'The cost of driving is the biggest concern for modern motorists'

The rising cost of driving in the UK is the biggest concern for motorists, says Mike Rutherford


The biggest day-to-day problem for real-world motorists is not the much talked about death sentence (really?) for the internal combustion engine. Neither is it the state of the UK’s EV charging network, which a lot of people might not even use during the next decade or more. 

For the motoring masses, regular power outages are unlikely to be the problem many people suggest as more motorists defect from petrol and diesel to leccy.  As for those redundancy notices that taxi drivers, white van men and truckers will inevitably receive when salary-shredding autonomous vehicles finally hit the streets – they also remain several years away, so no need to lose sleep over this particular job-destroying revolution just yet, eh?

Best electric cars to buy

Truth is, the fastest-growing concern for most drivers is the rising cost of daily driving. That’s not just my opinion. It’s confirmed by the just-published RAC Report on Motoring 2019. The ‘What are drivers most concerned about?’ chapter shows they are increasingly troubled by car-related inflation. And while the RAC highlights the usual suspects – parking, fuel and insurance – it doesn’t touch on other crucially important areas. You know, things like current and future tolls, congestion/emission taxes, major fines for minor misdemeanours, and disgracefully high workshop labour rates of £200 an hour at some greedy franchised dealerships.

Neither does the RAC discuss the rising prices of everyday motors. Even modest medium-sized petrol or diesel family cars are becoming harder to find below £20,000. And think nearer £30k (ouch!) for similarly sized versions with 100 per cent electric power. Don’t beat yourself up about all this. Owning or using a motor car is thankfully still for the overwhelming majority, not just the privileged, fabulously wealthy minority. 

That said, the biggest, most painful killers for motorists according to the RAC report are (in alphabetical order) depreciation, finance, fuel, insurance, maintenance/servicing and, more recently, parking fees/fines, plus road/bridge/city fees-cum-punitive taxes. 

But honestly, each of the above areas of motoring expenditure can be greatly reduced or, in the case of the most expensive parking bays and direct road user fees, almost eliminated altogether, by boldly boycotting them before opting for the alternatives. As for traditional and unavoidable costs, concentrate on and do something about the big ones. Keep reminding yourself that the only interest rate to aim for is zero per cent APR; steer clear of new cars that have a reputation for depreciating quickly; and never buy a vehicle until you know what insurance group it comfortably or uncomfortably sits in.

Remember: the near £5,000 that the owner of a new or newish Rolls-Royce Phantom might blow each month on depreciation is roughly what you, dear reader, need to pay – all-in – each year on purchase cost, finance, insurance, fuel, other running costs, parking and depreciation to invest in a decent, if modest, new or newish small to mid-size car. Now that’s what I call a bargain. 

What is your biggest motoring concern? Let us know in the comments below...

Chief columnist

Mike was one of the founding fathers of Auto Express in 1988. He's been motoring editor on four tabloid newspapers - London Evening News, The Sun, News of the World & Daily Mirror. He was also a weekly columnist on the Daily Telegraph, The Independent and The Sunday Times. 

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