Diesel drivers are ‘f leeced’ to curb petrol price rises
MILLIONS of diesel drivers are being ‘fleeced’ at the pumps to subsidise owners of petrol cars, a damning report claims today.
The RAC said the wholesale price of diesel and petrol narrowed from just under 10p in November to less than 1p last month.
But retailers are still charging 6p more on average for diesel than for unleaded.
RAC spokesman Simon Williams said it had become ‘very clear’ that diesel drivers are paying ‘far more than they should be’ and retailers have been ‘using the cheaper wholesale cost of diesel to subsidise petrol pump prices’.
He added: ‘Diesel drivers are clearly being fleeced by fuel retailers as there had been only a couple of pence [recently] between petrol and diesel at the wholesale level – yet that gap suddenly widens at the pump to an average of 6p a litre in April. Retailers are blatantly using diesel to subsidise petrol pump prices to attract consumers to their shops as six in ten cars on the road are petrol.’
The RAC revealed that the 6p diesel- unleaded gap came as motorists endured one of the ‘ bleakest’ months on record in April after being hit by the second biggest hike in the price of petrol for nearly 20 years.
The average cost of unleaded jumped by 5.44p to 128.06p last month, pushing up the cost of filling a typical family 55-litre car by £3 to above £70. This has been blamed on the rising cost of oil.
It marks the third consecutive month of rises, pushing up the price of unleaded by 8.5p – almost £4.70 per tank – since the start of February.
The RAC said retailers had protected petrol drivers from even steeper hikes by overcharging diesel owners, meaning they had reason to feel ‘aggrieved’. The average cost of diesel rose 3p a litre from 130.7p to 133.7p in April.
Mr Williams said if diesel had not been subsidising unleaded, prices would have risen by a record amount of more than 6p last month. He added: ‘The bad news for petrol drivers is that a tank of petrol still costs £3 more than it did at the start of April.’
The biggest monthly rise for petrol since 2000 was 6p in May 2018. A global backlash against diesel amid health concerns saw sales of new diesel cars fall by 30 per cent in the UK last year.
But official figures show there are still 12.4million diesel vehicles on Britain’s roads, compared with 18.5million petrol. A total of 30.5billion litres of diesel were sold in 2018 – double the 15.8billion litres of petrol.
The RAC findings come after a report published by FairFuelUK last week accused retailers of raking in £5million in excess profits from motorists every day by failing to pass on the falls in wholesale costs.
Brian Madderson, of the Petrol Retailers Association, rejected the RAC’s findings last night. He said: ‘To say diesel drivers are being ripped off shows crass ignorance of the market.
‘The RAC has never run a filling station and have no idea what prices should be. They must be aware that the vast proportion of diesel is used by commercial drivers who benefit from fuel discount cars and never pay the advertised price at the pumps.’