Consumers "wasting millions” daily by mistakenly focusing on fuel economy, say CAP

MILLIONS of pounds are wasted every day by drivers who focused on fuel economy when they chose their car, instead of the real cash-killer - depreciation.

That’s the warning from the leading independent experts on motoring costs, CAP Automotive.

Consumer research consistently reveals British motorists' obsession with the cost of filling up with fuel. But figures released by CAP reveal how choosing a car that holds its value well delivers much bigger savings over time than focusing on fuel efficiency.

According to CAP’s unique car ownership cost figures, the average cash value lost by the typical medium family car bought 3 years ago is £12,559 - and rising.

But the same cars, driven 12,000 miles a year, have only burned an average £4,000 of fuel.

Depreciation has therefore cost the typical motorist 3 times as much as they have spent at the pumps.

Yet research published this month by leading auction company British Car Auctions saw motorists continuing to place fuel at the top of their list of motoring cost concerns. BCA's research mirrors similar findings last year by CAP itself, which revealed the average motorist's mistaken belief that only a car's purchase price outweighs fuel economy as the key to saving cash. 

Now, new figures from CAP prove the importance of understanding the significance of depreciation. CAP also reveals how consumers can identify cars which will lose them less money.

According to CAP’s free ‘Total Cost of Motoring’ calculator at the total expenditure on fuel over 3 years for a typical medium family car ranges from around £1,600 for a super-efficient hybrid to around £5,700 for a performance coupe in the same ‘lower medium’ car sector.

But depreciation in the same sector ranges from about £8,000 over 3 years for one car that delivers standard mpg to more than £23,000 for a car that boasts unbeatable fuel economy.

“Everyone assumes consumers are well informed these days because there are a lot of car information sources on the internet, but our research consistently shows that motorists have a lot to learn about the real savings they could make over the long term with their car choices,” said Philip Nothard, CAP’s Retail & Consumer expert.

“The problem is that motorists either think there is nothing they can do about depreciation or they simply don’t understand that fuel costs should be the least of their worries when you compare what they’ll spend at the pumps with how much they’ll lose by choosing one car when another holds its value so much better.”

Charting the difference between the impact of depreciation over 3 years and the typical cost of fuel over 36,000 miles, reveals how fuel savings are dwarfed by the economies achieved by avoiding heavy depreciation.

CAP illustrates the savings that can be made by motorists by comparing the overall ownership costs of the most fuel efficient car in the large family car sector with those of the lowest depreciating car in the same sector.

The figures reveal that the least thirsty plug-in hybrid in CAP's database costs around £1,500 at the pumps over 36,000 miles. In contrast, a standard-engine Ford Mondeo 1.6 Graphite costs much more to fill up, at £5,000 over the same distance.

But the Mondeo owner will only lose about £10,000 in depreciation over 3 years while the motorist who saved at the pumps in their expensive hybrid will wave goodbye to a whopping £34,000 when they come to sell or trade their car in.

Philip Nothard said: “When motorists put expenditure on fuel at the top of their list of cost concerns, they simply get it wrong.

“This is why we would always advise consumers to check all the maths first, when they are looking to buy a car. Using a free calculation tool like CAP’s ‘Total Cost of Motoring’ gives anyone who wants to really save money on their car the best possible chance of making the smartest decision.

“The fact is that motorists are wasting millions of pounds every day by not looking at the bigger car ownership costs picture and, instead, mostly worrying about the mpg figures of the cars they buy.”