Types of Vehicles Based on Fuel Used

Owe it to the increased environment regulations or customer expectations on fuel economy, many car models based on different fuel types are in vogue today. Also, the increased ratings and tax incentives given to cars by federal agencies such as the EPA and U.S. Department of Energy based on performance and fuel economy, have further made it necessary for buyers to be aware of the various fuel specifications available.

Here’s a list of different types of cars based on which fuel type they use.

The majority of the present day vehicles run with the help of internal combustion engines that are powered by gasoline, or petrol. Gasoline is the most commonly used fuel for vehicles, as it is easily available. A gasoline-powered engine takes off by igniting the fuel using a spark plug. These ensure smooth running and react promptly to your acceleration demand. Gasoline cars require less maintenance and are well suited for regular use. On the other hand, these vehicles have lower torque at lower speeds, are less fuel efficient, and release harmful emissions into the air.

Increasing petroleum prices and, in turn, gasoline prices, have led to an increased consumer demand for diesel vehicles. Compared to gasoline cars, diesel ones have a self-ignition property, higher torque, better acceleration, higher compression ratio, high pulling power, high thermal efficiency, and low horse power.

These vehicles ensure fuel economy (30-35% more fuel efficient than gasoline), longevity, and increased efficiency. The invention of ultra low-sulfur diesel fuel has reduced the harmful emissions of diesel cars. The diesel itself being a good lubricant reduces the wear and tear of engine components, hence reducing maintenance needs.

CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) and LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) are the cleanest burning and least expensive alternative fuels for gasoline. The availability of these vehicles and also the fuels haven’t truly started to grow, though. Few vehicles are purely dedicated to these fuel types, whereas some others (bi-fuel vehicles) work in combination with gasoline. Still, a gasoline or diesel fuel engine can, in fact, be retrofitted to run with CNG or LPG. These fuels provide better mileage, reduce the wear and tear of the engine, and decrease harmful emissions.

Environment Friendly
Environmentally friendly or ‘green’ vehicles have become widely available and popular over the last decade. These are powered by advanced technologies and alternative fuels. A few included in this category are Hybrids, Bio-fuel cars, and electric cars.

Hybrids are powered by two types of fuel combinations – gasoline and electricity, and are flexible to switch between these two power sources as per the requirement. The gasoline engine kicks in for higher speeds and longer distances, while the electric engine operates for lower speeds and short distances.

Hybrids are of two types – Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs) and Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs). The regenerative braking system, electric motor drive/vehicle assistance, and automatic start/shut off system make hybrid vehicles fuel efficient, powerful, and environmentally-friendly.

Cars powered by green fuels – bio-diesel and bio-ethanol – are cleaner alternatives to gasoline. These fuels are non-toxic, bio-degradable, safe, and highly expensive. They can be used purely or in combination with diesel or gasoline.

Bio-Diesel: Produced from vegetable oils and animal fats, this fuel (when used) reduces harmful emissions. Most of the newer diesel vehicles support the usage of blends up to B5 (5% of bio-diesel and 95% regular diesel). Manufacturers do not offer a warranty on vehicles more than this since higher blends such as B100 (100% bio-diesel) and B20 produce lower fuel economy and power.

Bio-Ethanol: Bio-ethanol, which is produced from starch crops or green plants, is the green variant of gasoline. Bio-ethanol offers the benefits of increased resistance to engine knock and lower emissions of pollutants. E10 (10% bio-ethanol, 90% gasoline) and E85 (85% ethanol) are the popular blends available.

The availability of these bio-fuel green cars is quite limited. Today not many car manufacturers offer support for using these fuels, and unsupported usage may incur problems that do not fall under the warranty.

The latest advancements in automotive technology are vehicles designed to run entirely on electricity. They have no tailpipe, hence zero emissions. Instead of internal combustion engines (ICEs), they are equipped with electric motors which are powered by the rechargeable battery packs (to be recharged by plugging into 120 or 240 volt outlets).

While the costs of an electric vehicle average slightly higher than a gasoline one, the benefits incurred will outweigh them. These cars are energy efficient. They convert 75% of the chemical energy from batteries into power, whereas ICEs only convert 20% of gasoline into power. They also require less maintenance and have superior performance benefits – noiseless, smooth operation and stronger acceleration. Some drawbacks of electric cars include low driving range, high recharge time, high battery cost, and regular replacement of batteries.

As a car buyer, it’s always recommended to consider the cost of a car, cost of fuel, availability of fuel, mileage and running costs, insurance and maintenance costs while also weighing the advantages of each option.