Should you choose a hybrid car?

Nearly 1/3rd of motorists are unsure whether to choose a petrol, diesel, hybrid or electric car - are you one of them?

A new survey produced by AOL in March reports that 3 in 10 motorists do not know whether to go petrol, diesel, hybrid or electric when deciding on their next car. Younger drivers (18-24) were even less sure, with 41% admitting that they wouldn’t know which fuel to opt for. Here at Colin Appleyard, we're hopefully going to make the decision of choosing between petrol and hybrid a little easier for you, by addressing the positives and negatives of each.

What is a Hybrid car?

Hybrid cars have a standard combustion engine that’s assisted by an electric motor to achieve lower emissions and improved fuel economy.

  • Mild Hybrid (Battery Assist) - These cars feel like a standard petrol car, however it is able to run on electric when decelerating or whilst stopped, conserving fuel at regular intervals on your daily drive. Fast and smooth engine restarts make it perfect for city traffic. Examples of this type of hybrid include the Suzuki Ignis, Swift, Swift Sport and Vitara, as well as the new Subaru Forester e-Boxer and XV e-Boxer.
  • Hybrid (Dual Power) - An electric motor provides a boost to the petrol engine during acceleration and can even power the car completely in certain situations such as cruising at a constant speed. The battery doesn’t need to be charged from a mains supply like a plug-in hybrid, it is charged by the brakes when decelerating.
  • Plug-in Hybrid - These have a much larger battery capacity that can be charged using a home charging point or public charging station. The combined petrol engine and large battery gives a much greater range than a standard hybrid. It also allows you to travel using just the electric motor for zero emission driving.

Petrol vs. Hybrid: Price

Part exchange

Generally speaking, the more technology a car has the more expensive it is to purchase. As with diesel vs. petrol cars, a diesel car is more expensive to buy but provides better fuel economy for high mileage driving meaning the initial cost balances out over the cost of ownership.

This too is the same for hybrid cars, however the initial expense can vary significantly depending on the type of hybrid vehicle. Mild Hybrid models tend to be only marginally more expensive than their petrol counterpart, whereas plug-in hybrids can be significantly more.

Petrol vs. Hybrid: Emissions

Hybrid vs petrol emissions

The more battery power a hybrid vehicle has, the lower the CO2 emissions vs. a standard petrol car meaning it is better for the environment. This also equates to a lower car tax band and in some cases being exempt from congestion charges.

As an example, the standard Suzuki Swift 1.0 Boosterjet petrol engine has 110g/km (NEDC) emissions vs. 98g/km (NEDC) with the 1.0 Boosterjet SHVS (Mild Hybrid) meaning you would pay £155 car tax for the first year and £135 for the hybrid variant.

Petrol vs. Hybrid: Fuel Economy

Due to the addition of battery power, and particularly with self-charging hybrid cars, this means you will spend less on your fuel. How much less is determined by the power of the battery within the vehicle and how much this is used during driving. We've put together a table below as an example of what savings you may find from a petrol vs. hybrid car.

Suzuki Swift SZ-T 1.0 BoosterjetSuzuki Swift SZ-T 1.2 Dualjet Hybrid
Combined MPG (WLTP)51.456.4
Petrol Price (per litre)109.9p109.9p
Annual fuel cost (over 12,000 miles)£1,166.41£1,063.01

Benefits of Hybrid Cars

ProsCons
✅ Better Emissions❌ Generally more expensive to buy
✅ Better Fuel Economy❌ Batteries can be expensive to replace if they go wrong outside of the warranty period
✅ Better Residual Values
✅ Equally Good Reliability
✅ Reasonable Servicing Costs