Which fuel is cheaper on balance - petrol or diesel? We weigh up the options.
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As fuel prices skyrocket, more motorists are turning to diesel vehicles with hopes that they’ll lower their driving costs. Last year, diesel car sales surpassed petrol-run car sales for the first time ever. But are diesel cars really that much more cost-effective than petrol? New research suggests it depends on how much you drive.
On average, diesel cars have a higher purchase price than petrol cars. However, the price of used diesel cars has risen so much that the price gap is significantly wider than in new cars.
The Typical Petrol-Diesel Price Gap
NEW CARS New diesel cars run £1,300 more than new petrol cars.
USED CARS Used diesel cars run £2,000 more than used petrol cars.
* For average new and equivalent 3-year-old family-sized cars.
Motorists don’t need to be environmentalists to benefit from a car with lower emissions. Diesel cars typically have lower emissions than petrol cars, which means lower vehicle taxes in most cases.
Petrol Car (Skoda Fabia 1.2 TSI Monte Carlo) 124g/km
Diesel Car (Skoda Fabia 1.6 TDI Monte Carlo) 109g/km
Cost of Fuel
Petrol prices are typically lower than diesel prices at the station. People tend to see diesel cars as a more economical option for their fuel economy, not for the price of diesel.
Retail Price Per Liter
Premium Unleaded Petrol
Diesel cars typically have greater fuel economy compared to petrol cars. The Telegraph test drove two identical cars, which differed only by fuel type, 1,600 miles to determine which had the better fuel economy and driving experience. The diesel model outperformed the petrol model in all stages.
Average Fuel Economy Test
Because of the rising cost of used diesel cars and current fuel prices, it takes more miles of driving each year to make the cost worthwhile.
New Diesel Car >> You’d have to drive 6,000 miles a year to break even.
Used Diesel Car >> You’d have to drive 10,000 miles a year to break even.
* For average new and equivalent 3-year-old family-sized cars.
With diesel fuel prices and diesel car prices both higher than petrol equivalents, determining whether driving a diesel vehicle is right for you may come down to how much you drive.
SOURCES: DAILY MAIL, GLASS’S GUIDE, SOCIETY OF MOTOR MANUFACTURERS AND TRADERS, THE TELEGRAPH, EU OIL BULLETIN, ENERGY INSTITUTE
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3:24 PM on 08/05/2012
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Diesel cars also tend to last longer and to be more reliable than their petrol equivalents. I drove my diesel Skoda until the odometer went back to zero, and the only reason I had for getting rid of it was the rust that allowed the rain to drip onto my lap.
6:25 PM on 08/05/2012
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You missed the point about Brits. who regularly use their vehicle on the continent of Europe when you did your mileage calculations. In France and Spain and several other countries, diesel is far cheaper than petrol. In fact petrol in the EC is more expensive than in the UK in many cases......JUST A THOUGHT.
11:37 PM on 19/05/2012
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I think that is really interesting on the Petrol vs Diesel, that would change my mind when I consider the next car, especially with the shocking prices on petrol in the U.K. Who can stop it forever going up, government do not seem to be? I am willing to support if I know where to start. People will not be able to afford to travel to work soon. Caroline
3:22 PM on 21/05/2012
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What about LPG? I've been converting my Petrol cars to LPG and runing them for over 10 years now. At 75p/l why doesn't this get more publicity?
7:30 AM on 22/05/2012
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Most reports of this nature seem to forget the resale value of a diesel being higher than a petrol. This is reflected to some extent by the 3 yr old diesel selling for approx £2000 more than a petrol. The cost of money then ought to be considered, and the cost of repair of a high mileage diesel. All in I still think you'll find a diesel wins for a much low mileage than is suggested here.
4:44 PM on 29/08/2012
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Diesel cars are more reliable (if serviced often, which the wealthier people seem they are exempt), cheaper on to run, can be run on vegetable oil .etc. and also have more torque for when driving at higher speeds.. But.. Also sounds like a tractor which is its biggest fault..
9:14 AM on 11/09/2012
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People will think that a lower CO2 means that diesels are better for the environment. However a recent report shows that diesels produce 20 times more carcinogens than petrol. The World Health Organization is calling diesel fumes 'a major cancer risk'. There was a BBC file on 4 report on this recently. And this relates to new cars not just older ones.
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