T3CO: Transportation Technology Total Cost of Ownership

NREL's Transportation Technology Total Cost of Ownership (T3CO) tool enables levelized assessments of the full life cycle costs of advanced technology commercial vehicles.

T3CO logo

Medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles operate in diverse vocations with varied performance and economic requirements. T3CO accounts for these operational variations as well as technology considerations associated with decarbonization.

The T3CO methodology, vetted by industry and stakeholders, employs best practices developed across U.S. Department of Energy total cost of ownership studies while addressing key gaps in standard methodologies.

Benefits of the Transportation Technology Total Cost of Ownership Methodology

Total cost of ownership is a critical metric for mass adoption of advanced commercial vehicles. Taking a holistic approach, T3CO considers full life cycle costs, allowing fleet vehicle operators to objectively evaluate the costs and savings associated with converting traditional diesel operations to advanced technologies such as battery electric or fuel cell electric vehicles.

In addition to accounting for the direct costs of buying, maintaining, fueling/charging, and driving a commercial vehicle, T3CO quantifies indirect costs posed by new technologies—such as dwell time to charge/fuel, cargo capacity impacts associated with varied powertrain mass, and zero-emission infrastructure costs. T3CO also leaves room for adaption as industry and technology evolve.


Because of its modular architecture, T3CO can be expanded and integrated with existing models, such as alternative powertrain or infrastructure siting models. 


A fully integrated Python model, T3CO features an end-to-end, cohesive approach for evaluating costs and enabling consistent comparisons across technologies and vocations, including trade-offs between conventional, battery electric, and fuel cell electric options.


As demonstrated in NREL's Fleet DNA repository of more than 12 million miles of real-world commercial fleet vehicle operating data, such vehicles have unique operational requirements that must be factored into total cost of ownership analyses. T3CO meets the need for a common, inclusive methodology to ensure apples-to-apples comparisons.


T3CO integrates NREL's Future Automotive Systems Technology Simulator and Scenario Evaluation and Regionalization Analysis models. Because T3CO is based on nonproprietary models, it provides flexibility without sacrificing fidelity. NREL is exploring opportunities to make T3CO's source code openly available.

Uses and Applications

Researchers use T3CO to:

  • Identify quantitative, goal-driven research and development needs
  • Inform critical technical targets for medium- and heavy-duty electric vehicles and related electrical components to accelerate commercialization
  • Assess electric vehicle charging and hydrogen fueling infrastructure needs and inform operations
  • Help industry partners assess and prioritize research needs and measure technology impacts
  • Conduct total cost of ownership analyses for conventional and electric vehicles across various commercial vehicle vocations to predict break-even years.

Future Vehicle Attribute Scenarios

These Excel spreadsheets provide information about medium- and heavy-duty vehicle attributes generated by the T3CO model, including detailed assumptions for two scenarios, interactive plots showing vehicle attributes over time for each scenario, and the underlying data. Data are also available as flat CSV files.

The Automotive Deployment Options Projection Tool webpage features corresponding market-driven future light-duty vehicle attribute scenarios.

Select Publication

Spatial and Temporal Analysis of the Total Cost of Ownership for Class 8 Tractors and Class 4 Parcel Delivery Trucks, NREL Technical Report (2021)


Alicia Birky

Researcher V - Systems Engineering


Jason Lustbader

Manager, Advanced Vehicles and Charging Infrastructure Group