Soaring demand pushes price of diesel to record level

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The Independent Online

The cost of diesel fuel in forecourts has risen to a new high, the AA said, and the price is rising faster than that for petrol.

The average price of diesel in the UK is now 114.25p a litre – a near-5p rise on the average price a month ago. The average petrol price is 106.75p a litre – 2.74p more than a month ago. That makes a litre of diesel 7.49p more expensive than petrol, compared with 5.1p at the start of the year and the previous highest gap of 5.67p in November 2006.

The AA said a diesel car, which costs on average £1,400 more than its petrol equivalent, usually takes more than 45,000 miles before the savings from greater fuel efficiency recoup the extra cost of purchase.

The 2.39p-a-litre increase in the petrol-diesel price gap since the beginning of the year has added on average a further 1,243 miles to the break-even distance – 14 per cent of the average annual car mileage.

For petrol-car owners, this month's 106.76p-a-litre price is 17.73p more expensive than this time last year. This is adding £8.62 to the cost of filling up the typical 50-litre petrol tank.

Families with two cars have to deal with a £36.93 hole in their monthly budgets from the extra cost of petrol compared with the same period in 2007.

The cheapest petrol is in Yorkshire and Humberside (106.7p a litre on average), while the dearest is in London (107.6p). Wales has the highest-priced diesel (115.1p) while the least expensive is in north-west England (113.6p).

The AA said those filling up with diesel this Easter would do well to go to supermarkets, where the average price is 111.64p a litre. Supermarket petrol averages 105.18p a litre.

The AA president, Edmund King, said: "Diesel cars accounted for 40.2 per cent of the 2.4 million new cars sold in Britain last year, compared with just 13.8 per cent in 1999. The dash for diesel continues in the UK, with motorists primarily trying to reduce their fuel costs, but with the added benefit of reduced CO2 emissions. However, diesel is more expensive than petrol and the differential is growing. Consequently, buying a diesel is not an automatic switch to cut-price motoring. For many low-mileage drivers, buying a diesel is a false economy. The AA urges anyone considering the switch to a diesel car to research their motoring costs thoroughly."