Say you're an urbanite who made the decision to leave the perils and unexpected expenses of car ownership begin and rely only on your phone. A money-saving choice? Not necessarily, according to a study the American Automobile Association.

Drawing information from numerous studies, AAA's report looks at the cost of owning a vehicle versus the cost of replacing those same trips with a ride-hailing app and infrequent car rental. It's not even close, but, as the saying goes, your mileage may vary.

The study focused only on urban dwellers, who, according to a previous study, drive an average of 10,841 miles annually. As we're dealing with averages here, the vehicle in question is a medium-sized sedan. Amassing data from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the study found the average cost of ownership for this faceless sedan (including maintenance, fuel, insurance, vehicle payments) amounts to $7,321 a year, or $10,049 after factoring in parking charges.

If those same drivers replaced their total miles driven with ride-hailing apps and a few key rentals, the average annual cost comes to $20,118, or $1.86 per mile - far less than the $0.93 cost of owning a vehicle and paying for parking.



Just to bolster the ride-hailing side of the study, AAA found that the average car-less urbanite in possession of a driver's license makes 2.1 road trips a year, totalling 11 days and 1,476 miles. Naturally, there's a fair bit of variability in what it costs to travel by hailed car in these 20 cities. Total annual cost, including those rentals, amounted to $16,944 in Dallas, whereas Bostonians stand to spend $27,545.

On the car owner's side, just as much variability exists. Some choose to own a large SUV or trucks; others, a Hyundai Accent or Mitsubishi Mirage. Fuel economy spans the gamut, as do miles driven, some vehicles are more reliable than others, and some drivers own their car outright. Average parking costs range from $706 in Phoenix to over eight grand in New York City.

While AAA's study provides an interesting look at averages, what's missing from the data is the option of not driving at all. Many urbanites have access to rapid transit within walking distance from their home or place of work, and this study admittedly doesn't take that into account. Few people living with a subway or commuter train close at hand would take an Uber into work every single morning, as they'd probably get there late.

Transit and cycling, where it's a viable option, easily supplements vehicle trips, lowering overall transportation costs for car owners and abstainers alike. As well, looking just at car owners, how many miles driven are necessary miles? We all take the long way home from time to time, or just go for a drive with no destination in mind. This eats up plenty of miles, but we do it because we can. No one hails a Lyft and tells the driver, "Never mind the route I asked for. Just take me for a ride."

For car owners, buying groceries at the nearest store isn't a necessity. We'll drive past four grocery stores to get to the one we like better - the one with those amazing sales on ground beef. Again, more miles, but not necessary ones.

Everyone weighs their options and ends up making choices that works for their particular situation. But the study offers food for thought for members of the anti-car crowd who live too busy a life to stand on the side of the road, waiting for a bus.

a version of this article first appeared on thetruthaboutcars.com