The Road Ahead : August September 2008
motoring affordability m Diesel daze The escalating price of diesel has angered a lot of vehicle owners. STORY BARRY GREEN A nother day, another dollar, another rise in fuel prices. In Brisbane, the cost of diesel soared from an average of 122.9 cents/litre in July 2007 to 175.8 cents/litre in June 2008, way outpacing the increase in petrol. And it’s not just the private motorist who is paying for this surge. The Australian Trucking Association estimates that 75 percent of all freight is transported primarily by diesel trucks. This unprecedented demand for what is a fi xed supply, they say, is the reason for the high prices. RACQ external relations general manager Gary Fites said a disincentive for oil companies and retailers alike to discount what was still 28 percent. And the retail margin on diesel is just 1 percent, compared with 4 percent on petrol. However, the sharp contrast is in the refi ning and distribution take, which is 18 percent for diesel and 9 percent for petrol. Diesel price critics point across the Tasman Sea, where New Zealanders appear to be getting a better deal. But all is not what it might seem. The reason why diesel is substantially cheaper than petrol there is because it is not subject to fuel excise at the source of purchase. In its place, however, New Zealand has a separate road user charge for all diesel vehicles. WATCH WHAT YOU PUT IN considered a ‘niche’ product further added to the pain at the pump. While the farming sector and trucking companies receive some relief by way of commercial fuel contracts at negotiated bulk discount rates and the Fuel Tax Credit Scheme, the private motorist is at the mercy of retail prices. The Australian Institute of Petroleum and the Federal Government blame the burgeoning economies of Asian nations such as China and India for driving the global demand for diesel. 12 AUG/SEP 08 “That’s why diesel owners are paying up to 25 cents a litre more for their fuel than their petrol-powered counterparts at the trough end of south-east Queensland’s weekly petrol price cycle,” Mr Fites said. “But it really is demand that is pushing the price up.” According to the RACQ’s daily fuel price analysis, the crude oil and tax components of the price you pay varies little between diesel and petrol. On diesel, it is 55 and 26 percent respectively; and on petrol it is 59 and As the number of diesel-powered vehicles on our roads grows, so too does the incidence of misfuelling. Misfuelling is when a diesel car is filled up with petrol, or vice versa. This is not a local phenomenon. The Automobile Association estimates there are around 150,000 misfuelling incidents annually in the United Kingdom. RACQ executive manager vehicle technologies Steve Spalding said the consequences of misfuelling a late model diesel vehicle, particularly one fitted with common-rail engine technology, could be costly. “These repairs can reach upwards of $10,000 if key components are damaged,” he said. Mr Spalding advised diesel vehicle owners and drivers to be vigilant when filling up. “It is easy to pick up the wrong pump nozzle, particularly if there are multiple fuel choices at the same bowser.” Image by thecarlinco, Shutterstock.com.
October November 2008
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