January 5, 2019

One year of Car Next Door vs. owning a car

I’ve been using Car Next Door (car sharing service in Australia) for just over a year now, so I tallied up the costs to see how it compares with owning a car.

My usage patterns

  • 580 km travelled between October 2017 and January 2019, around Sydney
  • Small Car” vehicle type
  • No added damage cover, except for the very first trip
  • I’m on the free Featherweight plan, which means each trip has a $5 booking fee

The Verdict

Since I use a car very little, Car Next Door is the clear winner. I suspected this intuitively, but it’s nice to finally see by just how much.

At 95c per km, it’s higher than the 54c per km when owning a Toyota Corolla, but it means I can coast way under the fixed and ongoing costs of ownership (insurance, depreciation, etc.).

To demonstrate, this chart compares my cumulative Car Next Door costs (petrol included) with the cumulative costs of just owning a car (not even considering petrol to use it).

Cumulative costs of ownership (before petrol) and Car Next DoorCumulative costs of ownership (before petrol) and Car Next Door

Here are the assumptions I made for the costs of ownership:

Item Cost Notes
Purchase Price $10,000.00 Rough estimate for a used Toyota Corolla
Stamp Duty $300.00 Stamp duty is 3% in NSW
Parking per month $200.00 Carparks in my apartment building go for $50 per week. I included an extra line on the comparison chart that excludes this amount, which assumes street parking instead
Insurance per month $69.50 Based on a quick online quote
Servicing per month $37.50 This is a very rough guess based on some suggestions on Reddit threads
Depreciation per month $125.00 Calculated using this depreciation calculator
Roadside Assistance per month $9.99

I didn’t include the purchase price (or the opportunity cost of that money) when comparing with Car Next Door, but I did include the monthly depreciation.

Overall Impressions

Car Next Door has a number of things going for it, but these ones are key for me:

  • Not locked in to fixed ownership costs, which it turns out can be upwards of $6,000 per year.
  • It feels good to have one less parked car sitting idle in my neighbourhood, meanwhile making use of someone else’s.
  • No mental overhead thinking about whether my car is parked in a legal/safe spot, or protected from Sydney hail storms.

But it also has some downsides:

  • Compared to GoGet, Car Next Door is still a bit harder to use: the lockbox is harder than swiping a card, and you have to take lots of photos before and after each trip. Quite fun in the pouring rain!
  • You’re subject to the availability of cars around you, which requires either forward planning or a bit of luck when booking on the day.

I’ll probably start using it more often and will see how the numbers look for 2019.

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