WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) has launched a new vehicle cost calculator and accompanying widget. These online tools are now available on DOE's Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center (AFDC), currently celebrating its 20th anniversary. 

The AFDC is aimed at helping fleet managers, local governments and consumers find and compare energy-saving vehicles that can reduce their petroleum consumption. There are a variety of tools, databases and informational resources on vehicles powered by alternatives to gasoline and diesel.

The latest addition to the Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center (AFDC) is the vehicle cost calculator, which allows users to compare emissions and lifetime operating costs of specific vehicle models. These models include conventional cars and trucks, as well as vehicles running on alternative fuels such as electricity, ethanol, natural gas or biodiesel. 

With the new calculator, developed by DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), fleet managers and other car shoppers can make side-by-side comparisons between thousands of conventional, electric drive, and alternative fuel vehicles from model year 1996 and newer.

The calculator also lets users enter information such as driving habits, local ZIP code, price of fuel, and potential tax credits to personalize their results. The tool then presents a comparison of the selected models, displaying the total lifetime ownership costs of the vehicles and the breakdown of the lifetime operating costs between fuel and maintenance costs. It also calculates the operational cost per mile and greenhouse gas emissions over time for the vehicles. 

The calculator's widget version gives other organizations outside DOE an easy way to add a simplified alternative fuel and emissions calculator to their own website, and it links to the full calculator for users interested in a more detailed analysis.

In addition to the cost calculator, the AFDC features more than 20 other online tools. The alternative fueling station locator and its mobile version allow users to search for fuel stations and charge points in a specific region or along a set route. Light- and heavy-duty vehicle searches provide information about currently available alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles, from sedans to school buses. The laws and incentives search provides information on state and federal laws, including tax credits, and allows users to sort by technology, location, type of user, or type of policy.