Choosing which car you want to buy can be a fun and exciting challenge. When people consider their options, often they compare buying and running costs, interior space, speed, power, and of course, looks!
Outside of these factors, you might like to keep in mind environmental factors. Sustainability is becoming more of a prevalent issue as pollution levels rise. It's the everyday, small things we do that can help reduce the CO2 emissions we put into the world and one of those actions is looking into the carbon emissions of the car you're buying.
There are three car categories available which we will compare below; petrol cars, electric cars, and hybrid cars. Read ahead to find out the pros and cons of each!
CO2 Emissions Explained
When comparing petrol, hybrid, and electric cars, you will hear a lot of talk about CO2 emissions.
What is Carbon Dioxide
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is a gas known as a “greenhouse gas” that traps heat from the Sun keeping Earth habitable. Carbon dioxide is released naturally into the air by natural causes (mammals breathing, organisms decomposing etc). Nature - trees, plants, and the ocean - tend to keep this under control by absorbing and processing the natural emissions earth produces. CO2 is entirely necessary for organic life on earth.
So What is the Problem with Carbon Dioxide?
Humans release carbon dioxide at a far higher rate than what our environment can keep up with. We are burning fossil fuels such as petroleum, gas, and oil, and releasing higher amounts of CO2 into our atmosphere at a faster rate than nature can absorb, creating environmental issues such as an increased average in global temperatures and strange weather patterns.
Measuring C02 Emissions
The more economical your car is, the less CO2 it produces per kilometre. Find out more about your car’s Carbon Dioxide emissions per kilometre with this calculator.
Hybrid and electric cars were created partly to lessen the amount of CO2 that is being released into our atmosphere. Being conscious of your environmental impact and carbon footprint, can help you make an informed decision when looking at the differences in types of cars.
The Petrol Car
A petrol car is currently the most common type of car available, and requires petroleum to pump through its engine to get it moving.
- Compared to electric or hybrid model, petrol cars typically have more power. Due to the engine running nothing but gasoline, these cars tend to be faster and more heavy duty. You can pull a trailer with ease, plus extra passengers and luggage weight will not slow or impact your car’s performance as much.
- Long road trips are a breeze. You will get a lot of miles out of a tank of petrol, meaning you will be stopping less.
- More space. As petrol is a more powerful fuel than electricity when it comes to cars, it allows the body of the petrol car to be bigger – meaning more interior space inside for your luggage and comfort.
- More choice in styles and body shapes. Petrol vehicles are the most common vehicles as they have been around since the late 1800s! They allow for the most variation in style, shape, and colours, meaning you can personalise your look.
- The CO2 emissions in a petrol car are the highest of the three categories as the car relies solely on petrol to run. A petrol car releases around 2.31kgs of CO2 per litre of petrol. If you want a petrol car, perhaps opt for a smaller car as less CO2 will be emitted.
- Petrol is the most expensive fuel to run. As there is no electric assistance, and petrol prices are far higher in comparison, naturally the car becomes more costly to fuel.
- More expensive option to maintain. With around 2000 moving parts, all needing regular maintenance, there are higher costs attributed to servicing this car.
The Electric Car (EV)
An electric car does not require any petrol, running solely on one or multiple electric motors. The electric car needs to be charged by plugging in at home or at a public charging station.
- Emission Free. The CO2 emissions are at zero as everything is run off electricity, giving you total peace of mind that you are doing your part for the environment.
- Cheap to run. Charging an Electric car means you are only paying for electricity, which is the equivalent to if you were purchasing 30c per litre for petrol! Read more about electric car running costs here.
- Compact – the small frames can allow for tighter turns and fitting into smaller parking spaces.
- Free charging in public. Shopping malls are rewarding electric cars with Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations, meaning you get great parking and your car is charged for FREE while shopping.
- Require less maintenance as there are no clutch, gears or need for things such as oil changes. While a petrol car has around 2,000 moveable parts to maintain, a fully-electric car has far fewer - only around 20! The fewer the parts, the fewer things that need replacing.
- Requires more charging time for longer periods of time. Where a petrol or hybrid car take a couple of minutes to fill the tank, an electric car can take all night. This means you must be prepared and planned when going on longer journeys, mapping out where you can charge your car along the way.
- Not as much power. The lack of petrol engine can make an electric car feel slower or less powerful in comparison the petrol or hybrid car.
- Less roomy. To make the car as efficient as possible, the electric car body must be as lightweight as possible, which means less overall interior space. This can be a hindrance for driver and passenger comfort, and can mean less room for luggage.
- Less variation in body shape. These cars are building popularity, but currently there are less styles to choose from at present than petrol or hybrid cars.
- The initial cost can be more expensive than petrol cars.
The Hybrid Car
The hybrid car combines a petrol or diesel engine with a battery-powered electric motor. The electric powered engine is powered by regenerative braking, meaning that it does not require charging and instead reuses the energy being released by the slowing of the car to charge its battery.
- The hybrid car uses a self-charging battery, which kicks in when you are idling, or going at a low speed, and self-switches the petrol engine off. This makes they hybrid cheaper to run than a petrol car. This self-charging feature means you can fill your car as you would a petrol car and be ready to go almost immediately – no waiting around for your car to charge.
- Less carbon emissions. Although the hybrid car does use fuel, it uses its electric battery while idling and in low speed zones to reduce unnecessary petrol consumption. This makes it a great car if you do a lot of short commutes.
- Less maintenance costs than a petrol car. Due to the shared load of the electric engine, there is less wear and tear on the petrol engine meaning maintenance costs can be up to 5% cheaper.
- Less speed than a petrol car off the mark. As the hybrid car generally uses an electric motor only during low speeds, the car can feel a little sluggish when starting to accelerate
- As hybrids are built to be lightweight, handling can feel a little less controlled than a petrol car.
- As with the electric vehicle, there is less choice in style and body shape due to hybrids being more recent.
When looking at getting a new car, ensure you do your research to make sure you are getting a car that suits you needs and aligns with your environmental beliefs. Whether you go for a petrol, hybrid or electric car, your job can be made a lot easier by reading through our Complete Guide to Buying a New Car.