I bet this is going to be one of the worst read posts in a long time. Plus I’ve now probably
also lost half my readers, I guess. But yes, we actually own a Prius, the wagon version. How much does it cost to own a Prius? Let’s find out!
How much does it cost to own a Prius?
I can hear you think: “why on earth did you buy a Prius you bloody hippie?”. Probably not for the reason you think. We drove a lovely Volvo S60T for years, but that got into electrical problems and needed repairs worth more than half the value of the car. That was not going to work. Plus, we are tall, so are many of our friends and family. There was not that much space in the back of the Volvo for tall folks, we wanted to change this in our new car.
Selecting a new car
What we did is we went to a bunch of international cars shows and tested over 60 different models to see where we could comfortably sit behind each other (we are 1.87m and 1.94m). Couple restrictions: No pick-trucks or SUV’s (I don’t like the handling, nor the fuel consumption), no vans (I still have some pride left in me), reliable and affordable. Oh, did I mention we wanted loads of space, also for our large furry friend? So not too many restrictions 🙂
We actually ended up with a selection of 3 (comfortable rear seat) cars during the last car show we visited (this is was back in 2013). One was as a Toyota Rav4, but since that was an SUV it quickly dropped off the list. We also fitted properly in a BMW 7 series, but that was too expensive (go figure!) and the dog didn’t fit in the boot/trunk. And there was this Toyota Prius Wagon…
I talked to a lot of cabbies a that time, whom drove this car professionally. All of them were really happy with the reliability and operating costs. Most drove over 160.000km (100.000 miles) and only needed a flush of the transmission system. No battery problem either (in a country with brutal winters!). It seems we had found our car!
Purchase and International Move
We bought the car back in early 2014 when it was just 10 months old and only had done 6.700km (~4.000 miles). The market for second-hand Prius’ was very small and we didn’t have much choice, so ended up with a Toyota dealer.
That being said, the car was new (including taxes & fees) around $32.000 CAD (~€21.350), we “only” paid $25.500 (€17.000) for the car. We actually ended paying a bit less to drive away as we still got $5.000 CAD back for our old car.
But think about it, the first owner lost more than $6.500 CAD on that car in the first 9 months or so. Ouch, that is a depreciation of about $1CAD per km! NEVER buy a new car, unless you dive it into the ground over a 15-30 year period.
We then moved the car back with us to the Netherlands. This costed us $8.000 CAD (~€5.330) for the international move and another $1.000 CAD (~€670) for import fees and modification to get it road legal here. In all, we spent, near as makes no different, €23.000 for our less than 100hp beast of a car.
Many, many numbers
The car is about to celebrated it’s 6th year anniversary. It’s gone in for it’s yearly checkup and has now done ~79.600km. According to an online assessment it’s still worth around €13.500 based on age and odometer reading (when sold to a dealer). In short, it depreciated (for us) about €9.500 in the last 5 years. Based on a driven distance of about 72.000km. That is ~€1.900/year or €0.13/km
However, this same car in the Netherlands would have cost you €36.000 including taxes and fees when bought new. So if you bought one and would have driven it the same amount as we have, your depreciation would have been a whopping €22.500! That is €0.31/km or €4.100/year. Damn… that’s a lot of money.
I’ve recalculated everything into euro’s taking an average conversion rate of $1.50 CAD/euro. Just to keep things consistent and simple for me. Here are some (more) numbers:
Couple of notes, the “high” maintenance in 2014 was including the purchase of 4 winter tires (got the rims for “free” at the dealer already). Year 2014 and part of 2015 have the “Canadian” expenses, the rest are expenses in the Netherlands. Expenses for import are not included in the operating cost but in the depreciation. I had a company car for part of 2015 and the whole of 2016, therefore the low km driven in those years.
As you can see, insurance is much more expensive in Canada, but actual maintenance costs are not as bad. Kind of what you expect with icy roads and living in a car nation. The registration of your car in the Netherlands is really expensive though! Welcome to a country that focusses on bicycles and good public transport (most of the time).
The dip in mileage for 2017 and the relatively high maintenance costs had to do with rear break issues. The break pads didn’t want back properly into the caliper, in short they were still rubbing on the discs. I noticed the drop in mileage, but there was no noise and no noticeable issues with driving
the car (it happened during the winter and highway km were low). However, they could have seized if I had not kept an eye on fuel consumption and visited a garage to check for issues. Unfortunately it happened slowly over time, so it was already quite “late” before I intervened.
The garage attempted to fix the issues by cleaning the capiler and pistons, but the same problem surfaced again this year (2019). I’m awaiting to pick up the car as we speak and pay a bill of over €830 (does also include the APK fee, general large maintenance/lube & a one year European road assistance membership).
Would I buy one again?
The car is great for it’s space, ride comport and practicality. I can fit 2,7m (9ft) long framing beams and drywall sheets in it and close the boot! It fits tall people very comfortably and it did very well on our road trip. However, it’s ugly and not very sexy. Speed is actually not that bad when in power mode, but fuel consumption will drop quickly. It handles decent on the road, but the all-season energy saver tires don’t give a whole lot of grip (the Michelin winter tires are much better thou!).
The breaks did have issues before I expensed them, but this could have something to do with the fact that the car has been parked under large trees or in front of our house (north side). In short, the car stayed very moist for very long periods during the last 4 years. That’s not going to enhance it’s operating life…
Still, I would consider buying one again. Looking at other bloggers, a Prius might not be such a bad car! Plus, we don’t seem to be the only hippies 🙂 But considering the actual costs (which are still high), we might downsize to an Auris Touring Sports. A whole lot cheaper to buy, but still a fair amount of space. That being said, I hope to have this car for at least another 10-15 years. After that it might become a full electric car, or no car at all, if we find the right spot to live.
What do you drive and how expensive is it?