Automakers this week are showing off all manner of fuel-efficient concept cars at the Frankfurt auto show in Germany. But, in general, the majority of people are reluctant to pay a big premium for the last green auto technology.
Think tank the Rocky Mountain Institute has launched an online calculator to figure what higher up-front cost brings you in terms of savings and environmental benefits. It's part of the group's Project Get Ready to prepare communities for plug-in electric vehicles.
The price premium of greener cars is an important issue as the auto industry readies many plug-ins designed for everyday use. These first-generation cars, such as the all-electric Nissan Leaf or Chevy Volt, will have a bigger price tag because they will carry a bigger--and pricier--battery than today's hybrids. But owning an electric car "fueled" by electricity is typically going to be cheaper per mile than gasoline.
The calculator is structured so that you can compare the lifetime costs of two cars, giving you the ability to input a number of variables, such as cost of gas, lease versus buy, and how many miles you drive. It lets you take your best guess at gas prices--today it's at $2.61 per gallon--and assumes electricity costs of 9 cents per kilowatt-hour, though these days that price is more like 11 cents per kilowatt-hour, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Six years is the default number of years to own a car because it's a national average. … Read more