Shopping for cars is exciting, but daunting, especially when trying to calculate cost of ownership. And if you commute to work, you want to know what you'll be spending to get there and back. If you want to compare electric cars to gasoline-powered options, this can all get pretty confusing. Thankfully, UC Davis has launched its online Electric Vehicle Explorer tool to help make driving costs much clearer.

The EV Explorer allows you to compare up to four different cars at once to determine the annual cost of your commute. You can choose old or new cars - EVs, hybrids, the old gas-guzzler you've been driving for the past 13 years - and the tool will grab data directly from Plug in your start point and destination and how often you do the drive, tell the program what kind of charging you'll have access to at your destination, if any, and the EV Explorer will tell you how much you'll spend annually based on the cars you're comparing. It even tells you how much you'll be spending on electricity vs. conventional fuels, and whether the car even has the range to get you to work.

If you want to hone the accuracy of the EV Explorer, you can input your own fuel prices and home electricity rates. For charging at work, the tool allows you to select the type of charger available (Level I or Level II), the amount of time you'll be parked, and the price to charge per hour or per kilowatt-hour. It's also possible to use your own mpg figures if you know you skew in either direction from the EPA ratings.

Read more about the launch of the site in this statement from UC Davis, or head over to the Electric Vehicle Explorer to check it out. While not perfect (you can't easily add side trips; this is purely for your back-and-forth commute), the tool is simple to use, and you might be surprised how much you could save by switching to an EV.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Months Ago
      No Diesel...?? That's a little Biased.. Its not a submodel issue either since they have a Cruze and a Cruze Eco. I would love to see what my Jetta TDI accomplishes on my 35 mile drive. It just seems a little weird Diesel is the only thing missing.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Can't adjust my actual route. It takes the absolute shortest path, but because of real life traffic I take a slightly different path that actually returns better MPG than the shortest way. Still, impressive results. My current car shows $1628 annually, while a Volt would be $328 and a Leaf $281. Even a Jetta Hybrid would be half my current car. And that's assuming no on-site charging at work (which there is currently none). Really wouldn't take all that long to cover the cost difference. Now GSA is looking to get us a new location. My commute could get shorter, or could get longer. If they move us into the downtown Seattle business district, I'll be looking at taking the commuter rail, and my commute will drop to nothing. Need to wait an see what happens there. We are supposed to be in the new location by 2017, but we'll know where it will be some time next year.
      • 8 Months Ago
      nissan and mitsubishi to build a more affordable EV for 2016-2017 for $14000 USD. Hope it is a global car.
      Brett Kling
      • 8 Months Ago
      The URL for the Electric Vehicle Explorer is bad.
      • 8 Months Ago
      It shows the PiP as the cheapest fuel cost for me. Too bad they are not sold anywhere near me. The Leaf and i-MiEV showed up as the second lowest cost, and both are available in my area, but I have not seen an i-MiEV on my local dealer lot. My cost could be lower yet as my utility offers a variable summer rate. After 7pm the cost is about half the national average, which is when I would be charging. I hope to have at least one plug-in early next year, maybe two. Although, the saving is tiny, only $65/yr on my commute over my current car, but it not so much about saving money and more about not buying gas.
      • 8 Months Ago
      I just sent them a message letting them know that the electric efficiency that they're using for the Plug-in Prius is wrong. (They're using 0.29 kwh/mile, based on the EPA rating, but the actual rating is 29 kwh PLUS 0.2 gallons per 100 miles. By not accounting for the gasoline part of the rating, they're giving the PiP a better electric efficiency than it actually deserves.) I also asked them what the "EPA" field in the "Car Manager" section represents, as it's not clear to me. Anyone have any idea?
        • 8 Months Ago
        Nm. They've removed the "EPA" field and replaced it with "MPGe". However, the PiP efficiency thing hasn't been addressed yet.
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