Calculate The True Cost Of Electric Cars
I met with Jon Lal, BeFrugal’s founder and the person behind the electric car calculator. Finding out if an electric car, EV is right for you is not very easy unless you do the math correctly. BeFrugal has the right tool to get you started, an EV calculator
Hi Jon, I wanted to know what got you started on the idea of an EV calculator?
At BeFrugal.com, our mission is to help people save money and with our online and printable coupons section, weekly ads, and we realized we needed to also offer calculators to help people do the financial analysis for their largest purchases – home, cars, and travel.
The re-introduction of mainstream electric cars got me thinking about the economic value proposition they offer. Coming from a BeFrugal point of view, I wondered about their economic rationale compared to an internal combustion engine, ICE car. This led to building the BeFrugal.com Electric Car Calculator, which aims to help people compare the overall costs of electric cars versus that of hybrids, gas or diesel cars. Since then, we added more calculators to our BeFrugal site.
How do you differentiate between different utilities and their electricity price?
Determining precise electricity costs for every zip code is an enormously daunting task. It is further complicated by the fact that rates vary by hour-of-day usage. We provide a good estimate of electricity costs by analyzing average cost by State and then ask the user to select the State they reside in, while using federal data for average household electricity cost to provide an estimate. We felt this was the best coherent strategy for a potential EV driver.
In order to get an even more precise estimate, individuals can see their actual electricity cost by looking at their current electric bill. They can see how much they are billed per kWh at the time-of-day they would be charging their electric car. By entering that precise amount into our BeFrugal Electric Car Calculator, they will get a very close estimate as to the overall finances for their upcoming EV.
How do you calculate total CO2 emissions per car? Do you take into consideration manufacturing and transportation to the car lot or just the regular operation?
Our total CO2 emissions calculation is based on your driving habits, as well as proportion of city versus highway driving, miles driven per year, the car’s fuel type, i.e. electricity, gas or diesel, and the car’s efficiency in terms of MPG or kWh per mile. We also take into account both tailpipe and upstream CO2 emissions. For those who would like to better understand the calculation, we provide sources and documentation as to the calculations on our site.
Are there more features you are thinking about adding on at a later date?
We are always looking for ways to make our BeFrugal better and add features. At the moment, we are aggressively building out our cash back program, which was launched in the fall of last year. We already offer an average of 5% cash back on over 2000 various merchants.
With the Electric Car Calculator, we look forward to incorporating manufacturing costs into the calculator. And of course, we welcome feedback and suggestions from the TorqueNews audience and that will also shape future features.
Do you see a usage that leans more toward electric cars, or hybrids or just gas cars in general?
So far, the interest level in electric cars is very high, but usage has not caught up yet. Electric cars are early in their development, and are mostly being purchased by early adopters. As with many technological innovations, electric cars may need to go through some improvements before there is a mass adoption.
From a purely financial point of view, currently gasoline or diesel cars are frugal enough for most people. Conventional gas cars generally offer a lower initial purchase price but total operating cost rise through the years, contrary to that of an electric car. EV low operating costs are not sufficiently low enough to offset their higher purchase price.
In the end, the purchase of an electric car is not strictly a financial decision, as potential EV drivers often care about external factors, such as the sourcing of oil, emissions problems and security questions. BeFrugal’s Electric Car Calculator is regularly updated with current variables, such as gas, electricity and car purchase prices, in the hope to help potential car buyers make the right choice for their needs.