Tag Archives: Travel

Google Adds Fuel Cost Calculator to Maps in Europe

Journey Planner

Google Maps Fuel Cost Calculator

While browsing the Internet this weekend I came across this rather startling post from fleet management company FieldLogix about a new feature in Google Maps in Europe that estimates fuel costs for a trip.  What’s startling about this is not the feature itself but the fact that its largely been overlooked despite the potential for broad implications across several industries.

I’ll cover more on this (and why we’re so excited by this new development) in a later post, but for now lets just focus on the details of this new feature. It appears that cost estimates are now part of all the European Google Maps sites and can be found at the bottom of the driving directions along with a link to modify car type as well as fuel grade and price.  If you modify these options Google will save those changes for future routes.

The currency is localized to the country of origin and remains constant regardless of the number of countries traversed in your route.  To illustrate I’ve entered a route from London to Rome in Google Maps UK (see below).

Google Maps cost calculator

You’ll note that the fuel cost for this trip is estimated in UK currency even though the trip crosses multiple countries.  It’s not clear how the average fuel price of 1.26 British Pounds Sterling per litre  is determined but in testing several routes within the UK the same price is applied so I am assuming this is based on a country average.

For comparison purposes, Cost2Drive locates the nearest gas price at the origin of the route and then calculates the cost based on real time gas prices along the route to account for regional variations.  For example a route from Chicago to New York has an average gas price of $3.12 vs $3.17 for a route from Chicago to Nashville.

Cost2Drive calculates cost based on real time gas prices along the route

Additionally, whereas Google’s tool allows for 3 vehicle types Cost2Drive allows you to select the exact vehicle you are driving from a database of over 20,000 cars and trucks so you’ll get far more accurate cost estimates.  Cost2Drive also locates the cheapest gas at refueling points along your route, and for routes over 200 miles displays the cheapest airfare found on Kayak.com.

Toll costs are not included in the calculation even though they can be substantial in Europe, especially if your route includes a Channel crossing which is around 42 pounds ($68) each way if you opt to take the Chunnel.  As an aside, toll cost information is the most requested feature on Cost2Drive and so we’re actively looking at ways to include this information.

Note that Michelin’s mapping product does include toll cost information for routes in Europe.  In fact Michelin deserves a great deal of credit for being a leader in this space however they are severely hampered by an overly cluttered user interface which has been the downfall of many trip planning applications.

It will be very interesting to see where Google takes this feature.  Will it soon appear in US maps? Will their driving directions evolve into more of a trip planning product? As I mentioned I’ll share more of my thoughts on this in a later post, but please feel free to share your own thoughts below.

Happy Driving!

jim@costtogo.com

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Gas Prices Hit 2-Year High, Panic Ensues..

It’s like that horror movie we’ve all seen, where we’re certain that the monster has been slayed, but just when we think its safe to go back in the water again….

Over the Christmas holiday you may have noticed the signs. No, not the tell-tale signs, the actual retail signs at the service station heralding a new era of gas prices above $3, and if you’ve been reading the press lately the predictions are that its going to get worse, possibly much worse.

Around Thanksgiving AAA set things in motion by predicting gas prices of $3.50 by this spring.  This was enough to get the journalist circling as they could smell blood in the water.   Soon after Thanksgiving analysts further baited them with predictions even higher, up to $4 a gallon.  Without skipping a beat, many of them bit.

And then, right on the heels of Christmas, the ultimate chum was thrown in the water, $5 gallon by 2012!  Let the feeding frenzy begin!  There’s no telling where the actual price will end up, but one things for sure…we’re gonna need a bigger boat (or at least a more fuel-efficient one).

What do you think of these rising gas prices? Share your comments below.

What does it cost to drive a Chevy Volt?

Chevrolet Volt

For our inaugural post on the Cost2Go blog I thought it might be fun to look into the future by adding the Chevrolet Volt into our Galculator (fuel cost calculator) on Cost2Drive.  The timing of this coincides with two conferences in Texas this week; TravelCom 2010 in Dallas and the SXSW music/film/technology conference in Austin where Chevrolet is a sponsor, and will be hosting a Chevy Volt Recharge lounge at the event.

So what would it cost to drive a Chevy Volt if we had one in our hands today?  Well, first we need to understand the fuel economy of the vehicle.  We looked to a CNN/Money article from last summer to learn that the Volt is expected to get 230 mpg for commuting-type driving and 62.5 mpg for longer distance highway driving where the route extends the 300 mile range of the vehicle (based on a 6 gallon fuel tank).

We’ve plugged this information into our Galculator on Cost2Drive so you can now select the 2011 Chevrolet Volt as your vehicle and find the cost of driving any route in the US.  Our Galculator also calculates the cost of flying for trips over 200 miles so you can see if its cheaper to drive a Chevy Volt or cheaper to fly.  You can also use it to compare the cost of driving your own car versus the Chevy Volt.

Just for kicks we entered the route from Lansing, MI to Austin, TX (location of the SXSW conference) driving a Chevrolet Volt and the  cost is $59 each way based on current fuel prices along the route.  The cheapest airfare for that route is $277 (roundtrip on Delta) so in this case its definitely cheaper to drive…if you don’t mind spending 2 days on the road.

Check it out here and select the 2011 Chevrolet Volt and let us know what you think!

Happy Driving!

Jim

(Note that our Galculator does not yet include the cost of electricity so that cost, though likely nominal, is not factored into the cost calculations)