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Petrol/Diesel Economy Comparison – The Definitive Guide


Well, I’m back to being stuck again at the age old question – Which car is better for me, petrol or diesel? In spite of my previous post detailing the comparison between the two variants on a given date, I was confused when I asked the same question this time around, given the changing fuel prices and the better mileage provided by the new cars. So, I decided to roll up my sleeves and come up with a simple timeless equation that could be used at any time. Here you go. Enjoy!

The equation

The point of comparison that I’ve chosen to use is something I call the Breakeven Distance, i.e., the minimum number of kilometers I have to drive a diesel car in order to compensate the initial extra amount I’ve paid for the diesel variant (usually,  1-1.5 lakh rupees). It’s well-known that for people who don’t drive much, diesel cars don’t provide a lot of value (economically), but by how much? Let’s get into the equation

Initial difference in cost between Petrol and Diesel Variants = I
Price of Petrol = Pp
Price of Diesel = Pd
Mileage of Petrol variant = Mp
Mileage of Diesel variant = Md
Cost per km in a petrol variant = Pp / Mp
Cost per km in a diesel variant = Pd / Md
Breakeven distance (B) = I / ((Pp/Mp) - (Pd/Md))

Note that I haven’t taken into account the service and maintenance cost of both variants. Diesel is typically higher. So, the above equation gives the minimum distance you have to drive your diesel car before you start seeing the economic benefits of the lower priced diesel fuel, assuming that the maintenance costs are the same for the diesel and the petrol variants!

Here’s the breakeven distance without considering the maintenance cost for a few well-known models based on the fuel prices in Bangalore as of Aug 30, 2014, the ex-showroom prices in New Delhi:
(Note: The below list is a good enough comparison for practical decision-making purposes)

Petrol Price: Rs. 77.11, Diesel Price: Rs. 63.46 (Bangalore, as of Aug 30, 2014)

Car Petrol (Rs. Lakh) Petrol Mileage (km) Diesel (Rs. Lakh) Diesel Mileage (km) Breakeven distance (km)
All New Honda City VX MT 9.91 17.8 11.06 26 59934
Hyundai Fluidic Verna 1.6 SX Opt MT 9.52 17.01 10.81 21.9 77510
Volkswagen Vento Highline MT 8.97 15.04 10.02 20.5 50873
Skoda Rapid Elegance MT 8.59 15 9.61 20.5 49092
Ford Figo Titanium 5.15 15.96 6.12 20 57425

You can also download this Excel sheet if you want to plug in the latest prices and calculate the distance: Petrol-Diesel-Comparison-Formula

Petrol / Diesel Price Comparison for Buying Cars (As of Sep 29, 2013 in Bangalore)

(For those of you who are undecided about whether to buy a petrol or diesel car, here are some quick calculations I did today. You can use this as a starting point and decide which one to buy based on your driving pattern)

Petrol 1 litre – Rs. 82.86 (Average Mileage: 14 km/l)
Diesel 1 litre – Rs. 56.10 (Average Mileage: 17 km/l)

For 1000 km,
Petrol – 1000/14 * 82.86 = Rs. 5919
Diesel – 1000/17 * 56.10 = Rs. 3300

(Difference = Rs. 2619 per 1000 km)

Diesel cars cost ~Rs. 1.5 lakh more than petrol vehicles

Therefore, to break even,
you have to drive 150000/2619 = 58,000 km in a diesel car.
After that, you start seeing the benefit of lower diesel prices.

I’m at 63,000 km now. Yay!!

Satire against the Center

(Disclaimer: All the following content is fictional and bears no resemblance to any person, living or deceased. Any such resemblance is merely co-incidental. By reading the below content, you agree that )

I hear that life is never dull when you work at the Center. It pushes you to the brink of madness one day, and makes you laugh in wonder at the extent of human stupidity the next day.

I have quite a bit of work I plan to complete tonight, and coincidentally that was one of the triggers that pushed me to write this satire as well.

Here is an excerpt of various articles about the center:

1. The Center announces Roller Coaster Elevators in collaboration with one of the world’s top elevator giants

The Center and one of the world’s top elevator giants announced that employees of the Center will have a fun time on the way up to and down from their office buildings. Due to the extreme floor switching and jerking movements in the elevators, the Center feels that its occupants don’t need to go to theme parks to go on roller coasters anymore. Rumors are also circulating that the Center is planning on levying an entertainment fee on its occupants for use of the roller coaster elevators.

2. Steven Spielberg announces next movie – “The Elevator Lobby”

Acclaimed director, Steven Spielberg has revealed that his next movie will be titled, “The Elevator Lobby”, starring Tom Hanks. Widely considered as a sequel to “The Terminal”, this movie explores an alternate timeline where Tom Hanks finally escapes the terminal, but is now stuck in the elevator lobby of the Center waiting for the lift to arrive.



3. Las Vegas Casino Announces Usage of the Center’s Elevators in New Gambling Game

In a novel turn of events, a Las Vegas casino announced that due to the extreme randomness displayed by the Center’s elevators, it has decided to launch a new game using the elevators. Similar to roulette, the ball would be allowed to roll on a circular rotating wheel which would stop when the elevator finally arrived at its stop. Other mathematicians are also investigating whether the Center’s elevators have finally touched the frontier of artificially generated true randomness and are excited about the various possibilities on offer.


4. The Center announces defense in depth strategy by having two weak security checkpoints

The Center has beefed up security for its occupants by having two stages of weak security checks for vehicles that enter the Center. Each security check is very weakly carried out in the belief that two very weak security checks are the same as one strong security check.

(What the author envisions happened)




5. The Center bans t-shirts, jeans and backpacks to improve security

In order to improve security, the Center has banned its occupants from wearing t-shirts and jeans, and carrying backpacks. As security analysts pondered the rationale of this move, the Center explained that terrorists in recent times had worn t-shirts and jeans, and carried backpacks during attacks; having none of its occupants wear or carry these items would help security personnel immediately identify terrorists who wear t-shirts and jeans, and carry backpacks in order to take action.

As the previously mentioned security analysts tightened the nooses around their own necks and kicked out the stools from underneath their legs, the  Center further clarified that this move was a follow-up of its previous ban on occupants parking their vehicles for more than 24 hours in the parking lots. As the security analysts gagged and choked, taking in their last breaths,  the Center added that the ban was because unidentified vehicles on the roadside were the source of bomb blasts.

When a few security analysts who were about to lose their mind in the near future questioned how bombs could pass undetected in the (weak x weak = strong) security check, the Center started playing the classic song, “Singing in the rain” and refused further comments about the issue.


What all the Center occupants are supposed to carry instead of backpacks….


6. The Center bans mails males to improve security

In another bold move, the Center corrected its previous statement about banning all mails, and clarified that it actually meant to ban all males from its premises. The reasoning was that since most terrorist attacks had been carried out by males in the recent past, banning them entirely would improve the security of the Center.

In a related incident, an elderly male was caught sneaking into the Center dressed like a female, and remanded.