What makes a car more economical?

Whether you’re choosing a new car or just looking for ways to save money while driving, it’s important to understand what makes some cars more economical than others. This article explains what makes a car cheaper or more expensive to run – and how to get the most cost-efficient journeys from your vehicle.

We’re all looking for ways to save money when running our car. The Motability Scheme has a wide range of affordable choices, but what is it that makes a car more ‘economical’ than others?

In this article, we look at the main factors that affect how economical a car is, including: 

  • The size and weight of a car
  • The fuel or energy a car uses
  • The best ways to drive economically
  • How technology can help make your car more economical

Choosing a cost-effective car for your needs

Firstly, let’s look at some of the things to consider when choosing a new car.

What size of car do you need?  

The size of a car significantly affects how economical it is to run. A small hatchback will use less fuel than a large SUV, because it weighs less and requires less energy to move through the air. It’s important to decide what size of car best suits your needs, but even within each vehicle type you can find some choices that are more economical than others.

The type of engine

Today we have petrol, diesel, hybrid and electric vehicles to choose from. The higher cost of diesel means that a model running on this fuel only makes sense if you cover a high mileage. If you are conscious of how much you’ll need to spend at the fuel station, consider choosing a petrol or hybrid car instead. For the most cost-effective option, you can’t beat the low cost of running an electric car. Motability Scheme customers also benefit from our electric vehicle charging support.

The figures

When you’re browsing for a new car, you’ll find it very useful to look at the fuel efficiency figures. In the case of petrol and diesel cars, this will be in miles-per-gallon (MPG). The higher the number, the further you can drive on a single tank of fuel. If you opt for an electric vehicle (EV), this is shown differently – either as miles per kilowatt-hour (kWh), or kilowatt-hours (kWh) per 100km. Again, the higher the number, the better.

How can you drive more economically?

There are lots of things you can do to save money and fuel while driving – the Motability Scheme has a whole article just focusing on that. But there are a few key things you should always keep in mind:

Saving fuel saves you money

Certain journeys will require more fuel than others – and it isn’t just about how far you’re travelling. Driving in towns or cities means more traffic, and as a result, higher fuel consumption for petrol and diesel models. A hybrid might run in electric mode in town which will help save you money, and battery-electric vehicles (pure EVs) can gain energy by using the brakes to boost the batteries.

When planning your journeys, try to choose routes that will have less traffic if possible – even if a route covers more miles, it may still be more fuel-efficient if there’s less congestion.

Think about your driving style

The way you drive also affects your fuel consumption. Acceleration typically uses more fuel or energy, so being gentle with the accelerator is one of the easiest ways to drive economically. Likewise, if you brake slowly and in a good amount of time, you may be able to keep the car rolling rather than stopping and starting – this will also help you save on fuel.

Keep the pressure up

Keeping your tyres at the correct pressure means you car will use less fuel. This will also ensure your tyres last longer, which not only saves money but is better for the environment.

Can technology help me drive more economically?

Many modern cars come equipped with technology that can help you drive more smoothly and safely – this can also have benefits for the amount of fuel your vehicle uses.

Stop/start system

Cars with a stop/start system will turn off the engine when you are idling, for example when you are stopped at a traffic light. This will save you fuel and also reduce your emissions.

Cruise control

The cruise control system has always been useful for making long drives more relaxing, but it can also save fuel – especially on motorways. Your car will always choose the best gear to be in to maintain the speed you have selected, ensuring the engine is running at its most efficient.

Economical navigation

Many modern car navigation systems have the option to choose the most economical route. This is especially useful in electric cars if you are worried about recharging your vehicle on the go.

Driving modes

Many cars on the Scheme will have the option to choose between different driving modes. Selecting ‘Eco’ means that the car’s computer will make sure the engine or electric motor (and their systems) run as economically as possible.

Whichever car you choose from the Motability Scheme, if you want to get the best efficiency from it, it’s worth looking at its trip computer. This will give you your fuel consumption figure and how much longer you can drive before you need to refuel or recharge. Some cars even turn this into a challenge or a game, so it’s not only economical but also a bit of fun.

Overall, there are many benefits to having a more economical car and driving it more efficiently. By following the simple tips outlined above, you can lower your car’s running costs and keep the extra change to spend it on something else.

Related articles

10 tips for keeping your car in good condition

What is a hybrid car and is it right for you?

Diesel cars vs petrol vs hybrid: what are the pros and cons

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