WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) launched a new vehicle cost calculator on its website and a related widget. The tool allows users to compare emissions and the lifetime operating costs of different conventional vehicles and those running on alternative fuels and powertrains.

The calculator allows users to enter information about vehicles they can select from a dropdown menu, for example make, model, and year. A user can also enter information for a “custom vehicle,” where they can input their own vehicle data, and compare that with either other existing vehicles or custom vehicles.

To generate a report, the calculator also asks a user to input information about how often the vehicle is driven, for example the number of days driven each week, the average distance drive per trip, and the percent of on-highway vs. city driving.

The report generated by the calculator will give a user the cost-per-mile for operating the vehicle, annual fuel used, annual electricity used (for EVs), a combined annual cost for using electricity and fuel (for plug-in hybrids, for example), and annual CO2 emissions. For fuel costs, a user can enter any fuel price they want, though the calculator automatically pulls the national average price of gasoline available.

The report also shows a graph that charts the annual cost of ownership by year. The cost includes fuel, tires, maintenance, registration, license fees, insurance, and a loan payment. The calculator assumes a five-year loan with a 10-percent down payment. The first year on the graph represents the 10-percent down payment plus the first year's total operating costs.

You can test out the calculator via the following widget:

You can check out the Web version of the calculator here.

By Greg Basich