Return to blog

Fleet Management

Petrol vs Diesel: which fuel type is better for your fleet?

Closeup of a gas pump with different types of fuel available.

Overview of the differences between petrol and diesel

There are many factors when it comes to choosing between diesel and petrol-powered vehicles, and it’s important to know the main differences between the two fuels before making a decision. Diesel engines typically have greater torque development and require more fuel for a given level of power output. This means they generate more power than petrol engines with less fuel input, giving a diesel engine more efficiency and fuel economy than its petrol counterparts. However, it’s important to note that diesel engines have a higher initial purchase price than petrol engines. In terms of emissions, diesel cars are generally seen as more polluting than their petrol counterparts. This is largely due to diesel engines producing more nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM). However, modern diesel engines, such as the Euro 6 standard, have been designed to drastically reduce emissions through the use of filters and additives like AdBlue. In this blog we aim to teach you about the costs of each fuel type in terms of monetary and environmental impact.

Comparing the cost of petrol and diesel

Cost of fuel

When it comes to the cost of petrol or diesel fuel, the difference is more nuanced. The cost of fuel itself varies depending on your location, and diesel is often slightly cheaper per litre than petrol, though the differences in cost per litre aren’t always great. The fuel costs associated with diesel can potentially be offset by its higher fuel economy. Diesel engines generally require less fuel for a given level of power output, meaning you may be able to go further on a single tank of fuel than you would with a petrol engine. When talking specifically about fuel economy, diesel may be the better option, especially for long-distance, motorway journeys.

Cost of maintenance and repairs

When looking at the cost of maintenance and repairs for diesel-powered vehicles, it’s important to consider the currently required diesel particulate filter (DPF) regeneration process. This process requires drivers to drive their vehicle at certain speeds – usually on the motorway – for an extended period of time, and while this regeneration process is typically effective, it does put wear and tear on the DPF that will eventually cause it to need replacing. Not all diesel vehicles require a DPF regeneration, which makes older diesel vehicles cheaper to maintain than their newer counterparts.

Cost of purchasing a diesel vs. petrol vehicle

The cost of purchasing a diesel car is still generally higher than a petrol car, meaning you’ll likely pay more when buying a new diesel car than you would for a new petrol one. Ultimately, the purchase price will depend on the make and model of each car, but in general diesel models are more expensive to purchase than their petrol counterparts. SUVs, for example, tend to have higher price tags across both diesel and petrol, meaning the price difference is often less pronounced. It may be worth considering a petrol version if your requirements are not particularly suited to a diesel, or you could even consider a plug-in hybrid or other electric vehicle.

30+ years of fleet tracking success in the UK

Environmental implications of diesel and petrol

When considering the environmental implications of diesel and petrol, air pollution is one of the key issues to consider. Due to the higher particulate matter and NOx emissions, diesel cars are often seen as more polluting than petrol cars. However, due to stringent emissions regulations, modern diesel cars produce considerably lower emissions than their older counterparts, and in some cases may produce less carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions than equivalent petrol cars.

Another option: fleet electrification

In addition, electric cars are becoming increasingly popular and are often seen as a much more environmentally friendly option. Electric cars produce zero tailpipe emissions and while battery electric vehicles will have associated emissions from their electricity generation, they are still generally seen as a more environmentally friendly option than petrol or diesel vehicles.

Learn more about fleet electrification

Final Considerations for Choosing a Fuel Type

When choosing a fuel type for your fleet, it’s important to consider your fleet’s needs and usage. If most of your vehicles are new, fuel efficiency from diesel engines may prove economical over the long term. However, if your fleet includes older diesel vehicles, or you plan to do a lot of towing or have to drive in an emission zone such as London, then petrol may be the better option. You’ll also need to factor in the tax rates that apply to different fuel types.

It’s also important to take into account the current market conditions, as the car market can shift from petrol to diesel or vice versa quite quickly. For example, recently we’ve seen petrol vehicles gaining larger market shares than diesel, as diesel had grown unpopular due to greater tax rates. If you’re purchasing a used car, it’s important to consider the fuel type it runs on and take into account any financial or environmental implications of that fuel type in your decision.

Ultimately, finding the right balance between cost and environmental impact for your fleet requires carefully considering all of the factors noted above and taking into account your own fleet’s needs and usage.

Inseego can help your fleet save on fuel

Inseego's Fleet Tracking and Management solution helps fleets save on fuel usage by providing key insights into vehicle operations, driver behavior, and route optimization. The platform enables real-time fleet tracking, in-depth reporting, and predictive analytics to identify areas for improvement in fuel efficiency. Fleet managers can use this data to compare driver activities, optimize routes and identify maintenance issues that may be affecting fuel consumption.

Book a demo!

Boost fleet operations, reduce running costs and improve safety and security today.