Fru­gal mo­tor­ing

The Northland Age - - Opinion - Frank and Muriel New­man

Petrol prices are on the rise, and more peo­ple are now con­sid­er­ing switch­ing to elec­tric ve­hi­cles. Each year In­land Rev­enue cal­cu­lates the cost per kilo­me­tre of op­er­at­ing a ve­hi­cle, which in­cludes fixed costs, de­pre­ci­a­tion and run­ning costs.

The good news is that the cost of an elec­tric ve­hi­cle has gone down five cents a kilo­me­tre over the last year to 76 cents, while the cost of a con­ven­tional petrol ve­hi­cle is up three cents, also to 76 cents.

The con­ver­gence of the costs has for the first time brought elec­tric ve­hi­cles costs on a par with petrol.

It is highly likely the run­ning cost of elec­tric ve­hi­cles will con­tinue to come down, rel­a­tive to petrol, as pro­duc­tion of elec­tric ve­hi­cles in­creases and the price per unit falls.

Given the sim­plic­ity of an elec­tric en­gine, we be­lieve there is po­ten­tial for trans­port costs to be re­duced sig­nif­i­cantly in the fu­ture, but for most of us the up­front cost of own­ing an elec­tric is still too much of a hur­dle, so it looks like we’ll be fill­ing up at the petrol sta­tion for a while yet.

Paul has as tip for fru­gal mo­torists: “There’s an app for mo­bile phones called Gaspy. It’s a Kiwi bit of soft­ware that uses the GPS on your phone to show the cheap­est petrol sta­tions near you and the dis­tance from your cur­rent po­si­tion to them.”

While the data do not come from ser­vice sta­tions di­rectly, and may not in­clude all out­lets, a look around the site shows crowd-power is pro­vid­ing suf­fi­cient data to achieve the ob­jec­tive, which is to show users where they can buy the cheap­est fuel. In the Bay of Plenty and Auck­land ar­eas they say sav­ings typ­i­cally are about 13 cents a litre. In North­land and the Waikato it’s 10 cents.

Not only is the app great for those who want to save money, but also for those who want to do their bit to bring greater com­pe­ti­tion to the fuel re­tail in­dus­try.

There’s no ques­tion that com­pe­ti­tion re­sults in bet­ter pric­ing for the con­sumer, and that’s a great thing. Con­sumer power is mar­ket democ­racy in ac­tion.

We have used the app, and find it es­pe­cially use­ful on trips, where we don’t al­ready know where the best deals are. By think­ing ahead a hun­dred kilo­me­tres or so, we can plan the pit stop and get the best econ­omy from the re­fill. As a gen­eral rule, we have found Gull is typ­i­cally the cheap­est place to fuel-up — their self-ser­vice sta­tions in par­tic­u­lar.

On the sub­ject of fuel prices, some­thing to think about when you are re­plac­ing your ve­hi­cle is the type of fuel it uses. Most cars run on 91 oc­tane, but some run on 95. These are gen­er­ally higher-per­for­mance cars with higher com­pres­sion. There is no ben­e­fit in us­ing 95 petrol in a car where the man­u­fac­turer rec­om­mends 91.

And tyre pres­sure af­fects fuel con­sump­tion. Ac­cord­ing to one tyre com­pany, ev­ery 10 per cent un­der the ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­turer’s rec­om­mended pres­sure costs about 2.5 per cent in fuel con­sump­tion. If a tyre is run­ning at 27 PSI in­stead of 30, the ex­tra fuel con­sump­tion will cost about six cents a litre based on to­day’s pump price.

"We have used the Gaspy app, and find it es­pe­cially use­ful on trips, where we don’t al­ready know where the best deals are. "

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