 60CHF seems ok-ish compared to the airport…

Many thanks @Grog! This is very detailed and super useful.

Just to add my 2 cents. I bought my first car in CH after relying for 33 years on various combinations of public transport, car pooling / sharing, car rentals and later mobility.

One thing that I particularly enjoyed that is really difficult to factor in $$$ calculations is that it allowed me to see many places where public transport is difficult or nonexistent. With an added benefit of having a van quickly and cheaply converted to a small camper - that cut the accommodation costs pretty nicely :wink:

One thing that I didn’t enjoy and also find hard to calculate & estimate is the randomness of car failure. Sure you can count the cost of insurance and changing new tires. But having a second hand car - stuff can break. One can get lucky, get a beaten car and drive it for years (my mum proudly drives 24 yo VW back at home - it literally never had any major repair done since a decade). One (like me) can get a second hand car and have clutch dead on the first weekend trip that suddenly adds up to 10% of the value of the car :confused:

Yeah of course luck (and driving style) may play a role :smiley:

The thing is, 55km/h average is going to be similar for a lot of drivers. that means that independently of how much you drive per year, the final average cost of sitting in a car for one hour driving will always be between 20 and 100+ dollars depending on how luxurious (and / or how lucky you are with repair) is your car. That is my biggest takeaway of my calculation.

Freedom to drive a car anywhere is cool, but it doesn’t come cheap.


For a holiday week in Switzerland I just rented a small car on sharoo (beware! The user experience of app/website is below any standards)
But the car will cost me 160CHF per week and 32 Rappen gas included per km which (according to the TCS) is hard to beat even if you own a car

I wonder if the guy sharing the car did the right calcualtions…If I sahre my car, the cheapest way is with the easy abo which costs me 19 chf per month, 99 chf of technical installation and sharoo takes 30% of the commission. If the guy is sharing at 0.32 chf per km, then he only gets 22 cts. I wonder how he is not losing money by wasting more the car without using it himself.

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I don’t think parking gets any cheaper than a municipal parking permit (Anwohnerparkkarte). In Zürich it costs 300 francs a year. That’s half of the min. 50 francs per month to rent a parking space. Of course, there are also houses/apartments which include free parking in the base rent, but that’s the exception.

Very cool analysis! It’s very interesting to see how companies can price their product just about right so that you switch.
Then after a few years everyone will forget how to have their own car, it will probably get more expensive to have your own car because less people do it, and prices for renting can go up.
And if regulation or taxes can be introduced to discourage people from having their own car, then renting prices can really go up.
Pricing power at work.