The Peugeot 2008 is Portugal's best selling car
The Peugeot 2008 is Portugal's best selling car

Cost of car ownership: the facts

The real cost of car ownership tells a story of a country that is more about appearances than reality. Sadly, or not, we live in it.

I have come across a very interesting piece of news this week that I thought it made sense to explore. A study conducted by FINN, a subscription-based car ownership experience that seeks to revolutionise the way we approach our daily cars. It was launched in Germany in 2019 but is already present in the US as well, meaning two very different markets with two very different views of what a car is and what it means.

Anyway, FINN set about investigating the global cost of car ownership in each country. Not just the cost of the car, but the cost of the car when in context with the specifics of each country.

It was obviously impossible to enter every car and every model in the equation, so FINN turned to AMENA, the Independent Automotive Association in the MENA region for raw data, beginning with what are the most popular cars in each OECD country. They then gave each country a normalised score out of 10 for each comprising factor, before taking an average across each of those scores – to come up with a final number out of 10.

Some numbers are easier to get than the final one of global cost of ownership, of course: car price as a percentage of annual income is a division between the price of the most popular car in each country divided by the average wage, according to the OECD. Fuel price as % of monthly income is the combined average price of petrol and diesel in each country (source:, divided by the average monthly income, according to the OECD.

A final note before we dig into the results to say FINN indicated currencies were converted on 28/11/2022 using Google Finance. I am quoting FINN in italic on their findings.



  1. Mexico | Car Cost Score: 9.70/10

Taking the top spot as the least affordable country is Mexico, with the North American nation scoring 9.70 out of 10. The country takes the top spot thanks to its high fuel costs, ranking first for the factor and it has the third highest cost of its most popular car, the Nissan Versa, compared to the average income too.

  1. Estonia | Car Cost Score: 8.79/10

Up next is Estonia, with the Baltic nation scoring 8.79 out of 10. The country ranks in the top ten for both the price of its most popular car, the Toyota RAV4 and its fuel price proportional to the average wage. However, Estonia earns its place as the second least affordable country for car ownership thanks to its car price as a proportion of its average income, taking the top spot for the factor.  

  1. Latvia | Car Cost Score: 8.64/10

Taking third place is the eastern European country Latvia. The country ranks in the top five for its car price as a proportion of annual income and the top ten for its proportional fuel prices too, giving it a score of 8.64 out of 10. 


  1. Luxembourg | 0.46/10

The tiny European country Luxembourg is the most affordable place overall to buy and operate its most popular car, the Volkswagen Golf, scoring just 0.46 out of 10. Luxembourg takes first place thanks to its high average wage pushing down the proportion of income needed to buy its most popular car, ranking third for the factor and it shares the top spot for fuel price as a proportion of income too.

  1. United States of America | 0.91/10

The United States scores just 0.91 out of 10 making it the second most affordable country to own and operate its favorite vehicle, the Ford F-150. The US ranks high thanks to its very low proportional fuel prices, sharing the top spot for the factor. It also places in the top ten for car prices as a proportion of annual income.

  1. Australia | 1.97/10

Australia takes third place as the most affordable country for owning and running a car. Thanks to its relatively cheap fuel prices proportional to income, it shares second place for the factor, and its car price as a proportion of average salary ranks just outside of the top five too.


So, what about Portugal? – I hear you ask. Well, we are 4th in the LEAST affordable list of course. Just one step from the podium with a score of 8.19/10. Portugal is also the 9th country in the world with the most expensive cars (Estonia, Israel and Mexico sit atop this list, with Japan, France and Luxembourg leading the opposite one).

But the ‘good’ news continues. We have the 5th highest cost of fuel – a list once again topped by Mexico, with Slovakia and Greece coming up next. As for the lowest cost, four countries are tied in nr.1: Iceland, Luxembourg, Switzerland and the USA.

It makes for pretty interesting reading and if you want to know more head to, as this page is too small to talk about all the findings FINN has made.

What it shows without a doubt is that we better enjoy the sun, the sea and the excellent food, because we are a car-hating country and that is not an opinion – the facts are clear for all to see.

For such a poor nation – and yes, we are much poorer than we actually look to our neighbours – we should demand much lower taxes. In cars and in pretty much everything else. But we don’t – quite curiously I may add. We just let sleeping dogs lie and carry on being poor.

After all, we are the only country that ended a dictatorship bearing flowers instead of guns. It’s just I don’t think flowers can cut it anymore.

Guilherme Marques

Motoring Trade | Business, Services, Marketplace – click here