Pros and Cons of Diesel, Petrol, Electric & Hybrid cars

Electric cars only make up around two per cent of new car sales, but the UK is set to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2040, so it’s likely we’ll all be driving an electric car eventually. Is now the time to take the plunge, or are electric cars still tomorrow’s technology?

It’s worth remembering that electric cars are getting better all the time. Newer models can drive further, charge up quicker and they are getting cheaper. The network of charging stations is growing too.

Let’s look at the differences between electric cars and traditional petrol or diesel-powered cars, and run through the pros and cons that both options have compared with each other.

Electric Cars – The Pros & Cons

As the name would suggest, electric cars are powered entirely by electricity. You plug it in to charge up the battery, which powers electric motors that turn the wheels and make the car go. Examples include the Nissan Leaf and BMWi3.


  • No pollution
  • Cheaper to run and tax
  • Quiet and easy to drive – all electric cars are automatic
  • Charge them up from a normal plug at home, or a public charging station
  •  Government grants are available, which can be worth £1,000s


  • Can be expensive to buy
  • Can take hours to charge up
  • Less choice of models, especially second hand
  • Limited range before they run out of power
  • Lack of charging stations

Petrol and Diesel cars – The Pros & Cons

Both petrol and diesel-powered cars need filling up with fuel at the petrol station, which is then burned in the engine to create the energy that makes the wheels go round. There are a huge range, from small city cars to roomy people carriers and off-road versions.


  • Cheaper to buy than electric cars
  • Easy to refuel
  • Lots of different model to choose from, including second-hand
  • Can travel long distances before refuelling
  • More powerful engines


  • Cause pollution
  • More expensive to run and tax
  • Lose their value more quickly
  • More expensive to service
  • Fuel prices can go up and down

What's the cost of an Electric car compared to Petrol/Diesel?

One big unknown for many people is the practicality of owning an electric car, including how long they take to charge and how far you can drive them. Here’s a breakdown:


  • Fill up at home or at a public charging point. There are nearly 17,000 in the UK
  • The average electricity cost to drive 100 miles in an electric car is £2 to £4 
  • Home charging can take 4-6 hours. Public charging stations can take 2-3 hours. Some rapid charging points take 30 minutes
  • Electric cars can typically travel about 150 miles on a full charge


  • Fill up at any petrol station. There are around 8,400 in the UK , with an average seven pumps each
  • The average fuel cost to drive 100 miles in a petrol or diesel car is £13 to £16
  • Refuelling takes minutes
  • You can expect a Ford Fiesta, for example, to travel about 550 miles on a full tank

The best of both worlds? Hybrid cars

If you’re keen to move on from a petrol or diesel car, but aren’t quite ready to commit to a fully electric car, there is a third option. Hybrid cars have a petrol engine, but they also have a battery. There are different types, but usually the engine charges up the battery, which then helps power the car, which reduces the amount of petrol needed and the amount of pollution produced.


  • More environmentally friendly than petrol and diesel cars
  • Cheaper to run and tax than petrol and diesel cars
  • Longer range than electric cars
  • No need to plug them in
  • Higher resale value than petrol and diesel cars


  • More expensive than petrol and diesel cars
  • Performance isn’t as good as petrol and diesel cars
  • Less choice of models than petrol and diesel cars
  • More expensive to repair and service than petrol and diesel cars
  • Not as environmentally friendly as purely electric cars