When buying a car for yourself or your family, choosing the right car body type is one of the important factors in the decision. Another factor that is equally as important, is the right fuel or power type to choose for your car. Fuel type here relates to the type of fuel or power the car uses to drive. Ranging from traditional fuels like petrol and diesel to alternate powertrains like electric and hybrid, it’s important to choose the fuel or power type that is suitable for your driving needs.
One of the most common fuel types currently in India, petrol cars form the majority of all vehicles sold in India, especially passenger vehicles. On a very basic level, Petrol can be defined as liquid fuel that is made by distilling petroleum. Used majorly to fuel vehicles fitted with traditional combustion engines, fuel is ignited through a spark to generate power that moves the wheels and sets the vehicle in motion.
Advantages of Petrol Fuel
- The cost of petrol cars is cheaper when compared to diesel counterparts, as petrol is cheaper to manufacture than diesel.
- A Quicker start, since petrol is highly-combustible
- Faster acceleration
- Quieter Combustion and Operation as compared to other fuels such as diesel.
Disadvantages of Petrol Fuel
- Petrol engines deliver lower fuel efficiency when compared to their diesel counterparts
- Retail cost of petrol is also on the higher side, and is constantly fluctuating, which makes running a petrol vehicle expensive.
- Petrol cars do not command a good resale value in the used car market when compared to their diesel counterparts.
- Petrol as a fuel is not preferred for large cars and commercial vehicles that are fitted with high capacity engines.
- Finally, it is considered to be more polluting when compared to diesel combustion.
Another most preferred type of fuel when it comes to vehicles, Diesel is highly preferred across the globe. When it comes to combustion, Diesel engines use air compression as compared to sparking in order to ignite the fuel. This leads to a higher thermodynamic efficiency directly leading to better fuel efficiency, and lower emissions.
Advantages of Diesel Fuel
- Excellent fuel economy and efficiency as compared to petrol engines.
- High torque values making diesel the best choice for high speed runs and high power utility.
- Durable engines which are capable of outlasting the equivalent petrol engine
- Better price in the resale market when compared to petrol cars.
- Life of diesel engines are known to be higher than that of petrol ones.
- Diesel engines emit less carbon dioxide, making diesel a cleaner fuel than petrol.
Disadvantages of Diesel Fuel
- Diesel vehicles are priced higher when compared to petrol counterparts.
- Servicing of a diesel engine is relatively expensive as compared to a petrol version.
- Diesel engines are considered to be slightly underpowered when pitched against petrol engines.
- Making diesel engines environment compliant is more difficult, hence not preferred by all leading OEMs
Electricity is fast emerging as an alternative power source to conventional fuels. With leading OEMs launching their iconic models in an electric avatar, EVs are rapidly gaining momentum in India. At a very basic level, an electric vehicle (EV) is a vehicle that derives its power from a built-in battery instead of a conventional combustion engine that is powered by either petrol or diesel. An electric vehicle is fitted with a battery pack on-board that is connected with a motor that turns the wheel. The battery on-board an EV can be charged using a specially designed charging cable either at home or at specialized EV charging stations.
Compared to both diesel and petrol, an EV doesn’t utilize any kind of fossil fuel. There are no exhaust pipes, engine or any engine related component. EVs are thus smarter, lighter and modern.
Advantages of Electric Power
- Lowest cost of running as compared to any other fuel.
- Lighter vehicles leading to better drivability and dynamics
- Lowest cost of maintenance
- No carbon emission of any kind
- Quietest drive and controllable mileage.
Disadvantages of Electric Power
- Long charging times: A typical EV takes anywhere between 3 to 8 hours to charge from 0 to 100.
- No alternate source of power: Since EVs are purely running on electricity, there are no alternative sources if you ever run out of battery juice.
- EVs, as compared to both petrol and diesel vehicles, are much more expensive to buy due to the technology being relatively new
Hybrids are another emerging power source for automobiles. The name Hybrid is given to fuelling technology that blends in conventional combustion along with electrification. There are several iterations of how a Hybrid system works, with the most common being:
Full hybrids: The most common type of hybrid vehicle, full hybrids are vehicles that use both a combustion engine and an electric motor to propel the vehicle. This is achieved either simultaneously or independently. Generally the motor works when the vehicle is going shorter distances at low speeds, with the combustion kicking in for longer distances and higher speeds.
Mild hybrid: Much like the full hybrid, a Mild hybrid also uses a combustion-electric combination together. The only difference however, is that the combination isn’t used independently. Instead, the electric motor merely assists the engine to provide torque and improve mileage.
Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) — Finally, Plug-in hybrids do what their name suggests. You can plug them in to recharge the juice of the electric batteries, which are bigger and provide a higher range as compared to what is offered on the full hybrids. The battery pack can also be recharged with the on-board combustion engine to further increase the range of the battery pack.
Advantages of Hybrid Systems
- More environmentally friendly as they produce lower emissions.
- Perfect for traffic struck city driving.
- More efficient than both petrol and diesel counterparts
- Smarter technology
Disadvantages of Hybrid Systems
- Hybrid vehicles are heavier since the vehicle has both a battery and a combustion engine.
- Costly to repair if things mess up
- Costlier to buy as compared to petrol counterparts
- Not as fast as a pure petrol or diesel vehicle.
FAQ about Fuel Types in India
Which fuel type gives the best mileage?
Diesel fuel gives the most mileage, if the driving consists mostly of highway runs.
Can I use diesel fuel in a petrol engine?
Putting the wrong fuel in your car is extremely harmful for the car’s engine. Adding diesel fuel in a petrol engine will cause the engine to seize, requiring a major repair.
Which fuel type is the least polluting?
While all conventional fuels produce pollution, petrol fuel will produce lower Nitrous oxide and particulate emissions than diesel fuel.
Are electric cars more efficient than conventional fuels?
Which is better: petrol or diesel?
If your daily driving requirements are mostly in the city, petrol fuel type cars are better for you. However, if you are regularly driving long distances, then diesel fuel offers more efficiency and saves you money.
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