25 March 2015


With petrol, electric and hybrid cars available, there are many options nowadays when it comes to powering your vehicle.

In the past petrol and diesel were the only fuels available to power vehicles, however since the late 1990’s hybrid vehicles, which uses a combination of traditional fuel and electricity, have been produced and more recently electric vehicles have been an option.

Companies are now opting to future proof their fleets by introducing a variety of petrol, hybrid and electric vehicles. With the Allstar range of fuel cards, there are several options including the Allstar One Electric card, which can support purchasing fuel or electric vehicle charging.

Hybrids, petrol and electric cars all have their own advantages and disadvantages, and the vehicles you choose will be based on your fleet’s unique needs. Here are a few considerations:

Hybrid Cars

Hybrid vehicles are growing in popularity as companies become more environmentally conscious. There are different types of hybrid vehicles, all of which work slightly differently, using both petrol and electric components in order to power the vehicle.

The most common types of hybrid vehicles include; parallel hybrids, range extender hybrids and plug-in hybrids. Out of these, the most popular type of hybrid vehicle at the moment is the parallel hybrid - a good example of this kind of hybrid is the Toyota Prius. The Prius and vehicles like it can be powered by the petrol engine, the electric motor or a combination of both, to reduce fuel consumption without compromising on performance.

Parallel hybrids will have a relatively powerful electric motor, combined with a smaller petrol engine that is used to support it, rather than power the car independently. Most parallel hybrids will use the electric motor only at low speeds and when stop-start driving in city centres, however when accelerating quickly or driving at high speeds, it will quickly activate the petrol engine to increase the power. The electric motor isn’t usually charged externally, and instead is powered from a combination of regenerative braking.

When driving a hybrid vehicle, every time the brake is applied, it helps to recharge the battery. An internal mechanism kicks in, capturing the energy emitted and using it to charge the battery, reducing the need to recharge the battery on a regular basis. This is known as regenerative braking. Coasting is a similar driving method for petrol vehicles to maximise range and MPG (Miles per Gallon), allowing the car to coast to a stop on its own.

Range extender hybrid cars use their petrol engines only to power the electric motor, rather than to power the vehicle itself. Range extenders use the electric motor as much as possible, only switching to power from the smaller fuel-based engine when the batteries are low. Range extender hybrids, similar to parallel hybrids, can also get power from regenerative braking, which makes this the best type of hybrid for inner city driving. However, it is the most compromised on performance. This type of hybrid engine is being used more often in public transport applications, such as buses and taxis.

Plug-in hybrids are fairly self-explanatory - they feature a rechargeable electric battery that you would charge just like a fully electric vehicle, but also have an additional petrol motor to help support performance. Plug-in hybrids work very similarly to parallel hybrids, however they usually have considerably more battery power. Sometimes they have more than one electric motor which makes these vehicles more difficult to recharge using just regenerative braking, hence why they also have plug-in capabilities.

Advantages of Hybrid Cars:

The main advantage of hybrid vehicles is that they are more environmentally friendly. As they combine fuel with electric capabilities, they have lower emissions than regular petrol vehicles, and simply get through less fuel on the whole as a result. This means that hybrid vehicles are perfect for city driving. They also tend to have better gas mileage, offering the power of a regular engine but they are more energy efficient. This means the driver does not need to refuel as much as they would driving the same journey, in the same style, with a normal petrol vehicle. Additionally, hybrids also have regenerative braking so every time the brake is applied, it helps to recharge the battery whilst on-the-go.

With hybrids, it’s also possible to get some tax incentives, as governments and local authorities encourage drivers to choose more environmentally friendly options. This varies from region to region but can include exemption from congestion charges, and for businesses in the UK, hybrid vehicles for company use can be written off as an allowable deduction.

With a continuous increase in the price of gasoline, more and more people are turning towards hybrid vehicles as the cost of fuel is cheaper due to the better fuel economy compared to traditional combustion engine vehicles. The result is that hybrid vehicles have started commanding higher than average resale values.

Hybrid vehicles are made of lighter materials with an engine that is also smaller and lighter, but this is to counteract the lithium battery which can be much weightier. When the vehicle is idle, the engine in hybrid vehicles automatically shuts off to capture the kinetic energy as part of the regenerative braking, and only starts up again when the accelerator is pressed.

Disadvantages of Hybrid Cars:

While hybrid vehicles have their advantages, they also have disadvantages too.

Firstly, as hybrid vehicles have both a combustion engine and battery, they are much heavier than their counterparts and don’t tend to handle higher speeds as well as regular petrol vehicles do. In general, they don’t have the same level performance that lots of drivers look for when choosing their next vehicle. This includes things like slower accelerating speed and less nimble.

Hybrids are also more costly to buy and maintain than regular vehicles are, both new and second-hand. As there are fewer hybrids on the road, it can be more difficult to find parts and mechanics with the expertise to make repairs, which are often more costly. There are also more costs associated with replacing hybrid batteries, though they are designed to last for at least 100,000 miles before being needing to be replaced. It can be very difficult to safely dispose of hybrid batteries and without risk to the environment, which means an additional expense. In most areas, however, proper battery recycling is mandatory, so it’s not something drivers can avoid.

Finally, as hybrids are built to be more efficient and economical, they are not as fast as traditional fuelled vehicles. If this is what a driver is looking for their next vehicle, a hybrid car may not be the best option.

Petrol Cars

Advantages of Petrol Cars:

Petrol vehicles have been around the longest, and offer many benefits over hybrid and electric vehicles.

The main advantage of petrol vehicles is that they are generally cheaper to purchase and maintain as it’s much easier to find parts and mechanics to repair petrol vehicles than hybrid or electric. Petrol vehicles also tend to perform better when it comes to speed, acceleration and agility (for example, the battery in a hybrid vehicle becomes dead weight when it’s flat).

Disadvantages of Petrol Cars:

Petrol is always fluctuating in price, however diesel fuelled vehicles are also becoming increasingly expensive to run as governments try to discourage people from buying them. Another consideration is that the prices of fuel is also very flexible and can rise or fall depending on multiple factors, which makes it quite difficult to estimate costs.

The main disadvantage, however, of petrol vehicles is that they are not particularly energy efficient and they aren’t environmentally friendly. As they are powered by fossil fuels, they use a lot of non-renewable energy sources, which means at some point in the future, the fuel will no longer be available.

Electric Cars

Electric vehicles are becoming increasingly popular, both for personal use and for businesses looking to reduce their carbon footprint.

Electric vehicles are powered by an electrically charged battery pack. This works to power the motor and turn the wheels and can be charged via a wall socket, like those used for other electrical appliances, but are more often charged via a dedicated charging point. The vehicle’s charge point is simply plugged into a source of electricity and the battery receives power that is stored inside the vehicle. As no fossil fuels are used to directly power the vehicle, they are the most eco-friendly option when it comes to choosing vehicles for your fleet - they also don’t have any emissions.

Advantages of Electric Cars:

The key benefit of an electric vehicle is how eco-friendly they are compared to petrol or diesel powered vehicles. Electric vehicles run solely on electricity, meaning there is no consumption of fossil fuels which essentially eliminates your fuel costs. Of course, you do encounter charges when using public charging points, but using a fuel card can help to make the process of recharging quick and simple.

Electric vehicles are also much quieter, and mileage can be much improved compared to petrol or diesel engines, especially when driving at low speeds in cities and built-up areas. Overall, the total cost of ownership for electric is much lower than traditionally fuelled vehicles as they don’t require the maintenance and oil changes that combustion engine vehicles do – there is simply no engine to maintain. The UK government is supporting the use of electric vehicles with a growing network of charging stations nationwide, so that electric vehicle charging becomes more convenient for those charging on the road.

Disadvantages of Electric Cars:

A disadvantage of electric vehicles is that charging takes much longer, sometimes taking hours to get the battery level needed for a longer journey. If you run out of power on the move, you’ll need to wait for the battery to recharge before setting off again. Compared to hybrid and petrol vehicles where you can refuel and be ready to go on the road again in a matter of minutes, this will take longer depending on the type of charger being used.

The range on electric vehicles varies before they need recharging, your drivers need to take this into consideration. If your drivers regularly travel longer distances, route planning is required to find the most time efficient charge points.

Fuel cards for Hybrid, Electric & Petrol Vehicles

Overall, all types of vehicles have their pros and cons. It’s best to choose a vehicle that best suits your particular needs.

Fuel cards are a popular choice for easy fleet management, simplified expenses and are a cost-effective way to refuel. Explore what a fuel card is here and find out how we can help you make the most out of your fleet and fuel management.

Fuel cards can be used to help simplify the process of managing your fleet’s fuel costs. Whether you’re a haulier with a fleet of multiple HGVs and commercial vehicles, or a small sales team expensing business fuel for your personal vehicles, we offer a range of fuel cards to make it as simple as possible to manage fuel expenses.

A fuel card works very similarly to a normal credit card, however instead of the charges going to an individual’s account, fuel cards direct the charges to the business’ account. The transactions are then collected into one HMRC-compliant invoice, allowing the business to quickly and easily see how much they’re spending on fuel, where their big expenditures are, identify any issues and create a more efficient, streamlined administrative process.

Fuel cards have traditionally only been used for petrol and diesel vehicles. As the number of hybrid and electric vehicles on the road increases, there became a need for a fuel card that helps fleet managers to stay in control of their fuel costs, process electric vehicle charging costs and helps them to reduce their business carbon footprint. Allstar One Electric has been made with electric vehicles, hybrid vehicles and mixed fleets in mind, so as well as having the capability to pay for traditional fuel, cardholders also have access to a growing nationwide multi-branded electric charging network.

View the range of Allstar cards here.

Get in touch with the Allstar team today on 0345 266 5101 for more information.

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