Fuel retailers aren’t playing fair with diesel drivers, says RAC

Diesel drivers being unfairly stung an extra 20p-a-litre at the pumps over petrol – RAC says they are due a ‘huge price cut in the next two weeks’

  • Wholesale diesel prices now almost on par with petrol but pump prices still high
  • Drivers paying 20p-a-litre premium despite wholesale being just 6p pricier
  • RAC says falling wholesale diesel prices should be reflected at pumps soon

Drivers of diesel vehicles are still being stung an extra 20p per litre over owners of petrol cars when they fill up despite there being ‘little difference’ in the prices of the two fuels on the wholesale market, according to the RAC.

The average cost to fill the tank of an average-size family car with a 55-litre capacity currently costs petrol drivers £81.40 while those with diesel models are having to splash out over £10 more (£92.39) each time they visit a forecourt.

The wholesale price of diesel fell to just 6p more than petrol last week (121.06p compared to 115.48p), yet drivers of diesel vehicles having to pay 168p-a-litre, compared to just 148p for unleaded.

The motoring group says that diesel drivers are due a ‘huge pump price cut’ within a fortnight – though caveats that this is only the case if fuel retailers play fair.

Diesel drivers getting a rough deal: The RAC says the wholesale price of diesel is now only slightly higher than petrol but still retailers are charging 20p-a-litre more for the fuel

The RAC said retailers are ‘subsidising’ cheaper petrol by taking a margin of 20p on every litre of diesel they sell.

Last week, the average UK price of unleaded was at 148p a litre, while diesel on Thursday 23 February was a near-20p per litre premium at 167.99p. 

The motoring group’s Fuel Watch department calculated that if diesel was being sold at a fairer rate drivers would be paying no more than around 155p per litre, which would make the cost of filling an average 55-litre family car £7 less than it is today (£85.25, compared to the current £92.39).

Its analysis shows retailers are currently taking more than double the margin on every litre of diesel they sell – just shy of a whopping 20p – compared to the 8.5p on unleaded, in effect subsiding petrol prices by charging more for diesel.

The RAC is calling on retailers to urgently cut the price of diesel to fairer levels, following the lead of membership-only retailer Costco which this week lopped 4p off diesel at its sites across the UK, meaning it is now charging an average of 154.7p – 13p less than the UK average and 11.5p less than the average at the UK’s big four supermarkets.

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams believes diesel vehicle owners ‘have every right to feel hard done by’ over current fuel prices.

Latest Government figures show  17.6 million vehicles licensed in the UK are diesel-powered, including the vast majority of vans. That represents 43 per cent of all vehicles on the road.

How ‘hypermiling’ can help to extend the time between fuel fill-ups 

Learning ‘hypermiling’ techniques will help all drivers cut fuel costs.

It is the name given to a series of energy efficient measures motorists can put into practice to save petrol, diesel or electricity (if you own an EV).

Using really simple hypermiling  techniques – like those listed below – ‘can easily save the equivalent of 9p-a-litre’, says the AA. 

> Read our top 10 hypermiling tips

He said: ‘While our data shows petrol is generally being sold at a fair price at forecourts at the moment, drivers of the country’s 12million diesel cars – as well as almost every white van driver – have every right to feel hard done by as they’re paying a huge premium for the fuel which in no way reflects its lower wholesale cost.’

Mr Williams says the wholesale price gap between the two fuels has been less than 10p-a-litre for almost a month. And in recent fays the gulf between the two has shrunk to just 3.5p.

Yet retailers have kept diesel pump prices ‘stubbornly high’, slashing the price of fuel by just 2p per litre since the beginning of February.

‘The fact membership-only retailer Costco has been able to cut the average price of a litre of diesel by a massive 4p this week shows what’s possible, but we badly need other fuel retailers to treat drivers of diesel vehicles fairly,’ he adds.

‘Even though the price of diesel is not being cut as quickly as it should be, the gap between the average prices of petrol and diesel has dropped to under 20p (19.99p) for the first time since 10 October 2022. 

‘If retailers now do the right thing this should reduce significantly, saving drivers who rely on diesel a lot of money every time they fill up.’

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