How much does it cost to own a Prius?

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.

How much does it cost to own a Prius?
How much does it cost to own a Prius? Our car close to Lake Geneva

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.

How much does it cost to own a Prius?
If we WERE hippies we would have bought this…

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.

Operating costs

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:

How much does it cost to own a Prius? The Numbers
How much does it cost to own a Prius? The 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.

Discussion

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?

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10 Comments

  1. I think the market for secondhand hybrid and electric cars is going to grow quite rapidly. Right now, most of those are still being leased – and those cars get sold on after a few years. So I’d be looking at what’s popular for those who lease cars now, because that’s what you’ll be able to buy secondhand in a few years 🙂

    1. I did see a slow down, and even an temporary uptick in the used value of our car in the last year. Probably due to the strong demand in used cars as a result of a well running economy. But as you note, it will be curious to see what happens when large batches of electric lease cars become available!

  2. Hier nog zo’n hippie hoor! Geen idee wat we er aan uitgeven hoor maar heel tevreden met onze Prius 2. Voor ooit een opvolger ook de wens voor een auris TS. Bedankt voor alle getalletjes 🙂

  3. Just sold my 2004 Fiat Punto yesterday. Bought it in February 2018 but didn’t need it anymore because of work reasons etc.

    I bought it for €1800 and it had €900 in repairs during it’s yearly check-up. What did I sell it for? Well, it turned out it had quite a bad oil leak. €550 is the final price. Overall it costed me around €0.79/km to drive. One of the biggest money pits I have ever experienced, I can tell you that much.

    I will stay with my E-bike for now, maximum cost of €30 per year for some tires and new front brake pads ;’).

  4. Very interesting – thank you! I agree it’s not a sexy car, but then I drive a 2008 Renault Clio five door which is probably even less sexy! We bought it used four years ago for €4400 and it is probably worth peanuts now (especially as diesel sales drop off a cliff – which is good, I like to breathe). We do about 12,000km per year and I am really hoping that it lasts another 3 years or so. On one hand by then there should be a slew of all-electric cars available and with kids out of daycare we’ll be able to afford it. I’ve never, ever bought a new car and never thought I would but moving to an all-electric will drastically cut our family’s GHG emissions so even though it’ll be a terrible financial move I justify it by saying that we need a habitable planet more than money. On the other hand, I wonder if we would be better off, and reduce our emissions further, if we took the cost of a new all-electric in 2022 (maybe €30,000?) and split the money between solar panels, insulation, an electric cargo bike and the hybrid Auris (I agree it’s a nice and relatively efficient car). I think it’ll take a lot of spreadsheet work to figure out!

    1. I like that Clio much more in terms of styling than the Prius! Let me know what you find when you do your calcs! I still have a draft post about “should buy an electric car” in my drafts folder (was a recommendation to write one by a reader of the blog). Still needs loads of input though!!

      1. You probably wouldn’t like the styling as much with the dents we have put in the car! One of the benefits of driving a ten year old car is you don’t need to get stressed about little scrapes and bumps ;-). You should write the blog post about an electric car though! The difficulty will be that it varies a lot depending on what country you are in with government support and electricity prices though. Plus things are changing really fast. Here’s a really good comparison on ownership costs between the UK, Norway, Germany, France and the Netherlands that was published this week: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/feb/12/electric-cars-already-cheaper-own-run-study
        Apparently the VW Golf is 15% cheaper over four years than a VW Golf diesel in the Netherlands but I don’t think you can even buy one at the moment so it’s a bit of a thought experiment more than real-world advice.
        I won’t consider making the plunge before VW and Honda have their purpose-built electric cars available. The market is too high end for me at the moment to consider – €60,000 for a car (Tesla, Jaguar)? No thank you! I’d rather take my BMW – Bus, Metro, Walk.

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