A lot more mileage is left in the diesel vs petrol debate
Julian Knight finds fuel efficiency doesn't always mean low cost
Sunday 24 August 2008
In a little over a week's time, thousands of Britons will become the proud owners of a brand new 58-registration car. But in these days of the credit crunch and record-high oil prices, the decision to buy a new car is made as much with the head as with the heart.
No wonder, therefore, that fuel efficiency has become essential. And this is where a new generation of cleaner diesel engines is meant to offer a partial solution.
"Diesel engines are around 15 to 20 per cent more fuel efficient than standard petrol ones," says Luke Bosdett, spokesman for the AA. "It can make a huge difference to get 60 or 65 miles per gallon rather than 45 or 50."
However, there is a price to be paid for going diesel. The AA estimates that, depending on the size of the vehicle, the purchase price will be between £300 and £1,500 higher than for the same model fitted with a standard petrol engine. Generally, the bigger the car, the higher the price differential.
Up until recently, from a purely pounds, shillings and pence point of view, the calculation motorists use to have to make was whether they could cover the higher initial costs of diesel through savings at the pump. In short, the more miles you drove each year, the more you would benefit from the greater fuel efficiency of diesel.
But the dramatic rise in oil prices over the past year has thrown a spanner into these works and makes the job of calculating whether it's cheaper to go with diesel or petrol a whole lot more difficult.
"Not too long ago," says Mr Bosdett, "a gallon of diesel was around 5p more expensive than unleaded petrol. But with demand for diesel from the developing world, particularly South America, the costs at the pump have risen even higher than for standard petrol."
According to the AA's latest calculations, the average litre of diesel costs 124.44p, compared with 112.50p for unleaded petrol.
As a result, the number of miles that a motorist needs to cover each year to make diesel work financially has increased dramatically. "We use to say that if you did 20-25,000 miles a year, then diesel would work out cheaper," continues Mr Bosdett. "However, with the moves in oil prices, this has gone up to 40,000 or even 50,000 with some models of bigger car."
Just to put that into context, the average UK motorist is estimated to cover around 10,000 miles a year. Despite this, diesel is more popular than ever – not just among high-mileage company car users, who have in the past formed a large part of the market, but also with private individuals.
"The number of new diesel cars being registered grew by 7.3 per cent last year," says Sara Lee from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. "They account for 43 per cent of the total market. There has been a dash for diesel as people want the greater fuel efficiency, and it has shrugged off the old image of being noisy and polluting."
In fact, in many cases, the latest generation of "green" diesel cars actually emit lower levels of CO2 than their petrol counterparts, adds Ms Lee.
But Mr Bosdett puts the renewed popularity of diesel down to "consumers not doing the sums properly". Nevertheless, he holds out some hope that with a relative degree of calm returning to international oil markets of late, the price differential at the pumps between petrol and diesel will soon narrow, making diesel a more sensible choice for drivers who clock up average mileage.
However, Nick Van Der Vell of the UK Petroleum Industry Association is less bullish. He says the underlying reason diesel cars are making less sense financially is the Government's tax policy: "When you look around Europe, we are one of the few countries that taxes diesel exactly the same as petrol. Other countries, such as France and Spain, tax diesel far less, making it a more cost-effective choice."
Derek Pain: I'm cautious, but remain one of the few bulls in the market
Donald MacInnes: Who would want to be a Barbie girl in a non-Barbie world?
Mark Dampier: How to get an income now that savings are past the 'use by' date
Thousands of UK investors could lose out following collapse of Secured Energy Bonds
Bargain Hunter: Fly off for a winter break in France or Portugal for well under £100
- 1 Stephen Fry explains what he would say if he was 'confronted by God'
- 2 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 3 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 4 Ball pool for adults opens in London
Stephen Fry explains what he would say if he was 'confronted by God'
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
Hard line on immigration could cost Tories the election
iJobs Money & Business
£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Marke...
£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established ...
£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...
Day In a Page
A minimnalist four-bedroom home designed to the highest spec, featuring glass walls and a kitchen space lit by a glass roof
Hibernate during winter and make your living during the summer at this busy guesthouse with panoramic sea views, in the village of Lynton
A four-bedroom penthouse next to the Tate with direct views of St Paul's from two floors of luxurious living space
A four-bedroom detached home surrounded by spacious gardens and woodland, close to New Pudsey
An 18th-century, three-bedroom home near Langstone Harbour built from ships beams with vaulted ceilings and wood burning stoves
A five-bedroom semi-detached home with a mix of period and modern features in a popular and convenient location
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
A deceptively spacious, beautifully presented Georgian home with 3000sq ft of living space and five reception rooms
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion