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Summary:

Would you save money on your commute if you bought an electric car? Here’s a handy dandy Facebook app that will help you figure it all out:

CommutingCalculator2

There’s finally a bit more transparency into the miles per gallon equivalent of the first mainstream electric vehicles on the roads (the Nissan LEAF and GM’s Volt) now that the EPA has officially rated the MPG of these cars in recent weeks. But the next step is for potential buyers to figure out if they’d actually save money on the fuel costs of EVs for their personal commutes. Now you can do that with a simple calculation via a new Facebook app.

The folks behind the Cost to Drive (C2G) website, which calculates how much it would cost you in gas to drive a certain distance, have launched the Facebook application the Commuting Calculator. The calculator prompts the user to enter information about their daily commute, the model/make of their current internal combustion car, and the days per week that they drive to work. With one click, users can see how much they’d save in daily, weekly, and yearly fuel costs versus using electricity and an EV.

I don’t own a car, but if I did my commute would cost about $0.50 each way, based on the current gas prices in San Francisco, according to the app (yeah, short commute). In comparison the app found that my commute would costs $0.14 each way when using an electric vehicle, determining that I would save $15.20 a month, and close to $200 per year. While that’s a nice perk, considering electric cars are commonly thousands of dollars more expensive than their internal combustion cousins right now, if I just considered economics, an EV wouldn’t win out for my commute.

The President and co-founder of C2G, Jim Kovarik, tells me that the gas calculation automatically finds the gas prices near your home address from 80,000 gas stations across the U.S. The electricity figure used for the calculation is the one that the EPA used for its MPG calculation, or approximately $.04/mile. While that’s a decent indicator, electricity prices can actually vary greatly between states, and Kovarik says that they plan to also “localize” this electricity information.

While most early adopters are buying electric cars right now more for their cool-factor (if you can get one in stock), down the road more mainstream car drivers will ultimately be interested in saving money. Handy dandy tools like the Commuting Calculator could help bring more transparency to whether EVs will equal savings for your driving habits. Tell us what you think of the app.

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  1. TCO for electric cars are not yet within parity of ICE counterparts. Electric motorcycles are already there. Consider the numbers, another calculator: http://www.empulsebuyer.com/tcoCalculator.php

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  2. Here’s a non-facebook app which allows more parameters:

    http://www.ccds.charlotte.nc.us/~jarrett/EV/cost.php

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  3. Thanks guys for these tools! Good stuff.

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  4. @Jeremy – that’s a pretty slick application. Nicely done. We get a great deal of requests from our users to add motorcycles (and RVs) to Cost2Drive.com – something we’re definitely going to look into.

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  5. OK – I have to rush the kids to school so I will try the app later (currently using biodiesel)…I totally support this app, especially on FB…but if it doesn’t take into account the savings on low, low maintenance or the savings on GHG emissions…the 2nd long life of the battery packs and their recycle – ability…then the whole story isn’t there. Not to mention to boost to the American economy if we can beat everyone else on manufacturing.

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  6. @dos – Thanks for the feedback, and you’re not the first to suggest including maintenance costs in the calculation (some arguing EVs will cost more, some arguing they’ll cost less) and so its definitely on our short list of future enhancements to the app once more data is available.

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  7. I’d like to see more lawn and landscape companies using electric mowers. Yet don’t be fooled by “clean coal” it a lie.

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  8. I need to check out the app a litte bit more, but from what i noticed it is amazing. I think I will need to think about getting an electrical car somehow :D

    Cheers
    Luke

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