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Gas, electric, hybrid — which is best for you?

University of Minnesota professor develops an online tool to help you decide which one is best for you.

When Douglas Tiffany’s grandfather emigrated from England around 1910, he used his woodworking skills to make models of cars that would be built in Detroit.

A century later, Tiffany is working with cars, too — but in a distinctly updated medium.

Tiffany, an assistant extension professor at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campuses, has developed an online spreadsheet tool that allows car buyers to figure out what kind of vehicle would be best for them — conventional, hybrid or electric.

The spreadsheet — which can be downloaded at — allows buyers to compare conventional vehicles to hybrids such as the Toyota Prius, electric vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf, and extended-range electric vehicles such as the Chevrolet Volt. A short video on the site shows you how to use the spreadsheet. If you want to know even more, you can watch an hour-long video of a lecture Tiffany delivered on the subject.

The spreadsheet makes certain assumptions, such as the price of a particular type of vehicle, the interest rate charged on a car loan, and the expected miles per gallon of gas or kilowatt hour, and calculates the costs and carbon footprint over 15 years.

Car shoppers can insert figures such as the number of miles they drive per year to determine if a conventional, hybrid or electric car is the best value for them or will reduce their carbon footprint.


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