The cost of owning a car rose again in 2011, with a typical midsize sedan owner spending 59.6 cents a mile -- or $8,946 a year -- according to an annual survey by AAA. Of course, gas prices powered much of the 1.9 percent increase -- but oil prices hit driver's debit cards from another direction.
While gas prices were up 14 percent on average, tire replacement costs were the second-largest factor in the increase, rising 4.2 percent. There's several reasons: Tires themselves have grown more expensive thanks to the rise in the oil and rubber used to make and ship them. More automakers specify a premium grade of tire as standard equipment on new vehicles, for better fuel economy or ride. And the disrepair of American roads means more flats and punctures to repair.
If there is one bright light in the AAA survey, it's that demand for vehicles has grown so much that depreciation costs slowed 4.9 percent -- even if driving 15,000 miles a year costs more.
Other stories this morning:
Chrysler commits to downtown Detroit office: I've been critical of Chrysler in the past for wrapping itself in "Detroit" without having a greater physical presence in the city. Moving 70 employees downtown and setting up a "satellite" office for the CEO isn't much, but as symbolic moves go, it's a good one for the city and company. (Detroit News)
Hyundai to add third shift, 877 workers to Alabama plant: Speaking of commitments, Hyundai will soon employ 3,000 people in Alabama, building as many Sonatas and Elantras as they can. (Al.com)
GM to chop 100 R&D positions: I'd call this a negative sign. GM can't possibly need less research and development to compete with the rest of the industry. Either it's moving the work to lower-cost locations — like its biggest market, China -- or its cost-cutters have overstepped. (Detroit News)