Diesel vs. Hybrid: Examining the Pros and Cons for Automobile Buyers


The decision between a diesel, hybrid or electric vehicle can be difficult for automobile buyers. Ultimately it depends on the type of vehicle you need, your lifestyle and how concerned you are about your carbon emissions. Running costs, resale value and fuel costs should also be taken into account. While diesel cars have come a long way since the days of the black smoke monsters, they are still not as efficient as hybrid vehicles on the highway. Hybrids use electricity and fossil fuel together to improve efficiency and reduce emissions.

They save fuel by using the electric motor for low-speed driving around town and when accelerating at higher speeds, while allowing the internal combustion engine to kick in for additional power. They are often classed as ULEV, or Ultra Low Emissions Vehicles, and can help you to meet stringent local and federal air quality standards. Hybrids are a popular choice because they offer the best gas mileage of all three types of cars. This is because they are more suited to city driving and switch between the petrol/diesel engine and electric motor depending on what’s needed. This allows them to be kinder to the environment and your wallet at the same time. Unlike diesel engines, hybrids don’t produce any harmful gases or particulates when in operation, and only emit water vapour from the exhaust. This makes them a better option for the urban environment where pollution is a problem.

However, the energy required to produce the batteries used in hybrids can leave a significant carbon footprint, especially if they are produced with lithium-ion technology. This can make hybrids less ‘green’ than they might appear at face value, although research into newer battery technologies is underway to address this issue. In contrast, fully electric vehicles (EVs) have zero tailpipe emissions. They also don’t require any maintenance aside from the occasional check of their brake pads. However, recharging an EV can be expensive and the upfront cost is more than that of a comparable hybrid or diesel model. EVs are still in development and are not widely available on the market, but it’s worth keeping an eye out for future developments.

As you can see, there are many factors to consider when choosing the right car for your needs and the environment. Diesels can be great if you’re planning on mainly driving on long motorway journeys, but a hybrid is the safer and smarter option for the city. Don’t be fooled by the EPA fuel economy ratings though; it may take some time before you actually get that savings at the pump. This is why it’s important to look beyond the spec sheet and understand exactly how your car will be used.