New Car Fuel Consumption & Emission Figures

This page was last updated on 8th January 2021

Cars and Fuel options

This guide contains data on vehicles running on petrol and diesel, as well as alternative fuels, such as Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), and hybrid and electric vehicles. Descriptions of the different fuel types and technologies are provided in the table below.

PetrolSpark ignition’ engine fuelled by petrol usually obtained from fossil fuel sources (crude oil).  Referred to as gasoline or ‘gas’ in North America.   Current forecourt blends contain up to 5% ethanol (E5).  Higher blends (E10, up to 10% ethanol) may be introduced.  All new cars are compatible with E10.

Table 1: Summary of fuels and technologies
Conventional Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles
Petrol ‘Spark ignition’ engine fuelled by petrol usually obtained from fossil fuel sources (crude oil).  Referred to as gasoline or ‘gas’ in North America.   Current forecourt blends contain up to 5% ethanol (E5).  Higher blends (E10, up to 10% ethanol) may be introduced.  All new cars are compatible with E10.
Diesel Compression ignition engine, fuelled by diesel, a heavy petroleum fraction usually obtained from fossil fuel sources (crude oil).  Current forecourt blends contain up to 7% of plant derived diesel (bio diesel).
Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) or Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) Gas fuelled vehicles, either CNG (methane) or LPG (propane and/or butane). There is a small global market for such vehicles, usually dual fuel (gas/petrol) although few, if any, right hand drive LPG are available in the UK; one manufacturer has an arrangement for their models to be converted, a number of other companies offer after-market conversions.  LPG ‘autogas’ is available from around 1200 filling station forecourts.  CNG is available in about six stations.
Hybrid vehicles
Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) A vehicle powered both by a conventional petrol or diesel engine and an electric battery. The battery is charged using excess energy from the engine, as well as by reclaiming the car’s kinetic energy when it brakes. These vehicles have a battery and an electric motor but cannot be connected and recharged by mains electricity and are not eligible for a government grant. Most hybrid electric vehicles exceed 75 g/km tailpipe CO2 emissions, the current definition of a ULEV, and are not eligible for other incentives such as the cleaner vehicle discount allowing free access to the London Congestion Charging Zone.
Plug-in Hybrid EV (PHEV) PHEVs combine both a plug-in battery pack and electric motor with a conventional engine. Both the electric motor and the engine can drive the wheels depending on the mode and requirements (for example all electric mode over many typical trips). The battery is much smaller than in a battery electric vehicle, tending to drive the vehicle for a limited range.  This is sufficient in most models to cover the average journey length of the UK driver. After the battery range is utilised, the hybrid capability means that the vehicle can continue journeys powered by its conventional engine.  Whilst these vehicles are usually no longer eligible for a purchase grant there are environmental and cost benefits.
Range Extended Battery EV (E-REVs) * E-REVs have a plug-in battery pack and electric motor, as well as a conventional engine. The electric motor always drives the wheels, with the engine acting as a generator to recharge the battery when it is depleted. Typically, these vehicles have a pure electric battery range of around 40 miles, before the vehicle switches to the range extender mode to continue the journey without range compromise.
Pure Electric Vehicles
Battery EV (BEV) * BEVs are wholly driven by an electric motor, powered by a battery that is usually recharged from mains electricity either, through a dedicated charge point or through the normal domestic supply at home, at business or the public charging network (see They rely entirely on electricity for fuel, which means they do not produce any tailpipe emissions.  New BEVs typically offer ranges between 150 miles and 250 miles with ranges continuing to increase as new models and variants come to market.
Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV)* FCEVs share a large proportion of the electric motor and drive train technology with other electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. However, their energy storage and conversion devices are different. Instead of taking electricity directly from the mains, these vehicles use a fuel cell to produce electricity to drive its electric motor. A fuel cell is an electrochemical device which generates electricity when continuously fed with hydrogen, with the only by-product being water, from an onboard tank that can quickly be refuelled at around twenty stations.

*usually eligible for a plug-in car grant to help with the purchase cost of a new car.  Please visit the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) website for a list of current eligible vehicles:

The Road to Zero Strategy considers the importance of the choice of fuel options in meeting the UKs carbon and air quality objectives and advice presented here is drawn from the strategy.

The Government remains committed to policies and incentives that are technology neutral. But it is essential that we understand the relative environmental performance of different technologies in the real world.

Battery electric vehicles are highly energy efficient and have zero tailpipe emissions. The assessment made in the Road to Zero Strategy, shows that battery electric vehicles also have substantially lower greenhouse gas emissions than conventional vehicles, even when taking into account the electricity source and the electricity used for battery production.  Assuming the current UK energy mix, battery electric vehicles produce the lowest greenhouse gas emissions of all the energy sources and fuels assessed, irrespective of vehicle type and operation.  As electricity generation is decarbonised the vehicles being driven by electricity are effectively de-carbonised as well.

Hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles also have zero tailpipe emissions.  Like battery electric vehicles, their ‘well-to-wheel’ (the overall assessment of climate change impact) greenhouse gas emissions depend on the method of energy production.

Although the environmental performance of range extended, plug-in, and non-plug-in hybrids depends on their use and zero emission range, these vehicles are amongst the cleanest vehicles on the market and can bring significant environmental benefits.  They are an important way of helping motorists make the switch to a different way of powering their vehicles.

Petrol cars and vans tend to have higher greenhouse gas emissions than their diesel equivalents but significantly lower emissions of NOx.  Real world particulate emissions from petrol cars and vans are variable, with some petrol cars and vans (particularly those with direct injection engines) emitting higher levels of particulates than diesel equivalents.  We expect this to be addressed by the introduction of the Real Driving Emission (RDE) standards.

Cleaner diesel cars and vans can play an important part in reducing CO2 emissions from road transport during the transition to zero emission vehicles whilst meeting ever more stringent air quality standards. RDE has seen a significant reduction in real-world NOx emissions in diesel vehicles meeting those requirements and brings them much closer to petrol equivalents in terms of NOx emissions. Liquid petroleum gas (LPG) vehicles have similar well-to-wheel greenhouse gas emissions as diesel equivalents but generally have lower air pollutant emissions.  Although a niche market, LPG vehicles may be a good current alternative to diesel in urban driving conditions.

There are more than 300,000 ULEVs on UK roads and zero emission vehicles are an attractive option for many consumers today – offering the best environmental performance and in many cases cheaper running costs.  If zero emission technologies are not currently practical options, the most appropriate vehicle technology will depend on individual circumstances, including location and usage pattern.  For cars principally being used in urban areas where journeys tend to be shorter and at slower speeds, petrol hybrid, other alternatively fuelled or new conventional petrol cars are likely to be most suitable.  Diesel is more suitable for cars that regularly drive long distances or carry heavy loads.

To find out more about battery electric and other zero emission vehicles, please visit  This highlights the range of ultra low emission cars on the market today and address myths about driving electric cars, notably cost and range.  With driving costs from 3p a mile and typical driving range now exceeding 150 miles in a pure electric car on a single charge, pure electric vehicles, range extended and plug in hybrid electric vehicles are an ever more attractive alternative to conventionally fuelled cars.  Costs and range are based upon the official WLTP economy and range figures which are obtained from official EU test data. These are intended for comparisons between vehicles and may not reflect real driving results.

EST has also produced a short film covering a range of issues around electric vehicles, running costs, maximising range and recharging:

This covers most of the questions potential buyers may have including charging, range and the cost of fuel (electricity) for the vehicles. They offer a realistic and in-depth review of the viability of electric cars and vans, covering the choice, driving and living with an electric vehicle.