Best Fuel Types For Cars: Electric, Hybrid, Diesel or Petrol?

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The advancement of cars in the last decade means that choosing a fuel type for your vehicle is no longer just a choice of diesel or petrol.

You can now choose between fuel-efficient hybrid cars and emissions-free electric cars if traditional combustion models don’t meet your needs.

So, which type of ‘fuel’ is best for your next car? In our latest blog we take a look at the different options and reveal the pros and cons of each to help you make the best choice.


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Should I choose a petrol car?

Young woman refilling petrol in gas station

Petrol cars are still the most popular type of new car, with a current market share of around 46%.

This is primarily down to the fact that petrol cars tend to be much more affordable to buy and lease than their diesel, hybrid and electric counterparts.

Another benefit of a petrol car is that their fuel efficiency has massively improved in recent years – to the point where the difference in price for the car itself and running it offsets the slightly lesser efficiency.

If you don’t drive many miles per year (less than 10,000) then a petrol car is probably a good choice for you.


Should I choose a diesel car?

Diesel fuel pump

Despite diesel cars being somewhat shunned to pave the way for newer fuel types, it still remains a viable option for drivers.

If you put a lot of miles on your car’s clock and value performance, diesel could be a sensible choice. That’s because most diesel cars produce higher levels of torque (power) because of the higher compression ratio during the combustion process.

What’s more is that they tend to have better fuel economy than petrol models due to them burning fuel more efficiently.

It’s important to remember that if you do a lot of city driving or short commutes, then a diesel car won’t be as efficient as petrol, hybrid or electric models. This is due to most diesel cars having a DPF (diesel particulate filter) in the exhaust that prevents soot from passing into the atmosphere, which was added as part of the Euro 5 standard for diesel. Unfortunately, lots of short trips can cause a blockage in the exhaust that could lead to a breakdown, as the DPF needs to reach a certain temperature in order to regenerate.


Should I choose a hybrid car?

The Hyundai Kona Hybrid has an excellent 1.6-litre petrol-electric unit

Hybrid cars have been around since the ever-popular Toyota Prius was made available in 1997. Since then, they’ve increased in popularity thanks to their superior fuel economy and low emissions which make them some of the most affordable new cars to run.

Rather confusingly, hybrid cars are available with three different ‘levels’ of electrification.

  • Mild hybrid: mild hybrids use an electric motor and traditional combustion engine (usually petrol) but they can’t be powered by one or the other independently. A small electric motor assists the engine, providing modest power and efficiency boosts. You don’t need to charge a mild hybrid car because the engine does this automatically.
  • Full hybrid: full hybrids use an electric motor and combustion engine that can work simultaneously or independently. The electric motors are bult into the car’s drivetrain, meaning you can drive the car in electric-only mode, albeit at low speeds and for limited distances. You don’t need to charge a full hybrid car because the engine does this automatically.
  • Plug-in hybrid: a plug-in hybrid vehicle uses a bigger onboard battery that needs to be charged once empty. These models provide much better electric-only ranges (usually around 30 miles), meaning you won’t have to use fuel when commuting locally. It’s important that you remember to charge the battery, otherwise your car will use a lot more fuel carrying an empty, heavy battery pack around.

Many drivers see hybrid cars as a logical ‘half-step’ before committing to a fully electric car because of their partial electric drivetrains. You should bear in mind that even though hybrid cars may seem more expensive to buy, this usually isn’t reflected in monthly lease costs, and you’ll likely find a hybrid car available on lease for a similar monthly price to an equivalent petrol model.


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Should I choose an electric car?

Electric Vehicle is charging in street of Coventry, UK

An electric car is powered solely by an electric battery and motor that turns the wheels. Most new electric cars have a range between 80-250 miles, depending on the model you choose and its battery size.

They produce zero emissions from a tailpipe, so immediately you’ll be saving £12.50 per day if you’re a city driver that has to travel through a ULEZ (Ultra Low Emission Zone) while commuting.

More importantly, electric cars tend to be cheaper to charge than petrol, diesel and hybrid cars are to fuel. According to the latest figures from charging provider PodPoint, the average cost to fully charge an electric car from your home is £15.10, while public rapid chargers cost on average £11 for around 30 minutes of charge (equivalent to around 90 miles of range).


Want to find out if now is the time to switch to electric? Find out if an EV would work out cheaper for you with our new electric car vs petrol calculator.


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Free charging is also widely available at many workplaces and supermarkets, so in many instances you won’t have to spend a penny topping up your EV while you’re not using it. If this wasn’t enough, all electric cars are exempt from road tax and are generally cheaper to maintain due to them having fewer moving parts.

Last year, electric car sales reached a record high and outsold plug-in hybrid models, so now could be the right time for you to switch to electric.

If you have convenient access to domestic/work charging points and travel less than 200 miles per day commuting, then an electric car could be a great option for you to save money on your next car.


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