Sustainable Blog

The Clean Car Calculator

Until now shopping for a high fuel efficiency car, like an electric or hybrid vehicle, could be confusing with overwhelming amounts of data to digest and compare, but students at The Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at The University of California, Santa Barbara have just made it seductively simple.

Enter the Clean Car Calculator: an elegant online calculator that allows the consumer to compare any two high fuel efficiency vehicles on the market, providing a financial and environmental analysis of the cars and even recommending other vehicles to consider given the user’s criteria. The calculator allows the user to adjust for as many or as few variables as desired, like the car’s primary use, percentage of highway miles driven, government tax incentives, etc. One of the most valuable aspects of the calculator is that it determines how long one must own a high fuel efficiency vehicle for it to make economic sense in fuel savings.

The idea for the calculator was inspired by a homework assignment. Project manager Kate Ziemba explains:

The Calculator resulted from an assignment in the Energy and Resource Productivity class taught by Dr. Sangwon Suh at the Bren School that challenged students to understand the return on investment for businesses and consumers to implement energy saving technologies. Students compared lifetime costs and emissions of conventional gas versus high efficiency vehicles. The graduate student developers were surprised to find that hybrids not only paid themselves back in fuel savings, but also that newly released vehicles, such as the Volt and the Leaf, were smart purchases even without a government subsidy.

There you have it! There is more data everyday to show that electric cars and hybrids make sense for the environment and the consumer. But don’t take our word for it – check out the calculator and have fun comparing a few of your favorite green dream cars.

Blog posts delivered weekly.

Recent Posts

Categories

Monthly Archive

By the Numbers

Currently 50 million households suffer from food insecurity, meaning that family members cannot always meet their basic food needs.

10 million people a year could be fed through the recovery of just one-fifth of food waste.

Only 2% of food waste is composted or otherwise recycled—62% of paper is recycled.

Consumers throw out about 40% of the fresh and frozen fish they buy.

The U.S. produced 208 pounds of meat per person in 2009—60% more than Europe.

Low income commuters spend a much higher proportion of their wages on gas—8.6% versus 2.1% at $4 per gallon.

Food prices rose 35-40 percentage points between 2002–2008.

Americans consume 25% of the world’s produced oil, but our nation holds less than 3% of the world’s proven oil reserves.

The International Energy Agency says greenhouse gas emissions rose 3.2% last year, with a 9.3% increase in China offsetting declines in the US and EU.