What are the Main Differences Between Electric and ICE Cars? 

Created on
July 13, 2022

ICE vs EV - What you need to know.

Petrol or electric? That decision used to be resigned to lawnmowers, but now it’s something you need to think very carefully about when buying a new car. 

In this quick guide, we’re going to dive face-first into the acronym-heavy world of electric vehicles (EVs) and internal combustion engines (ICE) and discuss the key differences between them. Apart from the obvious - ICEs produce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions that cause pollution and EVs don’t - but there are also some other differences that it’s worth considering before you part with your cash.

Cost

A recent Saga Insurance survey found that most people are serious about switching to electric vehicles, with 72% of men and 65% of women saying they’d consider buying an EV. But one of the biggest factors holding them back is cost. 

The upfront cost of an electric vehicle is around 15% more than an equivalent ICE. The government used to offer a grant that wiped £2,500 and then £1,500 off the purchase price of electric vehicles, but that has recently ended. Instead, grants are now focused on improving EV charging infrastructure, with the EV charging grant covering up to 75% of the cost of installing your own charge point at home.  

But while the upfront cost of an EV is far greater, the ongoing costs are much less. Fully charging an electric car with a typical 60kWh battery at home costs around £15.10 and gives you an average range of around 200 miles. That’s an inflation-busting cost of around 7 pence per mile. Filling an average petrol car costs around £105, giving you up to 500 miles of freedom at 21 pence per mile. 

Electric vehicles are also cheaper to tax and maintain. So, you have to decide whether it’s better to pay more upfront, make savings in the long run and protect the environment with an EV, or buy an ICE that’ll be cheaper upfront, cost more throughout its life and damage the environment. The choice is yours. 

Not sure? Take a look at our EV vs. ICE cost comparison where we’ve done some of the maths for you. 

Traffic pollution and car traffic in Uruguay
Photo by Ezequiel Garrido on Unsplash

Pollution

Road traffic is an enormous polluter and is responsible for 20% of all CO2 emissions in the EU. Petrol and diesel vehicles, which are powered by fossil fuels, create between 1.2 and 1.6 more CO2 than battery-powered electric vehicles, giving them a far bigger carbon footprint. Electric vehicles produce zero emissions while you’re driving, which is fantastic, but that’s not the complete picture.

Production of the lithium-ion batteries that power electric cars emits 1.43 times more CO2 than the production of internal combustion engines. The electricity needed to power EVs can also come from fossil fuels, which is why you should check that you’re using a charging network that’s powered solely by renewable energy. 

However, even with lithium-ion battery production and electricity from fossil fuels factored in, EVs are still responsible for fewer greenhouse gas emissions than ICEs over their lifetime. A study by the International Council on Clean Transportation found that, in Europe, an electric car generates up to 69% less than a petrol car. 

The number of moving parts

From the outside, an electric vehicle looks much like a petrol or diesel-powered vehicle, apart from one key difference - no exhaust pipe. An electric vehicle doesn’t produce any polluting fumes, so there’s no need to sputter them liberally as you go. But on the inside, it’s a completely different story. 

Up to 70% of an electric vehicle’s internal parts are different from a petrol-powered vehicle. That includes the moving parts, with EVs having JUST ONE MOVING PART (sorry for shouting) compared with hundreds of moving parts in ICEs.  

With much less to go wrong, electric vehicles require less periodic maintenance and are more reliable. With many people’s bank accounts currently taking a pounding, that’s definitely a good thing.

Fast vs. Quick

What’s the difference between fast and quick? Dunno? Let us enlighten you. 

One of the main differences between electric vehicles and ICEs is their performance out on the road. On the whole, ICEs are faster than EVs because they can reach a higher maximum speed. However, electric vehicles are quicker than ICEs as they can typically get from A to B in less time, particularly in built-up areas.

That’s because EVs use one gear that provides full torque at all speeds, resulting in instant acceleration. ICEs, on the other hand, lose some of the power they generate to the drivetrain, which connects the transmission to the wheels. So, if you want to zip through the traffic (safely) and get to your destination quickly, an EV is usually the best choice. 

Driving in VW through the snow
Photo by Jaromír Kavan on Unsplash

Variety

When it comes to browsing online or popping to the showroom to choose your next car, ICEs still offer far more choice. As it stands, there are only about 30 battery electric vehicles in the UK to choose from (here are some of the best). More electric vehicle manufacturers are coming to the party all the time and there’s also a growing second-hand EV market, but it’s still early days.

In contrast, there are currently hundreds of petrol and diesel-powered cars for drivers to choose from, making it easier to find a car that’s the right fit for your lifestyle and budget. However, expect to see that shift over the next few years. With some electric vehicles already outselling their ICE equivalents and with the 2030 ban on the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles looming, many manufacturers are already redirecting their resources towards the production of electric cars.  

Range

When we talk about range, we’re referring to the distance a car can travel on a full charge in the case of an EV or a full tank of fuel for an ICE. The average range of an electric vehicle is currently around 200 miles, although this is increasing all the time as EV battery technology improves. The electric vehicles with the longest range can travel over 400 miles on a single charge. 

Currently, that’s still some way short of some petrol and diesel cars, with many ICEs able to travel well over 400 miles on a tank of fuel. However, as we’ve already discussed, although EVs will not take you as far on one charge, they are much cheaper to recharge than refuelling an ICE. 

Uswitch did an interesting comparison of how far an EV and an ICE will take you for £50. For the boffins here at Bonnet, it’s an interesting read - you’ve probably got better things to do.  

Charging Honda E with the Bonnet EV Charging app

Refuelling   

Another big difference between electric cars and petrol cars is the method of refuelling. To ‘refuel’ an electric car, you must plug it into a charge point at home, on a public street, in a charging station or at venues such as restaurants, hotels and shopping centres. 

Depending on the speed of the charger and the size of your EV’s battery, it can take anywhere from 10 hours to 30 minutes to fully recharge your battery. Charging at home overnight can be very convenient and it’s now much easier to find and use public charge points thanks to the growing network of EV charge points and helpful apps like Bonnet!   

Refuelling a petrol or diesel vehicle is a quick and easy process, with an established nationwide network of petrol stations to choose from. However, it’s also an excruciatingly expensive process, with prices at the pumps now enough to make you thump the ground and cry. With the UK now having twice as many EV charge points as petrol stations, there’s never been a better time to switch to electric!

Are electric cars better than petrol cars?

Abso-flipping-lutely. Tonnes better. And if you download the Bonnet app, you can enjoy easy flat-rate charging on the leading networks across the UK. And you’ll be saving the planet, too.   

July 13, 2022

ICE vs EV - What you need to know.

Petrol or electric? That decision used to be resigned to lawnmowers, but now it’s something you need to think very carefully about when buying a new car. 

In this quick guide, we’re going to dive face-first into the acronym-heavy world of electric vehicles (EVs) and internal combustion engines (ICE) and discuss the key differences between them. Apart from the obvious - ICEs produce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions that cause pollution and EVs don’t - but there are also some other differences that it’s worth considering before you part with your cash.

Cost

A recent Saga Insurance survey found that most people are serious about switching to electric vehicles, with 72% of men and 65% of women saying they’d consider buying an EV. But one of the biggest factors holding them back is cost. 

The upfront cost of an electric vehicle is around 15% more than an equivalent ICE. The government used to offer a grant that wiped £2,500 and then £1,500 off the purchase price of electric vehicles, but that has recently ended. Instead, grants are now focused on improving EV charging infrastructure, with the EV charging grant covering up to 75% of the cost of installing your own charge point at home.  

But while the upfront cost of an EV is far greater, the ongoing costs are much less. Fully charging an electric car with a typical 60kWh battery at home costs around £15.10 and gives you an average range of around 200 miles. That’s an inflation-busting cost of around 7 pence per mile. Filling an average petrol car costs around £105, giving you up to 500 miles of freedom at 21 pence per mile. 

Electric vehicles are also cheaper to tax and maintain. So, you have to decide whether it’s better to pay more upfront, make savings in the long run and protect the environment with an EV, or buy an ICE that’ll be cheaper upfront, cost more throughout its life and damage the environment. The choice is yours. 

Not sure? Take a look at our EV vs. ICE cost comparison where we’ve done some of the maths for you. 

Traffic pollution and car traffic in Uruguay
Photo by Ezequiel Garrido on Unsplash

Pollution

Road traffic is an enormous polluter and is responsible for 20% of all CO2 emissions in the EU. Petrol and diesel vehicles, which are powered by fossil fuels, create between 1.2 and 1.6 more CO2 than battery-powered electric vehicles, giving them a far bigger carbon footprint. Electric vehicles produce zero emissions while you’re driving, which is fantastic, but that’s not the complete picture.

Production of the lithium-ion batteries that power electric cars emits 1.43 times more CO2 than the production of internal combustion engines. The electricity needed to power EVs can also come from fossil fuels, which is why you should check that you’re using a charging network that’s powered solely by renewable energy. 

However, even with lithium-ion battery production and electricity from fossil fuels factored in, EVs are still responsible for fewer greenhouse gas emissions than ICEs over their lifetime. A study by the International Council on Clean Transportation found that, in Europe, an electric car generates up to 69% less than a petrol car. 

The number of moving parts

From the outside, an electric vehicle looks much like a petrol or diesel-powered vehicle, apart from one key difference - no exhaust pipe. An electric vehicle doesn’t produce any polluting fumes, so there’s no need to sputter them liberally as you go. But on the inside, it’s a completely different story. 

Up to 70% of an electric vehicle’s internal parts are different from a petrol-powered vehicle. That includes the moving parts, with EVs having JUST ONE MOVING PART (sorry for shouting) compared with hundreds of moving parts in ICEs.  

With much less to go wrong, electric vehicles require less periodic maintenance and are more reliable. With many people’s bank accounts currently taking a pounding, that’s definitely a good thing.

Fast vs. Quick

What’s the difference between fast and quick? Dunno? Let us enlighten you. 

One of the main differences between electric vehicles and ICEs is their performance out on the road. On the whole, ICEs are faster than EVs because they can reach a higher maximum speed. However, electric vehicles are quicker than ICEs as they can typically get from A to B in less time, particularly in built-up areas.

That’s because EVs use one gear that provides full torque at all speeds, resulting in instant acceleration. ICEs, on the other hand, lose some of the power they generate to the drivetrain, which connects the transmission to the wheels. So, if you want to zip through the traffic (safely) and get to your destination quickly, an EV is usually the best choice. 

Driving in VW through the snow
Photo by Jaromír Kavan on Unsplash

Variety

When it comes to browsing online or popping to the showroom to choose your next car, ICEs still offer far more choice. As it stands, there are only about 30 battery electric vehicles in the UK to choose from (here are some of the best). More electric vehicle manufacturers are coming to the party all the time and there’s also a growing second-hand EV market, but it’s still early days.

In contrast, there are currently hundreds of petrol and diesel-powered cars for drivers to choose from, making it easier to find a car that’s the right fit for your lifestyle and budget. However, expect to see that shift over the next few years. With some electric vehicles already outselling their ICE equivalents and with the 2030 ban on the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles looming, many manufacturers are already redirecting their resources towards the production of electric cars.  

Range

When we talk about range, we’re referring to the distance a car can travel on a full charge in the case of an EV or a full tank of fuel for an ICE. The average range of an electric vehicle is currently around 200 miles, although this is increasing all the time as EV battery technology improves. The electric vehicles with the longest range can travel over 400 miles on a single charge. 

Currently, that’s still some way short of some petrol and diesel cars, with many ICEs able to travel well over 400 miles on a tank of fuel. However, as we’ve already discussed, although EVs will not take you as far on one charge, they are much cheaper to recharge than refuelling an ICE. 

Uswitch did an interesting comparison of how far an EV and an ICE will take you for £50. For the boffins here at Bonnet, it’s an interesting read - you’ve probably got better things to do.  

Charging Honda E with the Bonnet EV Charging app

Refuelling   

Another big difference between electric cars and petrol cars is the method of refuelling. To ‘refuel’ an electric car, you must plug it into a charge point at home, on a public street, in a charging station or at venues such as restaurants, hotels and shopping centres. 

Depending on the speed of the charger and the size of your EV’s battery, it can take anywhere from 10 hours to 30 minutes to fully recharge your battery. Charging at home overnight can be very convenient and it’s now much easier to find and use public charge points thanks to the growing network of EV charge points and helpful apps like Bonnet!   

Refuelling a petrol or diesel vehicle is a quick and easy process, with an established nationwide network of petrol stations to choose from. However, it’s also an excruciatingly expensive process, with prices at the pumps now enough to make you thump the ground and cry. With the UK now having twice as many EV charge points as petrol stations, there’s never been a better time to switch to electric!

Are electric cars better than petrol cars?

Abso-flipping-lutely. Tonnes better. And if you download the Bonnet app, you can enjoy easy flat-rate charging on the leading networks across the UK. And you’ll be saving the planet, too.   

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