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Fuel types

There are lots of things to consider when choosing a new car, but fuel type is one of the most important when it comes to running costs and affordability. The Motability Scheme offers petrol, diesel, hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fully-electric vehicles to give you as much choice as possible – but what is right for you?

Petrol and diesel vehicles

Traditional petrol and diesel engines have been around for a long time and are by far the most common vehicles on the road at this time. There are pros and cons to both fuel types and the right choice for you depends on the type of journeys you usually make.

If you rarely drive on motorways and tend to stick to lower speeds or urban driving, a petrol vehicle will likely be more suitable for you.

Generally speaking, diesel vehicles are better suited to drivers that tend to make longer journeys or spend more time on motorways. Diesel usually costs a little more per litre at the pump, but diesel vehicles are also likely to give you more miles per gallon (MPG) than equivalent petrol vehicles.

However, there are growing concerns about the environmental impact of diesel engines as they have been found to emit more air quality pollutants than petrol engines. To combat this, all new diesel vehicles are now fitted with a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) which catches these pollutants and periodically burns them within the engine – a process known as regeneration. This system will engage automatically when driving at a high speed for an extended period, but if you only tend to make shorter journeys around town, the DPF may not regenerate properly and this can cause problems over time.

Hybrid vehicles

Hybrid vehicles combine a standard petrol or diesel combustion engine, battery and electric motor and can be considered the first step towards going fully electric. The electric motor powers the wheels at lower speeds or in combination with the combustion engine, with the combustion engine taking over the driving or recharging the battery when needed. This combination makes hybrid vehicles highly efficient for urban driving.

Typically a hybrid vehicle battery is charged by the engine, mainly from the energy created under braking. However, you can also get plug-in hybrids which can be charged using an electric socket and often feature a bigger battery, meaning you can drive further on pure electric power. In some cases, this can be as much as 30 miles. Otherwise, hybrids are refuelled in the same way as a conventional petrol or diesel vehicle.

Electric vehicles

Fully electric vehicles are probably the long-term future of motoring, with the government planning to ban the sale of new petrol, diesel and hybrid vehicles from 2040. Electric vehicles work solely on battery power and are the ultimate eco-friendly choice as they create zero exhaust emissions.

Rather than MPG, electric vehicles work on ‘range’ and you need to regularly charge an electric vehicle to make sure you have enough range to complete your journey. The range of an electric vehicle can be affected by a number of factors including the outside temperature, your driving style and even whether or not you are using the air-conditioning.

If you are considering an electric vehicle you will need to have access to a charge point to recharge the battery and pay for the electricity that is used. There are two options available on the Motability Scheme. If you have off-street parking, bp pulse can install a charge point at your home. If this is the first charge point you have had installed, the cost of supplying and fitting the charge point will be covered partly by the Government’s ‘OLEV’ grantOpens in new window , which bp pulse will arrange on your behalf. We will then cover the rest of the installation costs, but if any work is required to gain access to your electricity supply you will be responsible for these costs. Please note that you can only receive an OLEV grant once, so if you have previously had a charge point installed which is not compatible with your next car, there will be a cost of £350 for bp pulse to fit a replacement.

Alternatively, if you don’t have off-street parking, or it’s not possible to fit a home charge point, bp pulse will arrange for you to access a network of public charging points for easy on-street charging. To find out more about bp pulse charging options please speak to your dealer when choosing your car.

With over 7000 charge points across the country bp pulse are the UK's largest public charging network, but you can also find and use other local charge points by visiting websites such as in new window or zap-map.comOpens in new window . If you prefer to use a different provider to bp pulse, you will need to cover any installation or access costs for this, along with the electricity used.

What to consider

Hopefully you now have a better idea of the fuel type that would best suit your needs. However, we have also outlined a couple of factors below that you may want to consider and research further.

Miles per gallon

The miles per gallon (MPG) figure can help you decide how economical a car may be in terms of fuel consumption. However, it’s worth noting that fuel consumption figures should be used for comparison purposes only as they may not be the same as the figure actually achieved. This is because of the way they are calculated.

Since 1 January 2019, MPG performance is measured using the new Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) fuel economy tests, which typically give lower mpg performance values than the old New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) tests. Please consult manufacturer websites for the most up-to-date mpg performance values.

Exhaust emissions

Every car gives off different levels of exhaust emissions. One of the most harmful emissions is carbon dioxide (CO2) and car manufacturers are continually working to reduce this.

All new cars are tested and given a CO2 emission level rating. In line with banding introduced by the government, these range from A (the lowest CO2 emissions) to G (the highest CO2 emissions.) Cars with a CO2 emission level of 100g/km are considered low emission models. There are several low emission models available through the Motability Scheme. Look for the green leaf symbol on our Car Search.

The majority of the low emission cars (bands A and B) are models with smaller engines and/or body size, making them potentially unsuitable for those who require more space, for wheelchair storage or to carry multiple passengers, for example.

We recognise that one size does not fit all, and we therefore offer greener choices for all classes of vehicle. With emission levels differing by up to 65g/km between various small family cars and 100g/km between MPVs, your choice of car model could make a significant difference in your environmental impact.

Car Search

To get idea of the vehicles and engine types currently available on the Motability Scheme, please follow the ‘Search Cars’ link below. Here you can find all of the current makes and models offered through Scheme, as well as pricing and your nearest dealership. You can also filter by fuel type to see what we offer in each category.

Search cars