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Diesel at its costliest in more than seven years

Diesel fuel pump

There appears to be no respite for fleets and company car drivers as petrol and diesel prices continue to rise this summer.

The RAC reports that another 3.4p and 2.7p were added to a litre of petrol and diesel, respectively in July.

Last month saw the largest rise in the price of unleaded since January and means on average a litre now costs 135.13p – a price not seen since late September 2013 – up from 131.76p at the start of the month.

Diesel meanwhile now costs on average 137.06p per litre, up from 134.36p. The price rises meant that last month was the most expensive July to fill up with petrol since 2013, and for diesel since 2014.

A driver filling up a 55-litre car with petrol now pays on average £3.08 more to fill up than they did at the start of June, and £11.47 more than they did a year ago. The picture is barely better for diesel drivers; filling a similarly sized tank now costs £2.90 more than at the start of June, and £10.46 more than it did at the end of July 2020.

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “Right now it’s hard to see what it will take for prices to start falling again.

“While we’re not past the pandemic by any means, demand for oil is likely to continue to increase as economic activity picks up again, and this is likely to have the effect of pushing up wholesale fuel prices, costs which retailers are bound to pass on at the pumps.

“Unless major oil producing nations decide a new strategy to increase output, we could very well see forecourt prices going even higher towards the end of the summer.”

Although there was little overall change in the oil price from the start to the end of July, it almost hit the $80 a barrel mark near the beginning of the month, reports RAC.

At supermarket forecourts the price of a litre of petrol is around 3p cheaper compared to the average (132.34p compared to 135.13p) and more than 16p less than at motorway service areas (132.34p compared to 148.78p).

“If there is any good news at all, it is that prices would need to rise significantly further – by a further 3p – to reach the highest prices we saw in 2013,” continued Williams.

“But that’s no comfort for the millions of drivers who are faced with paying so much more for fuel than they have done in many years.”

Alfonso Martinez, managing director of vehicle leasing company LeasePlan UK, suggests that drivers and fleets need to pay close attention to the rising cost of petrol and diesel, as this will likely continue as economic activity picks up.

"Rather than simply shrugging this off in an act of resignation, they should see this as a call to action," he said. "Electric vehicles present a viable solution to the rising cost of fuel, with the cost to charge a typical mid-size model around 2.27p per mile - which equates to around £9 a month if you were to commute 20 miles a day for work.

"We’re now at a point where switching to an EV is both a benefit for the environment and your wallet." 

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