Is an EV Worth the Up-Front Cost? New Tool Helps Find the Answers
A new web-based tool dubbed EV Explorer can help take the uncertainty out of buying a plug-in electric vehicle, says its developer, the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis.
EV Explorer is a website that allows prospective buyers to see how a PHEV might fit into their lives, and how different vehicles stack up against each other.
“EV Explorer helps answer the question: ‘Which car makes sense for me?’” lead researcher Michael Nicholas of the PH&EV Research Center says in an ITS Davis release.
Draws on Existing Data
EV Explorer uses a U.S. Department of Energy database (fueleconomy.gov) of more than 34,000 vehicles, in conjunction with Google Maps, to allow users to compare commuting costs of a PHEV with those of any other vehicle. Users select a start location, and a destination, and specify how often they travel between them. EV Explorer then produces a chart that shows the annual gasoline and electricity fuel costs of the commute.
“For consumers, deciding which car makes sense can be challenging – everyone’s driving needs vary and vehicles perform in different ways,” Nicholas says. “With plug-in hybrids, for example, two fuels – electricity and gasoline – power the car, and different plug-in hybrid vehicle designs require different charging and gasoline-fueling solutions.”
EV Explorer website users can compare frequency of travel, estimated miles per gallon, the price of gasoline and electricity, and other variables, creating side-by-side comparisons of up to four vehicles.
‘EV Explorer Lets People Do Their Own Investigation’
Future versions of the website aim to calculate not only the personal costs of commuting in a PEV, but the lifetime costs of ownership by factoring in retail prices and insurance rates, and by accumulating trips and different routes.
The EV Explorer project was conceived as a UC Davis project to provide EV charger planning support for MPOs, or metropolitan planning organizations.
“After ITS-Davis conducted interviews with MPO representatives,” the organization says, “it became clear that MPOs desired not only tools to plan PEV infrastructure, but also tools that their constituents could use, directly.”
The EV Explorer project is funded by the California Energy Commission in association with the California Center for Sustainable Communities. It represents a first foray by ITS-Davis into consumer-oriented tools.
“For years we’ve been known for our independent academic research,” said Nicholas. “Now, EV Explorer lets people do their own investigation. We’re excited to see where it goes and hope it will further acquaint everyone with the innovative work we’re doing.”
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Source: ITS-Davis with Fleets & Fuels follow-up