Diesel v petrol v electric: How far can you go on £5?

When it comes to electric, diesel or petrol, you might not care about the g/km or kWh. But how far will £5 get you with each power source?

How far will a £5 get you?The question over what fuel type should power your next car can get confusing. From grams per kilometre, to NOx, to CO2, understanding the best fuel for our cars is a tall order.

Adding to the confusion is electric cars. If you can’t tell the difference between a kilowatt and a kilobyte (the latter is a measurement of digital file sizes), a different way of comparing is needed.

So here’s a comparison in language everyone can understand. How far can you go on five pounds?

How far can you go on £5?

How far will a £5 get you?

Carwow has compared exactly how far you can get on £5, in terms of petrol, diesel, electricity, and indeed public transport.

The car buying platform established the average costs of each by comparing fuel and public transport costs in 10 of the UK’s major cities. Figures for respective variants of the Volkswagen Golf were used. What did the researchers find?

Leading the way is electric. Charge your electric car to the value of £5, and you’ll go 102 miles on average. That’s good news for the 35 percent of Brits who say their biggest worry is getting stranded in an electric car.

Just as the cost of a litre of petrol varies from station to station, so too can the cost of electricity – often far more so. The methodology uses ‘regional electricity prices’ to establish price per KWH, combining that with the Golf’s distance driven per kWh to establish the per-£5 mileage value.

Compare that to second-placed diesel, and you’re nearly DOUBLING your distance. Put in £5 of diesel and on average, you’ll go around 56.5 miles.

Things get worse from there for petrol, the train and the bus. On average, £5 takes you 49.6 miles in a petrol car, 20 miles on a train and just 12.6 miles via bus.

How far will a £5 get you?

“Some people might be surprised to see that you can travel pretty much double the distance in an electric car than you can with diesel or petrol, but you can’t argue with the data,” said Mat Watson of Carwow.

“That said, ‘range anxiety’ is understandable, particularly as the main battery operated tech the average person will be familiar with is the mobile phone. The good news is there are already more charging stations than petrol stations in the UK, a fact almost half of the country (49 percent) are unaware of.

“Undoubtedly more needs to be done when it comes to educating people about electric cars, their benefits and their feasibility.”

Electric car charging winners and losers

Watson conceded the decision to buy an alternative fuel vehicle will be a personal one, based on where you live and how much local investment there has been to charging infrastructure. “The roll-out has not been even,” but progress is being made.

“We hope our findings will help, because it really does seem that in years to come, we could be together in electric dreams.”

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Ethan Jupp
I'm Content Editor at MR. Road trips music and movies are my vices. Perennially stuck between French hot hatches and Australian muscle cars.


  1. Typical electric car consumption is about 300Whr/mile. Peak rate electricity is ~15p per kWhr, so that equates to 4.5p per mile, not far off the £5 for 102 miles as quoted. However, charge at an off-peak overnight rate of ~5p/kWhr then it’s £5 for over 300miles.

    Although there are more charging stations than petrol stations, each petrol station has more than one pump. In addition, charging does take longer than filing a fuel tank. On the other hand, for many journeys charging can be carried out at home or the destination. I spend very little time ‘refilling’ my car – I simply plug it in at night when parked – avoiding entirely the weekly glance at the petrol gauge and expensive visit to the filling station.


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