With automotive trends and technologies moving faster than at any time before, there have never been more choices to make when selecting a new vehicle. One of the main decisions to come to is the fuel type, and the right choice for you will depend on your situation and what you intend to use the car for. It's an emotive subject for many motorists, and there's a lot of conflicting information out there about the benefits and pitfalls of petrol, diesel, hybrid and electric engines. To help analyse the issues that each fuel faces we've summarised the pros and cons below.

 

ford fiesta

Petrol

Pros

Cheaper to buy

Petrol cars tend to be less costly than their diesel and hybrid counterparts.

Better to drive

Many people find petrol cars more fun to drive with more acceleration at lower speeds and a nicer engine sound, this is a just a matter of opinion though of course.

Easy to fill up

As with diesel, petrol car owners have no concern as to fuel availability and filling up takes a matter of minutes too.

 

Cons

Poor fuel economy

Generally speaking, diesel and hybrid engines will outperform petrol with longer ranges and better mpg figures.

Depreciation

In the past, petrol cars have suffered from lower residual values although recent years have seen diesel cars experience drops in value owing to the emissions scandal and the threat of increased taxes.

Not environmentally friendly

Petrol engines produce more CO2 than other engines, which has a negative impact on the environment.

Petrol price is volatile

Prices at the pump can rise and fall from month to month making budgeting more difficult than an electric vehicle where costs are low and tend to stay the same.

Mercedes C-Class

Diesel

Pros

Good fuel economy

Diesel engines generally produce better mpg figures than petrol, especially over longer journeys.

Engines tend to last longer

When properly serviced and maintained, diesel engines tend to be able to run for more miles with less chance of breakdowns.

Lower depreciation

In the past diesel vehicles have often experienced less depreciation than petrol, however in recent years this has not always been the case.

Produce less CO2

Diesel engines emit less greenhouse gases than their petrol counterparts sometimes making them subject to lower taxes.

 

Cons

More expensive to buy

Diesel cars usually cost more than buy than petrol, insurance can also be more pricey.

Not good for city driving

Diesel Particulate Filters need regular motorway driving to continue to work effectively so are not really suitable for only short journeys.

Taxes increasing

Vehicle Excise Duty for diesel cars in rising in April and there could be further levies in the future, such as greater congestion charges for example.

Expensive at the pump

The price of fossil fuels can be volatile but diesel always tends to be at least a couple of pence more than petrol per litre (although this is generally balanced out by better efficiency).

Particulates

Diesel engines produce harmful particulates which have a negative effect on air quality and public health.

Higher repair costs

It can be more expensive to fix diesel engines than their petrol counterparts if something goes wrong.

Diesel price is volatile

Prices at the pump can rise and fall from month to month making budgeting more difficult than an electric vehicle where costs are low and tend to stay the same.

Toyota Prius

Hybrid

Pros

Fuel efficiency

Hybrid engines will usually outperform pure petrol and diesel engines when it comes to fuel efficiency, especially for city driving and shorter journeys.

Government grants

You can claim up to £4,500 against the purchase price of a green vehicle and claiming is simple, the saving is included in the cost of your lease payments.

Pay less tax

Hybrid vehicles tend to emit less CO2 and are subject to lower tax bands.

Low depreciation

In the past hybrid vehicles have experienced relatively lower depreciation, this also makes them better value to lease.

No range anxiety

As hybrid vehicles use conventional fuel alongside electric there are no concerns that they could run out of power, you can simply fill up at a petrol station (or potentially charge up if it's a plug in hybrid).

 

Cons

More expensive than conventional vehicles

Prices of hybrids are coming down but they still tend to be higher than vehicles with petrol or diesel engines.

Battery costs

Hybrid engine batteries can be expensive to maintain and replace if there are any problems.

Plugs in require charging

Some hybrids need charging up which can take four or five hours

Hybrids can be heavier

Because of the battery and extra mechanisms hybrid cars generally weigh more and so often handle less responsively

Not particularly efficient on longer journeys

Because they recharge when decelerating, hybrid engines are fantastic for city driving, however over longer journeys efficiency advantages are less pronounced.

Not zero emissions

Whilst hybrid cars are more fuel efficient than conventional engines, they still have emissions.

Tesla Model 3

Electric

Pros

Zero emissions

Pure electric engines use no fossil fuels so emit no harmful waste products.

Government grants are available

You can claim up to £4,500 against the purchase price of a green vehicle and claiming is simple, the saving is included in the cost of your lease payments.

Cheap to fuel

Electric cars can generally be charged for less than £10, or in some cases even for free, and this can  deliver a range of up to 300 miles, considerably cheaper than even the most efficient fossil fuel cars.

Predictable costs

Electricity prices are not as volatile as petrol and diesel, which means the cost of refueling your vehicle will not change much over time.

Beat the Congestion Charge

All fully electric vehicles are exempt from the London Congestion Charge.

Performance

Some modern electric vehicles, like Teslas for example, offer seriously impressive performance figures.

Low depreciation

Many electric vehicles have experienced relatively low depreciation in the past.

 

Cons

Expensive to buy

Electric vehicles are still generally more expensive than the equivalent fossil fuelled models, however prices are falling all the time.

Range anxiety

The maximum range of electric vehicles tends to be significantly lower than petrol and diesel cars and therefore might not be suitable for longer journeys.

Recharge times

Battery charging times are falling as technology improves but they are still significantly longer than the time it takes to fill up with petrol or diesel.

Charging point availability

There are currently only around 5,000 public charging locations in the UK and these are generally concentrated in urban areas.

Silent engines

Whilst a quiet ride with much less engine noise makes for a more relaxing drive, there is a risk that pedestrians will not hear vehicles coming.

 

Which fuel will you choose for your next vehicle?
Petrol
Diesel
Hybrid
Electric
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