Fuel Prices up 10% in 2010

The price of petrol rose again this month and is up by 2.6c to 134.4c per litre according to the latest fuel price survey from the AA. Diesel prices rose even more sharply, by 3.5c a litre in the last month to an average of 125.5c. Petrol prices are now 9.8% higher (12c per litre) than they were in January. Diesel is up 10.5c since January, an increase of 9%. Almost two thirds of new car sales this year are diesel models, a very significant change in buying patterns as diesel has become the fuel of choice.

Prices are continuing to trend towards peak prices of 2008. In May of last year, a litre of petrol cost 108.8 cent. It has risen by 23% since then; diesel is up 24% from an average this time last year of 99.9 cent.

“These are very steep increases for ordinary families.” Says Director of Policy Conor Faughnan. “An Irish driver typically uses 150 litres of fuel per month*. This time last year that monthly bill cost €163. It now costs €201.”

The price of a barrel of oil on world markets dropped sharply to approximately $70 this month, a decrease of more than $10. However those gains are offset by the fall in the value of the Euro, and there is no sign as yet of falling prices for Irish motorists.

“World factors like oil and the dollar are only part of the story.” Says Faughnan. “The bigger issue is tax. Of your €200 or so monthly fuel bill, more than €120 goes directly to the government in tax. In adding to that amount in the last budget through the cynically and quite falsely named Carbon Tax it has been the Irish government, rather than the global economy, which has pushed up our cost of living.”

Fuel taxes consist of excise duty, an oil reserves levy, the new carbon tax and VAT. A tax-free litre of petrol or diesel would only cost 56 or 58 cents. On a positive note, there are still major savings to be made locally by shopping around. The difference between the cheaper and the more expensive Irish fuel retailers can be as much as 10%. Saving even 5 cents per litre will mean keeping an extra €7.50 in your pocket every month.

*a car that does 19,200 kms or 12,000 miles per year at a fuel economy rate of 30 miles per gallon will use 1,800 litres of fuel per year or 150 litres per month.

The AA’s Fuel Saving Tips For Summer 2010

* Buy fuel in units of litres, not euros. This makes it obvious where you get the best value

* Shop around: don’t always use the same garage out of habit

* Drive smoothly and slowly; a harsh driving style burns more fuel

* Load luggage on your roof rack as low as possible and wrap the luggage tightly in plastic sheeting or consider using a roof box to reduce the effect on fuel economy. If you are staying in the same place, it is worth removing the roof rack/box before driving to beaches and tourist attractions – but make sure you don’t lose any of the bits.

* Try your air vents first before opening windows: you may find that the airflow is enough to keep two people comfortable in the front of the car, particularly on a motorway. Air conditioners can add up to 10% to fuel usage.

* Don’t use the air conditioning all the time: once the air conditioning has cooled the inside of the car, you may be able to turn it down or off. Don’t start the air conditioning if doors or windows are open.

* If you are carrying extra passengers or heavy luggage, pump up the tyres to compensate for the extra weight. The car’s handbook gives advice on this.

* If you park in the sun, using a windscreen shade and opening up the car as soon as you get back to it will help to cool the interior. Opening windows while you drive out of a car park may lower the inside temperature several degrees before you start the air conditioning.

The AA offer comprehensive motor insurance policies which includes lifetime NCD protection for fire, theft, and glass claims. Call the AA on 1890 72 74 76 for further details or go to www.aaireland.ie/car-insurance/

Full details of the AA fuel price survey for May along with previous months for comparison, can be found on the Association’s website at www.aaireland.ie/news.

See www.aaireland.ie/petrolprices which includes European price comparisons