New Total Cost of Ownership Tool for Electric Cars

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We’ve written about the total cost of ownership of automobiles for a decade, comparing the total cost of ownership of electric cars to the total cost of ownership of fossil-powered cars. The short and sweet of it is that due to lower operational and maintenance costs, as well as higher value retention, electric cars are more cost competitive as time goes on and as the owner drives more.

Various assumptions go into any cost of ownership analysis — gas price over the timeframe analyzed, electricity price over the same period, efficiencies of the cars being compared, resale value at the end of the comparison period, maintenance and operational costs, amount of cash put down at purchase, interest rate, and more! Due to the complexity of it, I have long offered access to the Google Sheet I use for these comparisons — you can copy & paste the template into your own Google Sheet to modify the assumptions. The International Energy Agency (IEA) is now launching a tool of its own.

“As part of the IEA’s work under the Thematic Working Group 1 of the Global Programme to Support Countries with the Shift to Electric Mobility, funded by the Global Environment Facility, the IEA is launching a new tool for calculating the total cost of ownership (TCO) of various types of light-duty vehicles,” the IEA writes. “The tool aims to support road transport electrification and decarbonisation by serving as a guide for users in better understanding the potential cost benefits of electric vehicles in comparison with other type of vehicles.”

It appears that the total cost of ownership (TCO) tool won’t be available until 2023, if I’m reading the PowerPoint correctly.

What’s particularly exciting about this tool is that it is going to be for use in 52 different countries! Modifying such tools for different countries and markets can be difficult, but the IEA has the resources and connections for that, so it’s good to see that the organization is getting this done.

The project is ambitious, as the IEA seems intent on doing a great job on this and having it simple enough for easy use but customizable for different levels of analysis. They want it to cater to “both high-level and more detailed comparisons.” Furthermore, they want “Real-time results so users can perform sensitivity analysis.” Also, smartly, they realize that they shouldn’t make it seem too precise and perfect, or else the results may mislead some people. “Avoid false precision, and err on the side of simplicity where possible” is another target mentioned in the IEA’s PowerPoint about the TCO tool’s development.

It’s uplifting to see that the IEA is doing this, and it’s uplifting to see that the organization seems to be going about it in a serious, thoughtful, practical way. Once the tool is ready, the big question is how much the IEA will market or even advertise this tool. If it is used by 10 people a month, that’s one thing; if it’s blasted from the social media rooftops across the world and gets used by 10 million people a month, that’s something very different. Let’s hope it’s the latter.

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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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