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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