NYC Maintenance Cost Comparison: Smaller Vehicles Are a Lot Cheaper

Image courtesy of NYC DCAS

New York City’s smaller fleet vehicles are significantly cheaper to maintain than ones even slightly larger, according to new data released by the city’s Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS).

The DCAS looked at five years of servicing data, from 2015 to 2019, for 4,000 vehicles of more than 200 models used by 50 city agencies. Of these, 75% are sedans and SUVs, and most of the rest are pickup trucks and vans. The department broke down the fleet list by vehicle size — small, mid-size, or large.

The department found that for most models, maintenance cost rose significantly as vehicles increased in size. For example, a mid-size car was 41% more expensive to maintain and repair than a small car, while a large car was 142% more expensive. For SUVs, a mid-size vehicle has 25% higher service costs than a small SUV, while large SUVs are 138% more expensive to maintain. Full-size large SUVs cost substantially more than even pickup trucks to maintain, according to the department.

DCAS reported similar results with vans and added that delivery trucks, some of which are diesel, had much higher costs than smaller vans.

The department did not see the same differences with its mini- and full-size pickup trucks, possibly due to the smaller sample size of mini-pickup trucks.

Purchase cost and fuel costs were not included in this study.

While New York City has been focusing on alternative fuels — and released data last year showing the lower maintenance cost of electric vehicles over internal combustion engine vehicles — the DCAS reiterated that right-sizing is also an effective way to reduce fleet costs.

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