I was having this conversation with my coworker last week. She does very well and owns lots of cars, but the recent traffic nightmare that has become her commute ultimately pushed her towards purchasing a barely-used 2017 Focus, which was *heeeeeavily* discounted, as she knew the general manager of the dealer personally. The short version is: she used to commute with either a 2002 Denali or a 2006(?) STS-V (and oh God it’s immaculate, I want it).
We usually talk cars, comparing stuff like her $500 burnt out tail light on the STS-V vs my $1000-something timing belt. But for the context of the conversation, my side was that my vehicle was paid for, up-to-date on maintenance, and I had a short commute. Therefore it would take years for the savings on, say, a used CT200h, to pay for itself when compared to just driving the IS300. Plus, I like it too much to justify selling it. Her side was she wanted to keep the wear and tear off of her favorite cars and gas was getting too expensive, so she went and made a deal.
But mathematically speaking for her side, let’s assume the following factors:
-2017 Focus mpg: 33mpgs mixed (conservative)
-2006 STS-V: 15mpgs mixed (on a good day, observed by the owner)
-an average price of $3.50 per gallon gas over the next X years (EXTREMELY conservative for this area, but I had to pick some arbitrary number).
- a commute of 10,560 miles per year for work
What I came up with was: her Focus will have paid for itself in 5.21 years, when compared to commuting with the STS-V. And here are some other factors that can’t properly be measured:
- I’m pretty sure the STS-V takes premium, so the car probably pays for itself even sooner.
- I have zero faith that the average price of gas over the next X years would be only $3.50 here in the Seattle area. Thus the car may again likely pay for itself sooner.
- Maintenance costs. Every story she’s had about the STS-V indicates that nothing is cheap. I can’t imagine an old Yukon Denali being much better as time marches on.
- She wants to keep miles off the Denali and STS-V because she loves them and wants to keep them as long as possible. The Focus is the sacrificial miles-eater. This love — as we all know — cannot be measured by dollars.
I did the exercise myself in the past — in extreme jest:
So, in my “who give a shit what you think anyway” opinion, this move is fucking brilliant for her.
She is, however, but an anecdote. When I see a new Corolla or Versa on the road, or get picked up by an Uber Prius, I always wonder to myself: what car (if any) did they have before? Was this worth it? To they drive a Lotus on the weekends?
What do you think? How many consumer are out there actually crunching numbers when they go from a 1996 Camry SE V6 Coupe that they bought for 2k and needs nothing, to a base CVT Corolla?