Would switching from petrol to electric help you cut costs and your carbon footprint? A new tool could help you find out from the comfort of your own laptop.
Despite news about Tesla and co's latest inventions in electromobility seeming to make the news every other day, the numbers of electric vehicles currently on our roads are still pretty modest. One reason for that is electric cars' (still) very large price tag. While "filling up" and maintaining an electric vehicle is cheaper than a car with a traditional motor, those savings aren't seen until a few years down the line.
And while electric cars are heralded as an eco-friendly alternative to normal vehicles, there's a lot of room for improvement there too. As long as they're being charged with power from non-renewable sources, the CO2 savings are going to remain pretty limited. And the energy-intensive production of the batteries that go into an EV means a few minus points too. But all that said, switching from petrol to electric power can still have benefits for drivers and the environment.
Germany's Öko-Institut (The Institute for Applied Ecology) has developed a couple of tools that can help you work out how much money and emissions you could save by switching over to an EV, with separate calculators for personal and commercial use.
Online Cost Calculator for Private Users
According to information from the Öko-Institut, around 40 per cent of new electric vehicles are sold to private consumers. "With this tool you can work out the total cost of ownership - from purchase to use and resale - and also compare its CO2 emissions when compared with conventional vehicles," explains Lukas Minnich, a researcher at the Öko-Institut. "You can also input individual variables, such as the electricity source and the amount of kilometres you travel each year."
So, how many greenhouse gas emissions can be saved by switching from diesel and petrol vehicles to electric?
Looking at one of the example calculations on the site, scientists have come to the conclusion that using the current electricity mix, electric cars actually end up producing around three tons MORE CO2 than conventional vehicles. Used over eight years however, they produce around ten tons LESS.
Does an electric car make sense for you? Check the Electric Vehicle Cost Calculator to find out.
Is Electromobility a Good Fit for your Company?
The Öko-Institut also offers an e-mobility calculator for commercial vehicle fleets as part of the project "ePowered Fleets Hamburg". This research project has followed around 500 electric vehicles in more than 230 Hamburg companies to see what effect switching to electric has on CO2 emissions and overall costs. A commercial switch to electric has the potential for huge change - of the 3 million vehicles that are sold in Germany each year, around 800,000 of those are for companies.
You can check out the commercial vehicle calculator right here.
This article is a translation of the original which first appeared on RESET's German-language site.