A petrol and EV racing down the road

What should you buy next: Electric Car vs Petrol Car

In recent years, the Indian automotive market has witnessed a surge in the popularity of electric vehicles, with a staggering 1.53 million EV sales in 2023 alone. As more and more consumers consider making the switch from traditional petrol cars to electric alternatives, a common dilemma arises: should one opt for an electric car, stick with a petrol-powered vehicle, or find a middle ground with a hybrid? This question of electric cars vs petrol cars is on the minds of many potential car buyers in India.

We understand the complexities of this decision and aim to provide a comprehensive analysis of the key differences, pros and cons of each option. By exploring factors such as cost, performance, environmental impact and infrastructure, we will help you navigate this choice and make an informed decision that best suits your needs.

Table of Contents

Difference Between Electric Cars and Petrol Cars

When considering the choice between an electric vehicle (EV) and a petrol car, it’s essential to understand the fundamental differences between these two types of vehicles, as well as the role of hybrids in bridging the gap.

Here’s a breakdown of each:

  • Electric Cars (EVs): EVs or eco-friendly cars, are powered entirely by electricity stored in rechargeable batteries. They convert electrical energy into kinetic energy, producing zero tailpipe emissions. EVs are known for their instant torque, silent operation, and lower running costs. Fun fact: India’s first electric car was the Reva, launched in 2001.
  • Petrol Cars: Petrol cars, the traditional choice for Indian consumers, are powered by internal combustion engines that run on fossil fuels like petrol or diesel. When comparing EV vs Petrol cars, it’s important to note that petrol cars offer longer driving ranges and faster refuelling times but emit harmful pollutants and have higher fuel costs.
  • Hybrid Cars: Hybrids combine the best of both worlds, featuring both an electric motor and a petrol engine. They can operate on electricity alone for short distances and switch to petrol for longer journeys. Hybrids offer improved fuel efficiency and lower emissions compared to conventional petrol cars while providing the convenience of petrol-powered vehicles.

As the Indian government pushes for a greener future, the debate between electric cars and petrol cars intensifies. By understanding the core differences between these vehicle types, Indian consumers can make informed decisions based on their priorities, such as environmental impact, running costs, and driving range.

Feature Electric Car Petrol Car
Fuel Source
Electricity
Petrol
Running Cost
Generally Lower (Lower fuel & maintenance costs)
Generally Higher (Higher fuel & maintenance costs)
Fuel Efficiency
Measured in kWh/km
Measured in Kilometres per Litre (kmpl)
Emissions
No Tailpipe Emissions
Significant Tailpipe Emissions (CO2, NOx, Hydrocarbons)
Maintenance
Lower (Fewer moving parts)
Higher (Regular engine & transmission maintenance)
Government Incentives
Eligible for FAME-II Subsidies (Reduces upfront cost)
No Government Incentives on Purchase
Charging Infrastructure
Growing Network (Planning long trips might require strategy)
Widely Available Petrol Stations
Driving Range
Limited on a Single Charge (Improving with Battery Technology)
Longer Range on a Full Tank
Performance
Often Quicker Acceleration (Instant Electric Motor Torque)
Performance varies based on Engine Capacity
Upfront Cost
Generally Higher (But FAME-II subsidies can help)
Generally Lower
Insurance Cost
Currently Slightly Higher (Newer technology)
Lower (Mature technology)
Resale Value
Currently Lower (But expected to improve)
Generally Higher

Pros & Cons of Electric Cars

When considering the adoption of electric cars in India, it’s crucial to weigh the pros and cons to make an informed decision. Here are some key advantages and disadvantages of electric vehicles:

Pros:

  • Lower running costs due to cheaper electricity compared to petrol or diesel
  • Reduced environmental impact with zero tailpipe emissions, contributing to cleaner air in Indian cities
  • Lower maintenance costs due to fewer moving parts and no need for regular oil changes
  • Government incentives and subsidies for EV buyers, making them more affordable
  • Instant torque and smooth acceleration provide a pleasurable driving experience

Cons:

  • Higher upfront costs compared to petrol cars, which can be a barrier for many Indian consumers
  • Limited driving range on a single charge, which may cause range anxiety for long-distance travel
  • Inadequate charging infrastructure across India, making it challenging to plan long trips
  • Longer charging times compared to refuelling petrol cars, requiring a change in driving habits
  • Dependence on the electric grid, which may not be entirely clean or reliable in all parts of India

We believe that while electric cars have their advantages, it’s essential for Indian buyers to carefully consider their specific needs and the current limitations of EVs before making a decision.

Pros & Cons of Petrol Cars

When evaluating the options to buy an electric car in India or a petrol car, it’s equally important to consider the pros and cons of the latter too, which have long been the preferred choice for Indian consumers. Here are some advantages and disadvantages of petrol-powered vehicles:

Pros:

  • Longer driving ranges compared to electric cars, allowing for extended trips without frequent refuelling
  • Faster refuelling times, taking only a few minutes to fill up the tank at widely available petrol stations
  • Lower upfront costs than electric vehicles, making them more accessible to a wider range of Indian buyers
  • Extensive service network and trained mechanics, ensuring easy maintenance and repairs
  • A wide variety of models are available across different price points and segments, catering to diverse preferences

Cons:

  • Higher running costs due to the rising prices of petrol and diesel in India
  • Significant environmental impact with tailpipe emissions, contributing to air pollution in Indian cities
  • Higher maintenance costs compared to electric cars, with regular oil changes and engine tune-ups
  • Dependence on fossil fuels, which are non-renewable and subject to price fluctuations
  • Increasing government regulations on emissions and fuel efficiency may impact the long-term viability of petrol cars

While we recognise that petrol cars offer convenience and familiarity, the growing concerns over environmental impact and rising fuel costs are compelling reasons to consider the switch to electric vehicles in India.

Cost Comparison: Electric Cars vs. Petrol Cars - Who Wins?

When comparing the costs of electric cars and petrol cars in India, it’s essential to consider both the upfront expenses and the long-term ownership costs. While electric vehicles (EVs) are often more expensive to purchase initially, they can offer significant savings in the form of lower running and maintenance costs, making them an attractive option for those seeking a low-maintenance car.

Let’s take a closer look at the cost comparison of an average SUV, which is available in both petrol and electric variants:

Particulars SUV EV Variant SUV Petrol Variant
On-road Price (Delhi)
₹16.5 lakhs*
₹8.9 lakhs*
Car Insurance Costs
₹70,000^
₹42,000
Fuel Efficiency/Range
453 km/charge
17 kmpl
Maintenance Costs (Annual)
₹4,000
₹8,000

*Approx. price of the SUV

^Often included in the on-road price

Assuming an annual mileage of 10,000 km and an electricity cost of ₹7 per unit, the EV variant would consume approximately 662 units of electricity, costing ₹4,634 per year in fuel expenses. In contrast, the petrol variant, with an average fuel price of ₹100 per litre, would consume approximately 590 litres of petrol, costing ₹59,000 annually.

Annual Costs SUV EV Variant SUV Petrol Variant
Fuel Costs
Rs. 4,634
Rs. 59,000
Maintenance Costs
Rs. 4,000
Rs. 8,000
Total Annual Costs
Rs. 8,634
Rs. 67,000

As the table illustrates, while the EV has a higher upfront cost, its annual running and maintenance expenses are significantly lower compared to its petrol counterpart. Over the long term, these savings can offset the initial price difference, making electric cars an increasingly viable option for Indian consumers.

Electric vehicle owners may need to factor in the cost of battery replacement after a few years of usage. Car manufacturers in India typically offer a standard warranty of three years or 1.25 lakh kilometres (whichever comes earlier) on their SUV EV models. These vehicles often come with either a 40.5kWh or a 30kWh battery pack, with the larger battery providing an approximate driving range of 435 km and the smaller one offering around 325 km on a single charge. At the current industry rate of approximately ₹11,100 per kWh, replacing the battery of an EV SUV could cost anywhere between ₹3.33 lakh to ₹4.43 lakh, depending on the battery capacity. While this expense may seem significant, it’s crucial to consider the long-term savings on fuel and maintenance costs when evaluating the overall ownership costs of an electric vehicle in India.

What does the future hold?

As we look towards the future of the Indian automotive industry, it’s clear that electric vehicles are set to play an increasingly significant role. The Indian government has set ambitious targets for EV adoption, aiming to achieve 30% electric vehicle sales by 2030. This push towards electrification is driven by a combination of factors, including the need to reduce air pollution, combat climate change, and decrease dependence on imported fossil fuels.

However, this transition will not happen overnight, and petrol cars will likely remain a crucial part of Indian roads for the foreseeable future. As infrastructure for charging improves and battery technology advances, the adoption of EVs will become more widespread. Simultaneously, petrol cars are expected to become more fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly, with stricter emission norms and the adoption of cleaner technologies like hybrid powertrains.

Ultimately, the future of the Indian automotive market will be shaped by a mix of electric, petrol, and hybrid vehicles, catering to the diverse needs and preferences of Indian consumers. As experts in the field, we anticipate a gradual but steady shift towards cleaner, greener, and more sustainable modes of transportation in India.

Are EVs difficult to maintain

When it comes to maintaining electric vehicles (EVs), there are several factors to consider:

  • EVs have fewer moving parts compared to petrol cars, which generally means lower maintenance requirements.
  • This can result in cost savings over the life of the vehicle.
  • However, EV owners should still invest in regular car detailing services to keep their vehicles looking pristine.
  • Services like PPF coating (paint protection film) and ceramic coating can help protect the car’s exterior from scratches, chips, and environmental damage.
  • The battery is the most critical component in an EV, and it requires special attention.
  • Regular charging habits and avoiding extreme temperatures can help extend the battery’s lifespan.
  • In India, the hot climate may necessitate extra care to prevent battery degradation.
  • While EV maintenance is generally simpler, finding qualified technicians and sourcing spare parts can be a challenge in India, as the EV ecosystem is still developing.
  • This may lead to longer waiting times and higher costs for repairs compared to petrol cars.

Overall, EVs are not inherently difficult to maintain, but they do require a different approach compared to traditional petrol vehicles. As the Indian EV market matures, we expect to see an increase in skilled technicians and a wider availability of parts and services, making EV maintenance even more straightforward and accessible.

Some concluding thoughts

The Indian electric car market is evolving rapidly, offering a wider range of choices and improved infrastructure. With careful consideration of your needs and the factors mentioned above, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your budget and environmental values.

Whether you choose an electric car or a petrol car, always ensure you get a PPF (paint protection film) or ceramic coating to protect your car from scratches, UV rays and environmental damage. These services, offered by professional car detailing studios like CarzSpa, can significantly enhance the appearance and longevity of your car’s paintwork.

At CarzSpa Detailing Studios, over 90 of them across India, offer car detailing services, intensive interior cleaning and PPF installation on all types of cars, petrol, EVs and Hybrids.

This blog has provided a comprehensive overview of electric cars vs. petrol cars. It’s time to make an informed decision and embark on your sustainable driving journey!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How long does it take to charge an electric car?
Charging times vary depending on the battery size, charger type and car model. Home charging typically takes longer (overnight) compared to fast charging stations that can replenish the battery in under an hour.

2. What are the government incentives for buying electric cars in India?
The Indian government offers various schemes like FAME-II (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles) that provide subsidies on electric car purchases, reducing the upfront cost.

3. Is it safe to drive an electric car in rain or water?
Electric cars are designed to withstand rain and water exposure. Their high-voltage components are securely sealed to prevent short circuits.

4. What is the resale value of electric cars?
The resale value of electric cars is currently lower compared to petrol cars. However, as the EV market matures and battery technology advances, this trend is expected to change.

5. Can I apply PPF on an electric car?
Yes, PPF can be applied to electric cars and petrol cars. Paint protection can be done irrespective of the car variant.

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Deepam Sama

Deepam Sama is the Vice President of Business Strategy and Development at CarzSpa Detailing Studios, a leading car care company in India. He is a second-generation entrepreneur who has a passion for scaling up businesses and creating innovative marketing strategies. Deepam holds an MBA in Marketing from Symbiosis Institute of Business Management, Pune and a BBA from the Institute of Management, Nirma University. He previously worked in the Sales Strategy team at ICICI Prudential Life Insurance, where he gained experience in developing and executing growth plans.

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