Diesel drivers are ‘f leeced’ to curb petrol price rises

Daily Mail - - News - By James Salmon Trans­port Edi­tor

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.’

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