March fuel prices

Published on Wednesday, 28 March 2012 12:25
Written by Scott Buckler

UK petrol pump prices are already 1p a litre above last year’s record and diesel nearly 2.5p a litre higher than last May’s peak

These and the impending fuel duty increase will wipe out any saving and respite UK motorists could have expected from warmer weather motoring, March’s AA Fuel Price Report highlights.

On average, the cost of petrol has risen to 138.50 pence a litre and diesel 145.45, both all-time highs and an increase over the month of 3.5p a litre for petrol and 2.65p for diesel. Last year, fuel prices set records of 137.43p for petrol and 143.04p for diesel.

Warmer weather and more daylight reduce a car engine’s winter workload and improve fuel efficiency by at least two miles per gallon. For a petrol car with an average fuel consumption of 31 mpg or 6.8 miles per litre, a 2 mpg improvement adds 24 miles to the range of a 55-litre (12-gallon) fuel tank – equivalent to a saving of 3.5 litres, £4.85 a tank or 8.8p a litre.

Infuriatingly for drivers, the 6.25p-a-litre increase in the price of petrol since the start of the year has slashed much of the saving and the Treasury’s 3.624p-a-litre fuel duty increase with VAT on 1 August will finish the job.

Overall, current record prices for petrol and diesel have:

  •     in the past month, added £1.75 to the cost of refuelling a typical petrol tank and £2.12 for an 80-litre commercial van diesel tank,

  •     since the start of the year, added £13.27 to the monthly fuel costs of a family with two petrol cars,

  •     compared to a year ago, diverted an extra £5.78 million a day from high street and other consumer spending into fuel sales. Compared to March 2010, £23.21 million more a day is now lost to petrol and diesel.


Confirmation of a fuel duty increase in the Budget will condemn poorer drivers in rural areas to suffer disproportionately when the tax rise comes into force on 1 August. According to Department for Transport figures, a rural resident drives on average 5,618 miles, compared to the average of 3,415.

This year’s 6.25p-a-litre rise in petrol costs is already adding £51.64 to the rural driver’s annual fuel bill, and the 3.62p-a-litre duty + VAT rise from 1 August will add a further £29.91. Totalling £81.55, this compares with an increase of £49.57 for the average UK driver.

tags:FuelAa
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