What Power Plant Should You Be Driving?

March 1, 2023

With the push for renewable energy and better fuel efficiency, there is a slew of fuel and power options to drive your vehicle. From the classic gasoline internal combustion engine that we are all familiar with, to the less popular hydrogen fuel cell and everything in between, new technologies are pushing the envelope in terms of how we get from A to B. Each option comes with its own set of pros and cons that we will cover so you, the customer, are familiarized with each and can make the right fuel choice for you.

Our first option is by far the most popular and has been used pretty well since the first car rolled onto the streets.


I won’t spend too much time telling you what you already know since gasoline is by far the most common fuel in use on our roads today, and has been for the last century. The petrol is burned in the cylinder of the internal combustion engine (ICE), creating a continuous series of controlled explosion that drive the pistons. While the efficiency of ICEs has come along by leaps and bounds, they still emit greenhouse gasses when in use, making them a notable burden to the environment. On top of the ecological cost to driving a gas powered car, fuel prices have been on a steady incline since the 80s, meaning the savings from a more efficient engine may be soaked up by the rising gas prices before the vehicle is paid off.


Another fuel that utilizes a variation of the internal combustion engine, diesel fuel finds much of its use in industrial engines where more torque is necessary. Diesel doesn’t ignite in the same way that gasoline does. Instead of using a live spark to initiate combustion like a gasoline engine, diesel engines compress the air before injecting the fuel, which then ignites. This difference in ignition systems allows diesel to produce more power from each cylinder. Diesel is also a more efficient fuel, however that increased range comes with some trade-offs. Because diesel is a denser and more oily fuel, the emissions from it tend to be harsher and contain more soot than gas. While the amount of CO is comparable to petrol engines, the compression process in diesel engines creates more nitrogen oxides which are toxic. Historically, diesel has been cheaper to buy than gas, but that has changed over the last few years as the US and China have ramped up construction and more diesel daily drivers have hit the market place.

Hydrogen Fuel Cell

Hydrogen fuel cells have been around since the 1960s, but have been slow to catch on. They are a sort of a misnomer since the hydrogen gas used isn’t a fuel in the same sense that petrol based engines require. Instead, the hydrogen gas is used to create electricity in a fashion closer to that of a battery. Hydrogen atoms enter the fuel cell by means of a positive terminal. The hydrogen atoms are ionized by using a membrane and a solution called an electrolyte, which essentially strip the electrons from the nuclei. The ionized nuclei cross the electrolyte solution and the electrons go around, creating the electricity used to run the vehicle. The only byproduct of this chemical reaction is crystal clear water that drips from your tailpipe. This sounds like the perfect solution to our oil-addicted roadways, but there’s a catch - hydrogen, while able to be made from water, requires electricity to make, and is only about a fifth as energy dense as gasoline. On top of the inefficient means of creating and using the energy, having a tank of compressed hydrogen gas is a major safety risk in the case of collisions. On top of the risks associated with it, the infrastructure to support a shift to fuel cells just isn’t in place yet, but that is changing slowly.

Liquid Propane

Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG), known more commonly as propane or autogas, is the world’s third most common fuel. Used extensively in Europe and Asia, propane has proven itself reliable in high mileage industries such as couriers and taxis. Again, using a spark ignited internal combustion engine, LPG offers a number of benefits over standard gasoline. Still a petrol product, LPG burns cleaner than oilier gasoline and diesel engines since there is no sulphur in the compound. This cleaner burning fuel also keeps your engine running longer since there is less build-up of carbon on the moving parts. There is a trade off however. LPG only gets about 75% of the fuel economy as its petrol cousins, which offsets some of the savings of buying a cheaper fuel. The other hesitation that people often have about shifting to LPG is the fear of catastrophic failure of the tank in a collision. Fortunately, vehicle-based tanks are rated to a higher standard, making them less likely to rupture during a collision than gas or diesel tanks.


Biofuels are derived from biological processes, such as anaerobic digestion, instead of the geologic processes that form fossil fuels. Biofuels can be derived directly from plants, but also from agricultural, commercial and industrial wastes. The most common biofuel on the market right now is ethanol made from fermented plants, usually corn or soy, and is often added to gasoline to reduce emissions and increase the octane of the fuel (the compression level the fuel can reach before combusting), so you’re almost guaranteed to be using at least a little of this eco-friendlier fuel. Ethanol isn’t the only biofuel on the market, however. Biodiesel is also available and is often added to diesel fuel for the same reason. While biofuels will work in appropriate engines(ie, don’t run biodiesel through your gas engine), most manufacturers aren’t too keen to have a different fuels in engines that were designed for petrol. If you are concerned about potential damages from a higher temp or compression fuel, there are conversion kits available to really open up your fuel options.

At the moment, there isn’t much in the way of biofuel stations for filling up. Instead, the industry has essentially relegated biofuels to additive status to dilute the pollution of traditional petrol fuels.

Battery Electric

Battery Electric vehicles (EV) are exactly what they sound like - vehicles that run off a battery. While the field of all electrics is fairly sparse at the moment, car companies are making announcements about their latest EV breakthrough on a nearly weekly basis. Depending on the vehicle you drive, the range can be anywhere from fifty to three hundred miles on a full charge. Small electrics with low range have become popular in dense urban areas in both Asia and Europe since they are dependable, cheaper to run and more eco friendly than equivalent gas vehicles. The lack of moving parts give EVs an edge in reliability over any other powertrain, though they can be far more costly to fix should something go wrong.

Range anxiety aside, current charging limitations can take as long as overnight or as quick as a half hour to get you back to 80%, depending on the system you use. While more infrastructure is currently being installed, charging stations tend to pop up as a service to customers in the parking lots of businesses. You may be levied a small flat rate to charge depending on where you plug in, but generally the service tends to be free. Unfortunately, EVs come with a fairly steep investment cost. Comparable gas models are priced thousands less, plus it is almost a requirement to install a higher capacity plug in your garage, unless you want to wait a week to charge your car from a standard wall outlet.


Hybrid vehicles have taken the auto scene by storm in recent years. By definition, a hybrid vehicle is equipped with both an electric drivetrain and petrol engine which is used to run a generator for charging the batteries. There are two types of hybrid on the market today: plug-in electric or conventional hybrids. Conventional hybrids exclusively use the gas generator to charge the batteries, while plug-in models do just that - they plug in to charge your batteries and provide further fuel savings. Hybrids tend to have a larger range than both pure electric and gas models since they have their own charging platform built in and the generator sips fuel compared to a dedicated driving engine. While they cost more, the fuel savings of going with a hybrid over petrol engine often return the investment before the warranty period is over.

Now that you have a better understanding of what fuel and power plants are available, go out there and make the best decision for you.