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Weekend Trips: Zipcar vs Car2go vs Used Car

By Isaac Schweigert | August 24, 2015

Last month we published a post comparing Zipcar, Car2go and Car Ownership, in which the car ownership option was a brand new car.

We received some great feedback, and one of the requests was to compare a used car with longer trips. So – here it is.

This time, we’re assuming  you primarily need a car for weekend getaways.  And instead of buying a new car like in our previous post, you bought a pre-owned (gently used) car to skip the hefty depreciation in the first few years

If you choose a model that is known to be very reliable, major repair surprises will be less worrisome.  Consumer Reports is a great source for reliability data, especially their list of the best used cars, which you don’t even need a subscription to access.  The worst used car list is always fun to read.

For basic information on how car sharing works, take a look at our previous post.

Vehicle Assumptions For Cost Comparison

We used a 2011 Honda Civic SE to represent the used car.   It had 56,000 kms on it and cost $15,675 including taxes. Unlike in our previous post, we assumed that financing was not needed.

Maintenance costs are dependent on how much you drive.  If you only drive 50kms per week (2600kms per year), after 5 years you would only have had to do a little bit of maintenance. If you have a longer commute and/or go on a lot of weekend road trips with friends and average 400kms per week, your maintenance costs will be higher.

To estimate the 5 year depreciation cost for the car, we looked at what 2006 Honda Civics were selling for on AutoTrader, based on the mileage of our 2011 Civic after 5 years.

Since the car already had 56,000kms on it, we assumed that the selling dealer had done an oil change before sale, but had not replaced anything else such as brakes or tires.

Here are the assumptions we made to ensure the data was as complete as possible:


civic-2010  car2go  zipcar
Purchased Honda Civic 2011 Car2Go Extra Value Plan $250/Month
Initial Cost: $15,675 Initial Cost: $35 signup fee Initial Cost: $25 signup fee
Insurance & registration: $950

Oil Change: $65.00 per 6000 km

Brake Service: $145 per 60,000 km

Brake Rotors: $220 per 120,000 km

Spark Plug Service: $200 per 168,000 km

Tires: $220 per 50,000 km

Misc: $20.00

Charges: $95.19 per day, $0.45/km if exceeding 200km per day, $1.50/day fee Charges: $84.73/day, $0.30/km if exceeding 200km per day
Fuel Consumption

City: 0.081 L / km

Highway: 0.062 L / km

Total consumption per km: 85% city / 15% highway = 0.078 L / km

Fuel Cost: $1.30 / L

Trips: Weekend trips where 60% are less than 200kms per day and 40% are over 200kms per day Trips: Weekend trips where 60% are less than 200kms per day and 40% are over 200kms per day
Insurance: 27 year old female with $500 deductibles and $1M liability Insurance: $1 drivers protection fee per trip for the first 90 trips per year Insurance: Included

All costs include GST & PST.

For reference, a round trip from Vancouver to Whistler or Harrison Lake is 250kms; Tofino is 450kms plus the ferry.


Cost Comparison

The graph below shows a comparison between used car ownership (Honda Civic) , ZipCar and Car2Go given the assumptions above.


Cost Comparison Results

In our previous post, we looked at short journeys where car sharing was the clear winner.  For longer weekend trips, car ownership is the clear winner

Car2Go is really expensive to use for a weekend and I doubt many people would be too enthusiastic about driving a Smart Car a long distance, especially on the highway.

For ZipCar, if your weekend trips throughout the year average less than 100kms per week (that would be less than 14 weekend getaways), it beats owning a car.  But the more trips you do, and the longer they are, it quickly becomes much more expensive than owning a car.


Extra Resources

Considering a car purchase but aren’t sure how much it’s going to cost? You use CAA’s driving costs calculator to approximate your yearly costs.

Car sharing costs may vary by location and the above calculations were made based on pricing in the Vancouver area.

Visit the Car2Go and ZipCar websites for detailed pricing where you are.


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Isaac Schweigert

Isaac Schweigert

Isaac is a CFA charterholder and is Portfolio Manager and Chief Compliance Officer at ModernAdvisor. He has over 11 years of investment industry experience, including asset allocation, portfolio management, due diligence, compliance and reporting.