How much do Australians spend on new cars?

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Looking to drive a hard bargain on a new set of wheels? Of course you are! But first, it’s important to know how much a new car really costs – and how much others before you have paid. Why? Because knowing ‘your price’ will not only help you narrow down your search on the car model you can afford without stretching your budget, but also give you the confidence and facts you need to drive away with a great deal.

That’s why we’ve compiled this guide on average new car costs in Australia. We’ve included average car costs by state, brand, model, fuel type, household income, and age group; plus listed some car running costs to also factor in.

What is the average price of a new car in Australia?

Aussies spend an average of $40,128 on new cars, according to Canstar Blue’s latest survey of new car owners. The average amount spent on small cars is only $27,092, while new sedans bring an average spend $37,846 and SUVs $41,697.

It’s worth remembering a new vehicle is a long-term investment. Our survey found Aussies typically hold onto their cars for about six years before upgrading or switching models. Overall, the average cost of a new car will depend on a number of factors, including (but not limited to):

  • state taxes & fees (i.e. stamp duty, registration fees, etc.)
  • your financing structure and initial deposit
  • your specific car model and brand
  • which dealership you go to

What is the average new car cost by state?

This table shows the average new car cost across Australian states (excluding Northern Territory), based on a Canstar Blue survey of more than 2,600 new car owners.

State Average car cost
South Australia $36,647
Western Australia $38,519
New South Wales $38,665
Victoria $41,327
Queensland $42,266
Tasmania $47,635

Source: Canstar Blue research, November 2020.

Motorists in South Australia generally spend the least on new cars at $36,647, our research shows. On the other hand, Aussies in Tasmania spend the most on average, to the tune of $47,635. So, why do prices vary so much by state? That’s because overall car prices depend on a variety of factors including stamp duty, transfer fees, Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance, registration fees (levied by states and territories) as well as dealer delivery fees, RRP pricing structure across manufacturers, and so on.

But it’s not all just about the actual cost of buying a car, it’s also about the personal preference – and budget – of those buying the new car. With average earnings varying across the states, you would expect the level of disposable income to also have an impact on how much people are willing to spend on a new set of wheels.

Average car cost in South Australia

South Australians spend the least on new cars, according to our latest survey. Motorists in ‘Wine Country’ spend on average $36,647 on their new whip. The latest Australian Automobile Association (AAA) Transport Affordability Index also reveals that registration and CTP insurance costs were cheaper in SA regional areas due to lower CTP premiums.

Average car cost in Western Australia

Motorists in Western Australia spend an average of $38,519 on their new wheels. According to the AAA, regional drivers in WA pay the same state levies as city drivers, meaning that those in Perth and Bunbury, for example, would pay the same for CTP premiums and rego fees.

Average car cost by state (NSW)

Average car cost in New South Wales

Aussies in New South Wales fork out on average $38,665 for a new car, according to our latest survey. City drivers in NSW typically pay less for registration as a result of the Toll Relief Scheme. This provides free vehicle registration for drivers who’ve spent $1,352 or more on tolls in the previous financial year (an average of $26 a week). This is linked to individual toll accounts such as Linkt, E-way or E-Toll.

Average car cost in Victoria

Victorians spend on average $41,327 on new vehicles. In Victoria, registration and CTP costs are cheaper in regional areas than metropolitan areas. This means Melbourne drivers would typically pay more in CTP premiums, than those in Geelong for example. This adds to the bottom line of a new car purchase.

Average car price by state (QLD)

Average car cost in Queensland

The price of a new car in the Sunshine State is on average $42,266, according to our latest survey. In Queensland, drivers pay the same state levies no matter the location, which means drivers in Brisbane would pay the same CTP premiums and rego fees as motorists in Townsville for example.

Average car cost in Tasmania

Tasmania is the most expensive place to buy a new car in Australia, with motorists spending on average $47,635 on a new whip. Regional and metropolitan drivers in Tassie also pay the same state taxes (registration fees, CTP insurance, etc.) regardless of their location. Tasmania also has one of the highest ongoing roadside assistance costs of $114 per year on average, according to the AAA.

What is the average new car cost by brand?

This table displays the average new car cost by brand, based on a Canstar Blue survey of more than 2,600 new car owners. Keep in mind, these figures reflect the amount Aussie motorists reported paying for their new car, rather than the listed price.

Car brand Average car cost
Suzuki $19,032
Hyundai $27,881
Honda $28,971
Kia $29,176
Mazda $32,681
Nissan $34,175
Subaru $35,573
Holden $36,642
Mitsubishi $37,607
Toyota $39,187
Volkswagen $36,999
Ford $41,337
BMW $67,484
Mercedes $80,042
Audi $80,975

Source: Canstar Blue research, November 2020.

Expectedly, a new whip from a premium car manufacturer such as Mercedes or BMW costs substantially more than a model from say Honda or Mazda. So, what’s the average price difference between the cheapest and most expensive car brands? Our survey found the difference between the cheapest car brand – Suzuki − and the most expensive – Audi – is upwards of $60,000! That’s a big chunk of change.

Average new car cost by car model

What is the average new car cost by car type?

This table shows average new car costs by model type, based on a Canstar Blue survey of more than 2,600 new car owners.

Car type Average car cost
Small car (incl. hatchback) $27,092
Sedan $37,846
SUV $41,697
Utility truck/ute $50,523
4WD $60,376
Sports car (i.e. coupe) $92,099

Source: Canstar Blue research, November 2020.

As well as being easier to drive, park and generally more fuel-efficient, small cars are also the cheapest to buy upfront, followed by sedans and SUVs. Sports cars, 4WDs and utility trucks are more expensive to purchase, due to their larger size and any off-road capabilities, but also because they tend to pack more features and machinery than small cars.

Our latest survey found that 38% of Aussies who bought a new car in the last three years opted for an SUV, while 24% picked up a small car and 22% a sedan. Only 5% of survey respondents bought a ute or sports car.

What is the average new car cost by fuel type?

This table displays the average new car cost by fuel type, based on a Canstar Blue survey of more than 2,600 new car owners.

Car fuel type Average car cost
Electric $36,032
Petrol $36,611
Diesel $56,390

Source: Canstar Blue research, November 2020.

Our latest survey indicates electric cars are now on average slightly cheaper to buy than petrol or diesel cars, although only about 2% of Australians bought a new electric car over the last three years, according to our results. The average price difference between an electric and diesel model is in the ballpark of $20,000, so sparking up a change in fuel types could save you big bucks. Not only that, but electric and hybrid vehicles also reduce air and noise pollution, and are cheaper to run and own, mainly because:

  1. electricity costs less than petrol/diesel
  2. electric cars require less maintenance

What is the average new car cost by household income?

This table shows the average new car cost by household income, based on a Canstar Blue survey of more than 2,600 new car owners.

Household income Average car cost
Less than $30,000 $31,681
$30,000 to $49,999 $30,552
$50,000 to $79,999 $34,799
$80,000 to $119,999 $41,669
More than $120,000 $47,205

Source: Canstar Blue research, November 2020.

Naturally, top-earning households will spend more on a new car – a further $15,000 roughly than low-income earning households.

What is the average new car cost by age group?

This table displays the average new car cost by age group, based on a Canstar Blue survey of more than 2,600 new car owners.

Age group Average car cost
18 to 29 years $38,422
30 to 39 years $40,984
40 to 49 years $44,438
50 to 59 years $39,005
60 to 69 years $39,621
70 years and over $36,216

Source: Canstar Blue research, November 2020.

People aged under 30 and senior Australians (over 70 years of age) spend less on new cars than their middle-aged counterparts. Aussies aged 40 to 49 are the cohort that typically spends the bigger bucks on new vehicles – between $6,000 to $8,000 more on average than Millennials and older Australians, according to our survey results.

What is a good price to pay for a car?

What is a good price to pay for a car?

The general rule is that you shouldn’t spend more than 50% (maximum) of your annual income on a new whip. How much you’re willing to pay for a new car will be influenced by financial and lifestyle factors such as your household income, how many dependents you have, where you live in Australia, if you’ll use your car for personal or commercial use and so on.

How much does it cost to run a car?

The purchase price of a new car is only about half of the equation. Don’t forget there are also running and maintenance costs you’ll need to fork out to keep the wheels spinning. Here are the main ones to consider:

Car running costs

  • Fuel: Petrol is one of the biggest car running expenses. The latest AAA Transport Affordability Index report found the average two-car Australian household pays about $77 a week in fuel. This equates to $308 a month or $3,696 per year.
  • Car loan repayments: Car loan repayments are the biggest expense of car ownership (that is if you’ve taken out a loan to buy your vehicle). The latest AAA figures show the average Aussie household spends about $130 a week on car loan repayments. This works out to be about $520 a month or $6,240 a year.
  • Car insurance: Having comprehensive car insurance is important to protect your wheels, yourself and others from unforeseen events on the road. According to the AAA, the average Aussie household spends up to $100 a month or up to $1,000 a year on comprehensive car insurance. The overall cost of your car insurance premiums will be determined by factors such as your car model, your age, driving history, your suburb, etc.
  • Car tyres: Car tyres wear and tear overtime. It’s typically recommended to repair or replace your tyres every 70,000km. Your tyres’ tread depth must be at least 1.6mm deep to be roadworthy in Australia. Aussies spend on average $270 on new car tyres, according to a recent Canstar Blue survey of car owners.
  • Car servicing and maintenance: Your car will also require servicing and maintenance according to the manufacturer’s schedule. This will ensure your ride keeps running efficiently and safely throughout its lifespan. Many car manufacturers offer capped price servicing to new car owners. This is a fixed or capped price on certain servicing requirements such as oil and fluid checks, etc.
  • CTP and car registration: CTP insurance and car registration are compulsory everywhere in Australia. In most states, CTP is included in the cost of your registration, except in NSW where you will have to purchase it separately before renewing your registration. CTP and car rego can cost anywhere between $500 and $1,500 a year, depending on the size of your vehicle, the state you live in and your subsidy eligibility.

What is car depreciation?

Cars are depreciating assets, unlike houses or shares which tend to go up in value overtime. Car depreciation refers to the decrease in value of your car overtime. It’s simply the difference in worth between when you buy it and the point at which you want to sell it. Depending on the make and model, a new car can lose anywhere between 10% – 15% of its value when you drive out of the dealership and then a further 5% – 10% every year you own it. This is an important factor to consider when buying a new car.

Compare New Cars

Picture credits: My Ocean Production, Shutterstock.com/Africa Studio, Shutterstock.com/ESB Professional, Shutterstock.com/Wellnhofer Designs, Shutterstock.com/NDAB Creativity, Shutterstock.com.

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