Whether to drive a petrol or diesel has been a debate that has reached levels similar to the PlayStation vs Xbox debate, with one key difference, this debate has been around since the day cars became mainstream in Britain. However, just like when the Nintendo Wii came roaring into the limelight, now there’s a new contender in the car engine game that is only increasing in popularity – the electric vehicle.
Read on as we discuss the benefits and limitations of all three to try and help you make an informed decision about which you should have next on your driveway.
With petrol cars making up the majority of cars on UK roads, it’s easy to see why there are many reasons to drive one. The price of fuelling up your petrol vehicle will be lower than if you were using diesel at the pumps, with the price of petrol coming in at least a few pence per litre cheaper – which over the course of a year will make a decent saving. Petrol cars are also great for making smaller trips, so if you are looking for a car to make your short commute to the office or to run the kids to school, a petrol fuelled vehicle could be the perfect choice for you.
Petrol cars produce less local air pollution than vehicles that run on diesel, however petrol does create more CO2 emissions which are linked directly to climate change. Petrol is also less fuel efficient over longer journeys, so although it is cheaper to put in your car, you may find that you are needing to fuel up more often than a diesel car if you are making long motorway trips.
The main thing to consider with petrol cars is that they will be more expensive to operate in the long term, through repairs and filling up more often. However, a petrol vehicle will be less expensive for the initial purchase compared to an electric car.
Diesel powered cars will be more expensive to fill up, however they are much more fuel efficient when it comes to driving longer journeys. This is because diesel engines can produce more power than petrol, meaning that they do not need to use as much fuel. Diesel cars are also a better choice if you need to tow something, as they are more powerful due to their torque. You will receive better mpg (miles per gallon) with diesel as well, which will mean you will be fuelling up a lot less than if you were making the same trips in a petrol car. As less fuel is being used by the engine, this means that diesel cars produce fewer CO2 emissions.
Modern diesel cars can be more expensive to buy than the equivalent petrol model, due to the complex technology fitted in the engine to reduce harmful emissions. Older diesel cars also give off nitrogen oxide, which is linked to poor air quality that can cause issues in built-up areas. Some diesel cars will be affected by ‘clean air zones’ which are appearing in some cities, and will charge cars for driving in certain areas because of their emissions.
Newer diesel engines are fitted with a feature in the exhaust, which is a called the diesel particulate filter. This reduces the number of particulate emissions that come from the vehicle, however this does not work until the engine reaches a certain temperature, meaning that diesel cars aren't great when it comes to short journeys.
One of the benefits of driving an electric vehicle (EV) is that up until April 2025, there is no road tax to pay, whereas some petrol and diesel cars can see their annual tax costing over at over £140. Electric cars are also cheaper to run per mile than vehicles that have an internal combustion engine. A study conducted by JCT600 showed that an electric e-Golf cost only 3.7p per mile, with the petrol and diesel Golfs coming in at 14p and 13p respectively. Unsurprisingly, EVs are also the most eco-friendly out of the three options as they have zero emissions.
Unsurprisingly, EVs are also the most eco-friendly out of the three options as they do not have a tailpipe to emit harmful gasses from. This means that electric cars can help to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gasses as they have zero emissions.
However, electric cars do have their drawbacks. When you run out of charge, it will take longer to charge up your vehicle to a suitable driving level than it would if you were simply putting fuel in, so it’s very important to check the range the car has before making a long journey. The weather conditions can affect the quoted range and there are also fewer public charging points in comparison to petrol stations, so always be mindful of this and plan your journey accordingly.
Since EVs do not have engines, in theory there is less to break down inside them so repairs should be few and far between, though regular servicing is still required. That being said, in the unlikely event something does go wrong, it can be very costly to fix. The range that an electric vehicle is capable of can also be reduced over time due to battery degradation.
EVs can also be great for people who have can get a home charging point installed, but they are less efficient for those who only have on-street parking. The government is planning to change this though, and the amount of charging infrastructure is only getting better as time goes on.
Which is better?
Well that entirely depends on your circumstances, as all three have their benefits but also their drawbacks. If you make short journeys, petrol would be great - or if you have a home charging point installed electric could be a good option. If you make longer motorway journeys, diesel could be more efficient for you. In the longer term, however, the drive towards net zero will mean that everyone transitions to electric vehicles in the foreseeable future.
Please contact us today to find out more about the different fuel options and the cars that we can offer you.