Electric Cars vs Petrol Cars vs Hybrid Cars

Natalie McGinness 9 minutes Published: 15/11/2022

Picking a new car used to be so simple back in the day. Choosing between petrol or diesel, picking from the limited colour options and boom! You’re out the door with a new car. 

But, how things have changed. With the market offering up petrol, diesel, mild hybrid, self-charging hybrid, plug-in hybrid, electric and hydrogen fuel cell options, there’s now so much to consider.

To help you make sense of all of this jargon, we’re going to explore the three most popular fuel types: petrol, electric and hybrid. From exploring what they are to which one gives you the most bang for your buck, our article is sure to help you choose which one is best for you. 

 In the market for a brand new car? Lease Fetcher compares millions of lease deals every day to bring you the best prices available. 

Petrol Cars

Although electric car manufacturers have made huge leaps forward in EV technology in recent years, petrol and diesel cars still dominate the UK car market.

Petrol cars are the cheapest of the lot, cheaper even than diesel. While a diesel does typically have better fuel economy, you’ll be much better off with a petrol unless you regularly travel longer distances, as the Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) needs to get warmed up to function efficiently.

What is a Petrol Car?

A petrol car has an internal combustion engine that converts chemical energy (petroleum) into kinetic energy. All of this power is then sent to the wheels through the gearbox. Unlike an electric car, where torque is provided instantly, petrol cars require to be revved to achieve torque, movement and speed. 


In a side-by-side comparison between electric and hybrid vehicles, one of the biggest cost differences is of course fuel. Fueling a petrol car, in the current climate, can be the biggest expense you face with a petrol car.

Of course your monthly payments are likely to be higher than the cost of a full tank. However, depending on your driving habits you may be likely to fill up as much as once a week! And with current fuel prices sitting at £1.62 / litre, the costs can quickly amount up.

The purchase price of a petrol car is significantly lower than an electric or hybrid car. This is likely due to the fact that EVs have only emerged in the last decade, meaning there are less second-hand options available for purchase.


  • Cheap to purchase.

  • Quick and convenient refuel time.

  • Unlike EV's, range anxiety is not an issue.


  • High running costs due to fuel prices.

  • Negative environmental impact with high emissions.

  • Charges apply in low emission zones.

Electric Cars

Countless studies have shown that electric cars are better for the environment. Unfortunately, when compared with petrol and hybrid cars, electric cars have a pretty major downside: a high RRP (Recommended Retail Price). 

What is an electric car?

Electric cars work without an internal combustion engine, and instead have electric motors which are powered by a large battery pack. Powered by 100% electricity, EVs typically host a lithium-ion battery. 

One of the biggest selling points of electric cars is that they are completely emission free, making them a great environmentally-friendly choice. They receive their energy from charging via an external power source, and can give you up to 300 emission free miles. 


Although electric cars are notoriously expensive, government grants for electric cars can help to soften the blow. All EVs with a list price below £35,000 are eligible for a £2,500 discount with the Plug-in Car Grant (PiCG). You can also get £350 off the cost of a wallbox installation with the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS).

Electric car charging at home can save you big money, with overnight rates as low as 4.5p/kWh with EDF Go Electric. You could charge a Tesla Model 3 Long Range with a 360 mile range and a 75kWh battery for just 1p per mile if you charged only during the cheapest hours. 

Road tax is currently non-existent, and BiK tax bands are as low as 1% this year, rising to 2% next year. 

As of 25th October 2021, only battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are eligible for the 100% cleaner vehicles discount in London’s congestion charge zone.

Because EVs don’t have gears and electric cars don’t need oil changes, they’re also much cheaper and easier to maintain.


  • Every journey is emission free.

  • Government grants are available for certain EV's.

  • Exempt from paying congestion charges.


  • Purchase price can be considerably higher than petrol or diesel models.

  • Charging times can be long and inconvenient.

  • Electric range compare to mpg with petrol can be lower.

If you’re looking to weigh up more about EVs before you make your decision, explore our extended list of Electric Vehicle Pros and Cons.

Hybrid Cars

Hybrid cars make up a big portion of the number of electrified vehicles in the UK. According to the RAC, there are over 1 million hybrid cars currently on the roads (compared to just 330,000 electric vehicles), including full or Self-Charging Hybrid electric vehicles (HEV), Plug-in Hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) and Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicles (MHEV).

So, what is the difference? First of all, let’s clarify what a hybrid car is. Put simply, it’s a car that uses both petrol or diesel and electricity from a battery to propel the car. 

The three different hybrid designations (MHEV, HEV, and PHEV) refer to different levels of electrical assistance.

Mild Hybrid 

Mild Hybrid electric cars use a 48-volt battery in addition to a traditional combustion engine. It provides gentle assistance to the car, helping with the likes of indicating and braking, hence the name “mild” hybrid.  

They are the cheapest of the hybrid options, and offer modest emission reductions - making them a good option for any eco-conscious driver. If you’re looking to find out more about mild hybrids, read our explanation of mild hybrids, what they are and whether you should get one.


Mild hybrids still require regular refuelling, much like a petrol car. So even though there is electric power behind the engine, it still needs petrol, which of course is a cost to regularly budget for. However, as the hybrid technology assists the engine, your fuel consumption is reduced, meaning you get further on a full tank.

Mild hybrids do have lower running costs than their petrol counterparts. This is due to the lower emissions produced, lowering the road tax band. Plus, out of the hybrid and electric options, mild hybrids are the cheapest to purchase.


  • Low emissions with the price tag of a petrol.

  • Lower running costs than both petrol and electric.

  • No range anxiety.


  • No “all electric” option.

  • Fewer financial incentives than electric cars.

  • Not all mild hybrid’s are manufactured in an environmentally friendly way.

Self-Charging Hybrid

Full Hybrid Electric Vehicles (FHEV) or Self-charging hybrids, are also commonly referred to as “hybrids”. A Self-charging hybrid works alongside a combustion engine and uses electric power to slow the car down, brake, indicate and accelerate. 

They can drive on pure electric power, petrol only or both at the same time! FHEV’s are powered by regenerative braking, which takes any “wasted” energy the car hasn’t used and recycles it back into the car.

To find out more read our article where we explore what self-charging hybrids are and whether you should get one


As the middleman, we know that in terms of purchasing and running, hybrids can be cheaper than pure electric models but more expensive than petrol. Unlike mild hybrids, a self-charging hybrid actually provides you with pure electric range, making them a more fuel efficient option.

To explore the cost of a self-charging hybrid, let’s look at one of the most popular models on the market - the Ford Kuga. The Kuga is a self-charging hybrid with a starting RRP of around £30k. Producing 125 g/km, you can expect to pay roughly £180 per year on road tax. Ford even has a handy money saving calculator to help you estimate how much money you will save annually by owning a Kuga.


  • No charging required.

  • Greener than a mild hybrid.

  • Fuel efficiency is improved.


  • Low electric range.

  • Not best suited to constant motorway driving.

  • Fewer financial incentives to take part in.

Plug-in Hybrid 

A plug-in hybrid does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s essentially a full-hybrid that can be plugged in to charge. It still uses regenerative braking to recharge the battery, but to maximise your emission-free driving, you’ll want to manually recharge often.


Plug-in hybrids have more electric power behind them than mild or self-charging hybrids, meaning you achieve a greater electric range. This electric range tends to be 40 miles on average, and significantly improves your fuel efficiency, reducing the frequency of refuelling.

The electric-only range of a PHEV is typically between 20-50 miles, though the The BMW X5 xDrive45e is a clear outlier - a green giant with a 54-mile claimed all-electric range. It’s also rated at just 32g/km CO2 emissions, which puts it in one of the lowest BiK tax bands, making it a great choice for a company car

Unfortunately, it’s probably only worthwhile getting one of these if you’re a certain kind of driver. In other words, if you don’t drive primarily in urban areas with occasional motorway excursions and you don’t have a driveway to recharge at night, this probably isn’t for you. 


  • Impressive all electric range that significantly reduces fuel consumption.

  • Can make short journeys on electric power alone.

  • Reduced emissions means reduced tax rate.


  • Can have a high purchase price.

  • Requires manual recharge as well as refuel.

  • Not the best option if you regularly do longer journeys.

Overview Comparison Table

Now we have explored all three variations of transmission, we have created this handy table to help you visualise the performance of each. 

For reference, 1 is the best score, 5 is the worst, so the lowest total score is the one that does best in most areas.

You can compare the overall score or the comparison fields which matter most to you.

PetrolMild HybridHybridPlug-in HybridElectric
Purchase Cost12345
Cost of Refuel54321
Ease of Refuel12345
Total Score1919191914

Are electric cars better than petrol and hybrid cars?

It has taken around 10 years for electric cars to be fully adopted by the global driving population. With more household name manufacturers producing EVs than ever before, a more reliable charging infrastructure, and of course the shift in eco-conscious attitudes, more drivers are purchasing EVs.

However, that’s not to say that electric cars are better in the “petrol vs electric cars” debate. It simply means that sales are continuously increasing.

Yes, electric cars are more environmentally friendly. Yes, they reduce the need for you to pay absurd fuel prices. Yes, road tax is cheaper. The list does go on…

But, equally. Yes, electric cars can take up to 12 hours to fully charge. Yes, electric cars can give you range anxiety. Yes, electric cars may not actually be more environmentally friendly due to the way in which they are manufactured. Again, the list goes on.

As you can see throughout our article, there are various pros and cons that can be weighed up for any transmission type. It’s just up to you, as the driver, to prioritise what matters to you to help make your decision. 

For example if you regularly take to the motorway to do long journeys, perhaps a traditional petrol is your best option. Or if you really are concerned about your carbon footprint, then it’s a no-brainer, opt for electric.  

However, if the above has sent you into a frenzy of confusion, perhaps hybrid cars are your best bet. An environmentally friendly middle man, with all the reduced road tax and improved fuel consumption benefits, if you’re torn, get a hybrid.

Has our handy article swayed you to lease a petrol, electric or hybrid model? Explore the best and latest lease deals with Lease Fetcher now!