Diesel drivers are paying more than 17p per litre more for fuel than petrol owners, despite the two fuels costing retailers the same to buy.
The latest fuel price figures show that wholesale diesel costs have tumbled throughout March and are now the same as petrol at around 114p per litre. However, the average price at the pumps is 164.26p for diesel, compared to 146.63p for petrol.
According to data from the RAC, diesel prices have even dipped below petrol in recent days but forecourt prices have not reflected this. The motoring group described the situation as a “scandal” and blamed the UK’s supermarket giants for keeping costs artificially high.
RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “The forecourt price disparity between petrol and diesel across the UK is absolutely shocking given their wholesale prices are now virtually identical.
“At the beginning of March wholesale diesel was only 6p more expensive than petrol yet there was a 20p a litre gap between both fuels on the forecourt. Now the two fuels are identical on the wholesale market, and there’s still more than 17p difference at the pump. For retailers to be taking a margin of nearly 20p a litre on average throughout March, compared to the long-term average of 7p, is devastating for every driver and business that relies on diesel.”
According to RAC figures while diesel wholesale prices have fallen throughout March petrol prices have remained the same. It argues that based on current wholesale prices, diesel should be around 147p per litre but that Tesco, Asda, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s, which dominate fuel sales in the UK have refused to pass on the savings. Its figures show that while retailer margins on petrol are around 6p per litre they are 22p on diesel.
Williams added: “As the supermarkets buy so frequently they have had plenty of time to pass on the lower prices they are benefitting from on the wholesale market to drivers at the pumps, but they remain totally resolute in their refusal to cut their prices substantially which is nothing short of scandalous, particularly in a cost-of-living crisis. The sole national retailer prepared to buck this trend appears to be membership-only chain Costco, which is charging just under 150p a litre for diesel at the moment.”
He said that many independent retailers were now charging less than the “big four” supermarket chains - something that would have been almost unthinkable a few years ago. “If smaller retailers can afford to make ends meet with lower margins and smaller sales volumes, then what excuse can the supermarkets possibly have for keeping their diesel prices so high?” he added.