U.S. Dept. of Energy seal

Department of Energy (DOE) launches vehicle on-line cost calculator

In tune with the theme of The Battery Show 2011 in Novi, Michigan, the new DOE on-line tool announced today helps consumers and businesses decide which efficient vehicles are right for them.

The latest addition to the Department of Energy (DOE) Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center (AFDC) is the Vehicle Cost Calculator, an easy-to-use tool that allows users to compare emissions and lifetime operating costs of specific vehicle models, including conventional cars and trucks, as well as vehicles running on alternative fuels such as electricity, ethanol, natural gas, or biodiesel.

The official statement per its website states the AFDC helps consumers, fleet managers, and local governments find and compare energy-saving vehicles that can reduce their petroleum consumption. By providing a variety of tools, databases, and informational resources on vehicles powered by alternatives to gasoline and diesel, the AFDC helps users buy the efficient vehicles that are right for them.

For the record, the new calculator was developed by DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Its purpose is to help car shoppers, small business owners, and fleet managers make side-by-side comparisons between thousands of conventional, electric drive, and alternative fuel vehicles from model year 1996 and newer.

My Own Needs

As an owner of two vehicles, I think this will help even my next choice. For example, my wife’s lease on her Chevy Cobalt is coming due soon. So, we plan to use this tool to assess whether we will buy a Chevy Cruze or a Chevy Volt, not mention a few other candidates that shall remain nameless at this point.

Point is, a toll like this needed, especially when considering buying an expensive car like a Volt. Based on our driving habits which have changed significantly since I early retired and my wife runs her dog grooming business out of the home studio. Fact is, we drive far less than in my full-time engineering days and her homecare nursing days.

So, you see, others may have similar changes in life; and the new auto technologies demand some sort of tool to help make an educated and informed decision on what car best fits your lifestyle and pocketbook.

Cost Calculator

The DOE calculator also lets users enter information such as driving habits, local ZIP code, price of fuel, and potential tax credits to personalize their results. The tool then presents a comparison of the selected models, displaying the total lifetime ownership costs of the vehicles and the breakdown of the lifetime operating costs between fuel and maintenance costs.

It also calculates the operational cost per mile and greenhouse gas emissions over time for the vehicles. By helping potential buyers evaluate the long-term costs and benefits of various fuels and vehicle options now on the market, they can choose the vehicles and technologies that best suit their needs.

There is also a widget version of the calculator. It gives other organizations outside DOE an easy way to add a simplified alternative fuel and emissions calculator to their own website, and it links to the full calculator for users interested in a more detailed analysis.

I have submitted this to my editor, Armen Hareyan, for consideration here at Torque News.

In addition to the cost calculator, the AFDC features more than 20 other online tools. For example, the Alternative Fueling Station Locator and its mobile version allow users to search for fuel stations and charge points in a specific region or along a set route. Light and heavy-duty vehicle searches provide information about currently available alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles, from sedans to school buses.

There is even a laws and incentives search feature which provides information on state and federal laws, including tax credits, and allows users to sort by technology, location, type of user, or type of policy.

Final comment: While complaints fill the air about the amount of intrusions that government brings into our lives, this is not one of them. Here is the direct link: http://www.afdc.energy.gov/afdc/vehicles/index.html

About the Reporter: After 39 years in the auto industry as a design engineer, Frank Sherosky now trades stocks, futures and writes articles, books and ebooks like, "Perfecting Corporate Character," "Awaken Your Speculator Mind", and "Millennial World Order" via authorfrank.com. He may be contacted here by email: [email protected] and followed in Twitter under @Authorfranks

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