Car Ownership vs Car Sharing: How Much Do You Save?

car sharing vs car ownership: how much can you actually save?

“…but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

Benjamin Franklin

With the recent implementation of zero-rated GST by the Ministry of Finance of Malaysia, many celebrated on 1 June 2018 to enjoy this tax holiday on items ranging from food to appliances. We have also observed car manufacturers announcing promotional efforts in hopes to get Malaysians to purchased more of one of the most underutilised asset – cars! However, even with the recent drop in prices, does it make sense for us to go out there and purchase a car today? Let’s find out!

What You Should Know About Buying a New Car?

With the ease and status that comes from owning a car, we understand why drivers in Malaysia would not mind being tied down for five to nine years on a car loan and forking up a few months worth of salary just for the down payment. Some may assume that if a car price sticker is valued at RM72,000, it will be the only value that they need to pay.

So, what did we do? We did the legwork by calculating how much you will be paying when purchasing a new car in Malaysia, and even comparing it with someone who is a true Multi-flexer. As part of our analysis, we have benchmarked maintenance costs, insurance and road tax charges and even second-hand car prices to get you the inside scoop on the true cost of car ownership.

What is multi-flex you ask? Multi-flex means having multiple options to get from point A to point B at the flexibility of when you need it.

Now, let’s get down to the details…

Amount of Interest Over 9 Years After Buying a Car

So, you have done your research and you are looking out to buy a car. Sadly, the car sticker price isn’t what you’ll be paying throughout the 9 years (unless you have too much cash on hand). There is more than meets the eye. In normal cases, you would need to take up a car loan which you need to fork out the 10% down payment. You will be paying the remaining 90% of the car’s value in monthly installments.

Cumulative Interest

If you’re not a huge fan of math, well, get ready to be schooled with this simple explanation below.

Let’s take the Honda City as an example and let’s just say the price on the road is about RM72,000. Your 10% down payment that you need to cough up is RM7,200. Assuming you took a 9-year car loan that’s 9 x 12 = 108 months, your annual interest rate is 3%, your monthly instalment would be RM762. (Tip: annual interest rate varies as well depending on your car make and your credit score). If you have a bad credit score, you may need to pay up to 30% – 50% more interest with an interest rate of 4% or more.

So, it’s always good to start building a good financial history in order to improve your credit score. So, this is your grand total you will need to pay for just the car, RM64,800 + RM7,200 (10% down payment) + RM17,496 (cumulative interest)  = RM89,496 is your grand total. Did you see how RM72,000 magically became RM89,496? Actually, it’s simple math, not magic. (don’t fall for the rebates or into a dark pit of debt!). That is an extra RM17,496 only from cumulative interest! With this extra cash, did you know you could actually buy 84 one-way flight tickets to Bangkok?

Car Insurance Cost & Road Tax

Let’s now dive into the most important part – car insurance cost and road tax. Purchasing car insurance isn’t as simple as you thought it would be because your car’s cubic capacity (CC) affects the rates of your car insurance premiums.

A brand new Honda City would have an annual insurance cost of RM 2,200.00. The good news is that your car insurance premium gets cheaper as your car depreciates with each passing year and the onset of No Claim Bonus (NCB), which could reduce our annual premium by up to 55%. Here is a table that shows you the total discount you’re entitled to over 5 years and up.

Insurance Coverage Duration Discount (%)
First Year 25
2nd Year 30
3rd Year 38.33
4th Year 45
5th Year 55

Even if The Force saves you from 9 years of accident-free days, you will still need to pay RM2,200 x 9 = RM19,800 on your car insurance and for a 1500cc Honda City at RM90 x 9 = RM810 for your road tax which both adds up to a total RM20,610 over a 9-year period.

Car Maintenance Cost

Car Maintenance costs can range from RM90 – RM150 (cost of engine oil + oil filter + air filter + cost of labour) per oil change every 3 months or 5,000 km (whichever comes first) depending on your preferred service centre.

Let’s also take into account of your driving behaviour which will affect and add on the cost for replacing bigger parts such as tyres, batteries, timing belts, air conditioning service, alternators, spark plugs, shock absorbers, and the total costs would average out to a few thousand ringgit over 9 years. Without good tyre maintenance and timely engine oil replacement, you would be neglecting your car’s health status. So, a well-maintained car will somewhat help in lowering the cost of upkeep. Back to making an assumption that your average spends for maintaining a Honda City over the span of 9 years would be RM10,000.

Additional Cost of Buying a Car

Let’s do a summary of what we have so far. We have the cost of cumulative interest, car insurance, road tax and maintenance over the span of 9 years. The additional cost would amount to RM17,496 (interest) + RM19,800(car insurance) + RM20,610 (road tax) + RM10,000 (maintenance) = RM67,906 more than the sticker price. This is only based on a household who only has 1 car if your household has 3 cars, it will definitely exceed over RM100,000.

Unpredictable Cost

You will need to take into account of an unpredictable cost that our standard insurance policies do not cover as it is beyond your control, such as a flash flood, hail storms, or when an elephant decides to trip over your car. The total additional cost is based on an assumption that you have been accident-free for 9 years.

Time for some Road Facts!

According to MIROS’s report on General Road Accident Data in Malaysia (1997 – 2016), the index per billion vehicle kilometre traveled (VKT) is on a gradual decline since 1997 as shown on the table below. Road crashes and deaths have increased in 2016, even when you’re super careful on the road, unfortunately, you can’t clone someone’s driving behaviour to be as cautious as yours.

So, what the heck is VKT?

Vehicle kilometre traveler is known as a measure of traffic flow by multiplying the number of cars on the road or traffic network by the average length of their trips measured in kilometres. Based on Per vehicle kilometre traveled basis, Malaysia has one of the highest incidents of accidents hence personal repair costs might be high if you are one of the unlucky ones…

Source: MIROS

Hang on… What’s the comparison for someone who is a multi-flexer?

If you’re a multi-flexer like us, who uses multiple options to travel from point a to point b at the flexibility of your own time and need. Well, mi amigo, all we can say is you’re saving a lot!

How Much Do You Save By Sharing a Car Instead?

Straits Times report says that Malaysians spend an average of 53 minutes stuck in traffic every day and the average time per booking a SOCAR makes is 8 hours. So that would be RM14.90/hour x 8 hours x 4 days = RM476.80 + Ride-sharing (RM100) + Public Transportation (RM70) = RM646.80/month

Did you know getting caught in traffic congestions alone would cost you RM3,100? All the things that are burning while you’re stuck in traffic, depreciation cost of your car, petrol, tyres, engine and a hole in your pocket.

Based on projection, mobility demand by Malaysians would reach 72 million trips per day by 2020 and the majority of these trips would be generated in urban areas, said Group Chairman of PNB, Datuk Seri Wahid Abdul Omar. (source:

Multi-flex Price: RM646.80/month

Owning a Car: RM762/monthly installments + RM250 petrol + RM184 (car insurance) + RM90 (road tax) = RM1,286/month

Time to drop the debt burden and learn ways to find freedom from debt!

Choice, affordable convenience and flexibility are luxuries that now multi-flexers can enjoy with new innovations in shared mobility. So why not join the car-sharing movement with us today?

Q&A time with SOCAR Malaysia’s CEO, Leon Foong.

Q: What is the breakeven number of hours before it makes sense to own a car?

A: If you take out a 7-year loan on a Honda City, you are paying approximately RM 933 a month in installments and also an RM7.2k downpayment.  Honestly, if you drive less than 21 hours a week or 500 km a week, it makes a lot more financial sense to use car-sharing instead. 20 hour per week on a SOCAR (assuming you drive a City at RM15 per hour will only cost you RM300 a week or RM1.2k a month insurance, petrol, maintenance all included.

Q: Per km cost of travel for mid-distance trips (say to Putrajaya and back, to Kajang and back, to Shah Alam and back for a meeting)

A: For example, so if we were to take a drive from Bangsar to Putrajaya (that’s 41 km drive) for a 1.5-hour meeting, booking a SOCAR for 4 hours will give you 120 km worth of petrol for a price of just under RM60 for those 4 hours. E-hailing your way to Putrajaya and back will set you back almost RM120 for a return trip for an 82 km journey. In this case, SOCAR gets you to your meeting and back for a per kilometer cost of RM14.90*4/82 = RM0.73 vs. e-hailing which will get you there for a cost of RM1.46/km.

Q: What is your advice on buying a car, for Malaysians this Raya season?

A: My one true Raya car savings tips would be – don’t blow all your money on a new car before Raya… try out the different cars first before deciding.

Secret tip: Instead of rushing to buy a car from a dealer, why not try out your favorite SOCAR model on our platform before purchasing. The handling fee on a hire purchase alone is RM600 (paid to the dealer). With this, you could try the MINI, Polo and HR-V each for a day each and still spend less than RM300 all with petrol and insurance included.

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