Electric Cars vs Petrol Cars - Is An EV Better?

The petrol vs electric debate rages on! And we’re sure it’s going to continue for a number of years as electric cars become more and more popular.

But as we sit here writing this in 2022, are electric cars better than petrol?

What are the main differences and who wins overall when it comes to electric cars vs petrol cars?

Let’s find out…

What Are Electric Cars? (EV)

Electric cars have a number of electric motors which are powered by a battery that you charge either at home or at public stations. The cars themselves don’t have the regular internal combustion engine that most cars have which run off petrol and diesel.

Instead, these vehicles are called battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and usually have one fixed gear, unlike a manual car where you change between 1-5 normally. Unlike a normal vehicle which you would hear when the petrol engine is turned on and it pulls away, an electric vehicle is almost silent and extremely smooth when driving. This is just one of the major perks of an electric vehicle, but don’t worry, we’ve got plenty more coming later!

What Are Petrol Cars?

As we know an electric car doesn’t have a traditional internal combustion engine, petrol cars do consist of one. The purpose of this engine in petrol cars is to send power to the wheels down through the gearbox and the energy is created by the petrol being converted.

Unlike an electric car which has torque straight away, a petrol car needs to be revved in order for the engine to heat up which then accesses all of its power and torque.

Without a gearbox though in petrol cars, none of this would be possible, you need all your different gears in order for the car to operate safely at a variety of speeds. For example, the higher the gear in a petrol car, the faster you go which is why you should always be in fifth or sixth gear on the motorway. Whilst when you pull away, you should be in first or second which then provides extra power for acceleration.

Petrol Car vs Electric Car Running Cost

The running costs of both is not cheap but the pricing differs in different departments. For example, the initial price to buy an electric car is far more expensive than petrol, having an EV charger installed at home could be up to £1000 and charging at public stations is up to 50% more expensive than at home. However the cost of filling up diesel vehicles at petrol stations is not cheap either. 

Let’s take a look at the bullet points below and see where the running costs differences are most noticeable:

Factor – Electric Car – Petrol Car

Electric Car

  • Fuel – Electric Energy
  • Power – Electric Motors
  • Cost – High
  • Fuel Costs – Low
  • Maintenace Costs – Low
  • Carbon Emissions – Zero

Petrol Car

  • Fuel – Petrol
  • Power – Internal Combustion Engine
  • Cost – Low/Med
  • Cost of Fuel – High
  • Maintenance Costs – High
  • Carbon Emissions – Yes

If we look at two similar-sized cars with one being electric and the other petrol, we can get a better understanding of what you may be looking at paying when owning either of these cars:

Vauxhall Corsa – E
Price From New – £28,500
Electric Range – Up to 222 miles
Battery Size – 50KW
Charging – 80% in 3 hours

Vauxhall Corsa 2020 Plate
Price – From New £17,300
Petrol Engines Size – 1.2L
Fuel Type – Petrol
Automatic or Manual – Manual

As we can clearly see straight away, an electric car is going to cost you over £11,000 more if you were to go for an electric Corsa rather than the petrol or a diesel car, as we stated earlier upfront costs of an EV are far more expensive.

However, that is the only area where the petrol vehicles offer better value. After that electric cars win quite comfortably when looking at charging costs, maintenance and other charges like road tax and ULEZ charges.

With that in mind, an electric car you pay no tax on as they do not emit any emissions, you would pay no charge if you entered an ultra-low emission zone and for every 10,000 miles you do, on average electric cars tend to be 30 – 70% less expensive than fuel. So a hypothetical example of that would be, if you paid £1750 for every 10,000 miles, an electric car could cost you between £550 – £1300 for the same distance.

You just have to work out what you are paying per month in fuel for your current car and then calculate the cost of what it would be to charge the electric car you purchase and how far you can travel on that per month. Then, over the year you can see the difference in price for each vehicle.
Plus, an electric car has the added bonus of paying no tax which cab be expensive, especially if you have an older vehicle that produces a lot of carbon emissions.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Electric

As with all vehicles, there are benefits and drawbacks to each, and electric cars are no different. Below we have highlighted some of the key points we found:

Pros:

No C02 emissions – Good for the environment
Cheaper to run per mile than petrol
Certain EVs have grants from the Government
No tax to pay
Hardly and servicing required

Cons:

Upfront cost can be expensive
Less make and models to choose from
Filling a car with petrol is quicker than charging

Advantages & Disadvantages of Petrol

The same with petrol, below are key points we found when looking at these vehicles:

Pros:

Much cheaper to purchase
Filling up is faster
Wide range of make and models to choose from

Cons:

Fuel prices continue to rise
Worse impact on the environment
Expensive road tax – especially for older cars
More maintenance and servicing needed

Electric Cars vs Petrol On The Environment

It’s no secret that electric cars are better for the environment than petrol or diesel. These are fossil fuels and when burnt they produce CO2 which creates a layer in the atmosphere and stops heat from escaping the Earth. This is more commonly known as global warming or the greenhouse effect.

Compared to electric cars which have no tailpipe and therefore produce no carbon dioxide into the air which reduces air pollution considerably. One electric car can save on average 1.5 million grams of CO2 being put into the air. You can also charge an EV through renewable energy such as wind and solar.  

They make our streets cleaner, have better air quality and provide a brighter future for the planet. The UK government is hoping to ban the sale of all petrol and diesel cars by 2040 in the hope that by 2050 carbon emissions will be at zero and electric cars will have played a major role in that.
You will hear people say that building an electric car uses a lot of energy and although this is true, it’s still a greener option, even after the battery manufacturer is taken into account.

Over a third of all CO2 emissions, an electric car will produce in its lifetime come from the initial build.
But as this is a new market, technology continues to advance on reusing and recycling batteries. In the future, there could be batteries in our homes that are used to store electricity, this would reduce the lifetime impact of battery manufacture on the environment.

Difference Between Hybrid & Electric?

The main difference between hybrid electric vehicles and fully electric vehicles is that the hybrid cars still uses fossil fuels as well as electricity. Whilst a fully electric vehicle runs just off the electricity stored in the battery and is charged through a cable. Hybrid cars run using a petrol or diesel engine and an electric motor and batteries.

There is a wide range available including, plug-in hybrids, self-charging, mild hybrids and full hybrids. As you would, expect, hybrid vehicles are slightly better than petrol on the environment, but similar to an EV, require more upfront cost. They have similar benefits as an EV such as less maintenance, money on fuel and tax charges, but are not as fully economical as an EV, so we would still advise on getting an electric vehicle if you can afford to run it.

Are Electric Cars Better?

We would have to say yes electric vehicles are better, not only for the environment but for your back pocket too. An EV may cost more upfront, but with the amount, you save on fuel, tax and maintenance, this more than makes up for it in the long run.

An EV is ideal for cruising around towns and city centres as long as there are plenty of places for charging. They offer a smooth drive and if you go through any ULEZ zones, you won’t have to pay a charge. A petrol car would be better if you are visiting more rural places in the UK, where the charging infrastructure may not be great and you have to travel miles just to find a charging point for your car.

Also, over the course of a long drive on a motorway, petrol and diesel vehicles deliver better fuel economy and it is a lot faster to fill up a conventional car.

Apart from that, electric vehicles are in our opinion the better option and moving forward we expect more and more people to choose an EV over a petrol or diesel models. By 2040 you can expect to see hundreds of thousands more electric vehicles, if not millions as every country looks to reduce its carbon footprint.

FAQ’s on Electric Vehicles (EV)

Are Electric Cars More Reliable Than Petrol?

It all comes down to personal preference and luck, some people have issues with an electric car in the first 12 months, whilst others don’t have any issues at all, it’s luck of the draw and making sure you still look after it properly.

How Long Do Electric Cars Last?

Electric cars last on average 10-20 years if properly maintained and you don’t stumble across any major issues. Most manufacturers have a 5-8 year warranty on the battery as well.

Health Benefits of Electric Cars?

There have been studies that show by increasing the number of electric vehicles in large metropolitan areas such as major cities, then you can reduce the health harms that are being contributed by tailpipe emissions. This is one of the many reasons why governments around the world are pushing electric vehicles, for a greener more sustainable future.

Last Word

Hopefully, you have a better understanding of the two vehicles and can see the pros and cons of both when it comes to electric car vs petrol. 

Electric vehicles are definitely worth going for in the future as the government is looking to phase petrol and diesel cars out in the next few decades, but ultimately they are more expensive, so you have to weigh up your current situation.

For more information on electric cars, head back to our main categories page.

Picture of Nick
Nick

Nick is the proud owner of a MG ZS EV and is an EV fanatic. He has been featured in notable publications like USA Today and The Times for his expertise in the field.