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Should You Choose A Gas Or Diesel Rental Car?

Choosing between a gas or diesel rental car in Europe is often a matter of economy and personal preference. The long-standing perception that diesel-powered cars are noisy and smelly has been dispelled by new car technology that minimizes these problems. Once you have driven a brand new Peugeot diesel, you should find that the driving differences are minimal if even noticeable at all.

Approximately 50% of all cars driven in Europe today are diesel-powered. So, unlike in North America, diesel cars are widely preferred for economy and efficiency.


If Economy is the Main Concern

Diesel engines offer a lower cost per kilometer than gasoline engines. Of course, savings will depend upon the comparative cost of diesel and gasoline at the time of the rental.

According to CarsDirect, diesel engines are 33% more efficient than comparable gasoline engines, though this may vary depending upon the model. Therefore, to be equal in economy, the cost of gasoline would need to be 33% lower than diesel. But this has never happened in recent years.

For example, using US measures, assume a gasoline engine for a certain car yields 30 miles per gallon. The same car on diesel should yield 33% better mileage at 40 miles per gallon. Assume gasoline and diesel are on par at $3.00 per gallon, which in the United States is roughly the case today. On a 3,000-mile trip, with these mileage and cost hypotheses as an example, the gasoline engine would use 100 gallons and the diesel would use only 75 gallons. The savings using diesel comes to a total of $75.00. In fact, for the cost per mile of gas and diesel to break even, diesel would need to be a 33% percent more expensive than gasoline.

In Europe, currently, diesel is less expensive per liter than gasoline which is actually the opposite of what we are used to in the states. As of May 2015, according to our global petrol prices link, the cost per liter of gasoline in France is €1.406/liter, or $5.86/gallon. Diesel is substantially less at €1.156/liter, or $ 4.82/gallon, using an exchange rate of $1.0974=€1.00.

Therefore, the savings on that 3,000-mile trip using a diesel-powered rental instead of gasoline would be a whopping $224.50. For long trips between European cities and countries, diesel yields a decided economic advantage. For short hops, the difference is not so significant.


If Environment is the Main Concern

With recent technology, diesel engines have been deemed to be no more environmentally detrimental than gasoline engines. While burning diesel does emit some additional carcinogenic gasses and CO2, keep in mind that the diesel engine is burning less fuel than gasoline engines. So in the area of environmental impact, many consider the difference to be minimal.


If Ride and Noise are a Main Concern

There have been improvements in diesel technology in recent years to lower the noise level. If you have a keen ear, you might notice the diesel motor to be slightly noisier while idling, though not noticeable while moving at higher speed. Because of the greater potential torque with the diesel engine, the driver will tend to upshift sooner than with a diesel engine, thus making the ride actually seem smoother.


If Finding Diesel Fuel Stations in Europe is the Main Concern

In the US, it is true that finding diesel fuel is not as convenient as finding regular gasoline. It is therefore understandable to be concerned that you won’t be able to find the proper type of fuel station while you are traveling with a diesel car in Europe.

However, as mentioned earlier, half of the vehicles in Europe run on diesel and thus, by necessity,  the network of diesel stations in France and around Europe is much greater than that of what we are used to in the States.


How to Tell If Your Rental is Gas or Diesel

With our Peugeot Open Europe program, you will know the exact vehicle model you are receiving far in advance and the contract will clearly state Diesel vs Gas. However, if your rental agency has not already informed you whether your car is a gas or diesel rental car, there should be some telltale signs.

  1. The opening to the diesel engine fuel tank has a larger diameter.
  2. The sound of the car as you drive off the lot may be somewhat different than you are used to.
  3. There are usually markings on or near the gas cap that advise the type of fuel to use.
  4. Consult the rental agreement, since there should be some identification noted.

But if you are still in doubt, ask a service station attendant or mechanic to identify the engine type. Putting the wrong fuel in the tank can be a very expensive mistake and can cause serious damage. If you have inadvertently made the mistake of using the wrong fuel and have noticed before driving off, the fuel tank should be drained and the vehicle taken to an authorized mechanic.

NOTE: Through the Auto France Peugeot Open Europe program, a full range of brand new Peugeots, ranging from four-passenger models to luxury sedans to larger minivans, are available with both gasoline and diesel engines and a choice of standard or automatic transmissions.

A gas or diesel rental car is widely accepted in Europe. Renting a diesel-powered car for your extended vacation in Europe is quite normal. While gasoline-powered rentals may have a slight advantage in noise and ride, the potential savings from renting a diesel long-term can be substantial.

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