Monday, February 04, 2013

Cost of petrol to drive a given distance.

The other day I was at Bunnings to buy a curtain wire. I needed a 2m wire. When I went to the local Bunnings they didn’t have the 2m wire in stock which was $3.90, they only had the 5m wire at $6.90. As I went out to the car to drive to the next closest Bunnings I thought, is it better to pay the extra money, or is it better to drive to the next closest Bunnings.

Whilst we could argue all day over the cost of running a car, for me the cost of petrol is the immediate direct cost and all other costs are either fixed costs or variable indirect costs. All the fixed costs and most indirect costs of owning a car are already sunk once you decide to buy a car. So the only easy figure to use is the cost of petrol.

I thought for me having a quick calculator for the cost of petrol usage could come in handy. Paying more for an item in one location rather than paying less in another location which is further away often isn’t intuitive for people, but if people have some facts the decision becomes much easier.

I decided to write the Car Cost Calculator and make it available on the internet.

So should I have paid more or gone to the other Bunnings?

The distance to the other Bunnings was 13km and then 11km home. So the shortest route was around 24km. Using the Car Cost Calculator the cost of petrol is estimated to be $3.73. So forget about wear and tear on the car and the time involved, the cost of petrol alone would have been more than paying for the longer wire. So I went back inside and purchased the longer wire and returned home.

Out of interest I decided to check the cost of driving to the local shopping centre which is roughly a return trip of 7.6km. The petrol cost is $1.18. The cost of zone 2 Myki fare is $2.42. For every additional person who goes to the shops with me the Myki cost increases whereas the petrol cost increase is minimal. By the time I walk to the bus stop I’d already be at the shops. For short distances and trips where there are more than one person the cost of petrol is much less than a Myki fare and far more time efficient.

The Car Cost Calculator isn’t meant to be an fully costed tool but a quick and easy tool for myself and others who wish to check the cost of petrol usage for a given trip.


Kelvin Eldridge
JustLocal – Cost effective advertising for local businesses.

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