Gasoline cars are finally cheaper to run than diesel as the ‘fuel gap’ hits a record high
Diesel cars are now less cost-effective to run than petrol, analysis has shown, as drivers pay a record-breaking 24.5p more per liter.
The widening price gap means the average gas car is now less expensive, although it doesn’t go as far per gallon. telegraph Analysis of government numbers suggests.
On average, a liter of petrol was 164.4p at the pump last week, while diesel was priced at 188.9p, official data showed. That’s the biggest difference since records began in 2003.
“In terms of new car sales, the diesel is basically just a niche vehicle,” says Stuart Masson, editor-in-chief of the consulting service The Car Expert.
Fuel is “the first to fall” in the shift to electric cars, he said.
It comes after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt left the door open to a 23 per cent increase in the autumn statement, a hike that would increase the cost of a liter of fuel by 12p and push diesel above the £2 mark.
Mr Hunt struggled to reassure Conservative critics that the government has yet to make a decision on the issue following a backlash led by Priti Patel.
In the past, diesel was recommended for people driving at least 12,000 miles a year – but at that mileage it would still be £62 more expensive at today’s prices.
Someone who drives 8,000 miles a year would save £41 by driving a petrol vehicle instead of a diesel telegraph Analysis of the government and which ones? show data.
Fuel economy figures are notoriously unreliable as the tests are conducted in a lab in certain circumstances.
Independent Consumer Brand Tests Which? Earlier this year it showed that an average diesel car travels between 4 and 5.3 more miles per gallon than gasoline vehicles.
Even accounting for drivers who mostly use highways or drive outside of the city, where diesel cars are cheapest, the savings are even smaller.
Government data suggests that petrol cars have been on average cheaper from mid-October when the price gap topped 19p.
New diesel vehicles tend to be more expensive than petrol vehicles as well, increasing the overall cost. However, the total costs depend on the model – and on individual driving habits.
“Ultimately, one of the biggest factors in how practical and economical a car is depends on the driver. When you save the right foot, you use less fuel of any kind,” said Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation.
The price difference averaged 4.5p before Russia invaded Ukraine at the end of February – 20p less than today.
The gap has widened significantly since the end of the summer. Higher demand in the winter months drives up costs even more, as Gooding said many countries also use diesel for heating and power generation.
“The situation for diesel drivers is grim and unlikely to improve in the coming weeks. In fact, it could get worse,” he said.
The International Energy Agency has warned that diesel could become the next sticking point in the energy crisis.
EU sanctions on imports of diesel and other refined products from Russia, due to come into effect in February next year, are likely to push prices even higher by limiting supply.
Fuel costs rose to a record high in October and are 70 percent higher than a year ago, according to the IEA.
The increased prices will affect the overall economy and could fuel inflation as it is the most commonly used fuel for trucks and agriculture.
According to Mr Masson, diesel will soon only be used by people in those industries.
“It will still be indispensable for long-distance drivers and farmers. But for the average suburban consumer, diesel is pretty much a thing of the past now,” he said.
According to Laura Harvey of auto marketplace Auto Trader, the rapidly widening fuel price differential is also likely to make consumers less inclined to buy a diesel car.
“There’s definitely a downside towards diesel,” she said. “Electrics wins that share.”
“We see and have seen that interest has increased tremendously when fuel prices have increased. Consumers will then look for electric vehicles.”