Hawaii auto report ranking reaps rankles
Hawaii is the most expensive state in which to own a vehicle, according to Edmunds.com
, an automotive information Web site.
The study is flawed, local experts say.
"Hawaii is so unique, when you try to blend it in to a national study and just use averages, unless you use actual Hawaii figures, you'll get a flawed picture," said Dave Rolf, executive director of the Hawaii Automobile Dealers Association.
Edmunds assumes average annual driving of 15,000 miles, but Hawaii drivers average 10,000 miles a year, Rolf said.
Hawaii expenses topped only two of Edmunds' categories, depreciation and fuel costs, but the Aloha State still tops its service-marked "Total True Cost to Own" figures, at $59,457.
Even though Hawaii fuel costs were the highest, Michelle Krebs, editor of Edmunds' AutoObserver.com said, "fuel costs did not play a major role in the results of this study."
According to Edmunds, the average household's annual gasoline expense is just over $2,500 per car, "and even a difference of a quarter per gallon simply does not add up to a tremendous amount of money over the course of a year," she said.
Hawaii's $939 repair cost average is well below the high of $1,120 in California, though Rolf figures pothole damage adds significantly to our tally, "largely because surveys show we have some of the roughest roads" in America.
He knows of a person whose car suffered four blown tires in one year due to potholes, which cost $1,000 to repair.
Hawaii also has "the highest percentage of car-poolers in America and I think that's a statement that needs to be wrapped in." On Oahu, 20 percent of commuters carpool, so "vehicle costs are somewhat shared as are gasoline costs," he said.
The study shows that "the cost of auto insurance is the biggest differentiator between states," said Edmunds' Krebs.
Hawaii's auto insurance premiums were once the second-highest in the nation but we are now at No. 22, said state Insurance Commissioner J.P. Schmidt.
"I don't know where they get their figures." His are from an annual survey of state insurance commissioners.
Hawaii relaxed mandated types of coverage in the mid-1990s and with "other significant reforms ... Hawaii had the biggest drop in (auto) insurance premiums of any state from 1997 to 2003."
We have also seen premium reductions "between 8 and 15 percent over the past six months or so," Schmidt said.
Schmidt cited insurer competition as well as "a reduction in costs related to auto insurance claims, either because people are driving safer or a reduction in some of the costs that insurance companies have to pay out."
Pricing the ride
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|48. South Carolina
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is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: email@example.com