I have been driving since 2006. Yes, it’s been 10 years now. I started driving without a Driving License like everyone, no points for guessing. My first drive was my sister’s Maruti Zen in Hyderabad and the passion for driving escalated within no time. I’ve driven cars from the humble Maruti Zen to Mercedes Benz/Audi and oh yeah, Ferarri included on the list for a few minutes if that counts. I have driven up to a maximum speed of over 180km/hr and pretty proud of it; life threatening as it may but one doesn’t think too much in such situations. I’m a responsible driver now.
Coming to the real question as to why I decided against buying a car is for the fact that I don’t travel much. Here’s some refined reasons that would most likely change your mind:
A humble car today cost about Rs 5,00,000 and after about 5 years, you can sell it off for about Rs 2,00,000. So you actually spend Rs 3,00,000 on your brand new car. Estimating that, you spend Rs 164 per day for 5 years. Go read the next paragraph unless you are interested in the details. The yearly insurance for your car is roughly around Rs. 50,000 for 5 years put together which means you are paying Rs 27 each day. For a daily commute of roughly 30 km in a city with a mileage of 15 kmpl, the daily fuel costs (petrol/diesel or CNG) you spend around Rs 100 and of course, Rs 0 on days you don't drive. Looking at the quality of our Indian roads, one is forced to change the tyres and the battery at least once in 5 years. So, that will cost you around Rs 15,000. Hence you spend Rs. 8 per day. Car owners in India know the fact that automobile dealers give a false fact of "Zero Maintenance Cost" for 3 years or 50,000 km first and one ends up paying about Rs 3000-5000 per year. This is roughly Rs 10 per day. Never buy a car by taking a loan, it is a very expensive affair but if you are a salaried person, how else would you be able to afford a car? The interest for car loans at 9.70% on Rs 5,00,000 is Rs 132 per day. You can perhaps get a better deal but I'm taking this as the current market rate for SBI and calculating it based upon it.
So in total, you are spending a minimum of Rs (164 + 27 + 100 + 8 + 10) = Rs 309 when you are driving. If you aren't driving and have your car park outside, you are still paying Rs 209 per day!
If you take a loan, you are adding an extra Rs 132 and hence you are spending Rs (309 + 132) = 441 on week days and on days when you don't drive, you still pay Rs 341 each day.
PS: I’m considering that you don’t get into any type of accident or get into trouble with traffic laws.
Is taking Ola or Uber a viable option then?
I get them within minutes and they are pretty cheap as compared to other private means of transport. Sure, there’s auto/bus and metro but with these guys, I can travel wherever and whenever I want. Yes, there are frustrating times dealing with the drivers but driving your own car and negotiating with the other drivers on the road is a LOT more frustrating experience.
An American friend once said, “You have to be drunk to drive in India” and I laughed but over the years, I realized how serious and truthful he was. It is a nightmare to drive in India when you compare to driving elsewhere.
Also, parking is a lot of problem in metro cities. One could end up negotiating with your neighbour’s car everyday. As frustrating as dealing with cab drivers!
If you book a cab for a 30 km ride on Uber Go or Ola Micro/Mini, you spend about Rs 350. It gets a bit cheaper if you opt for Uber Pool or Ola Share. Yes, it doesn’t make much difference if you take a cab everyday on these apps as compared to having a private car but personally, I don’t commute as much. I spend just about Rs 500 per week or less since my office is at a walking distance and most times, I work from home.
However, if my office is located 15km away and I have to commute 30km everyday, I would prefer changing my job or move closer to the office than drive in a congested traffic filled roads. Driving is a pleasure when one is driving a luxury car but even then, not so much when it becomes a daily chore.
What about quick weekend getaways or long drives?
In such situations which happen rarely, I like to rent a car from places like Zoomcar or Volar. One can easily book a decent car for Rs 2500/day or a luxury car that cost over Rs 30 lakhs for just about Rs 5000/day. It’s simple and straight forward assuming you don’t get into accidents.
Let me end with this:
If you drive more than 30km per day for whatever reasons or have a family, it makes sense to get your own car. I can’t argue with that. Buying a second hand car also makes a lot of sense in my opinion if you really want a car. You could check out Spinny for certified used cars.
However, with Delhi NCR traffic problems, I wish the government could do more with regards to road conditions and public transports. Pollution is another factor we have to keep in mind. Having said that, there’s so much a government can do unless we do our bit.
If you think owning a car is a social status, you better own a Ferarri.