According to recent RAC surveys the price of fuel has been going up by almost a penny a day in recent weeks. It seems to have steadied now but with diesel nudging into the low £1.30 a litre zone it is clear that the lower prices we have got used to may be a thing of the past - again!
Politicians could help however, as fuel duty and VAT still make up over 62% of the cost. Only 48p of the 129.9p cost of an average litre is for the oil, its production and supply and profit for retailers.
An average car that costs about £70 to fill up today only cost £63 to fill last July. That may not seem much but if it’s every week then it certainly starts to add up. Almost two-thirds of workers commute by car and transport is now the single biggest area of household expenditure. That means money being poured into out tanks is not being used for shopping or leisure activities which has a direct effect on the economy.
As a private motorist it seems that there is little you can do when prices are being driven by worldwide geopolitical forces. Individually though, we can make decisions and change our behaviour to minimise the impact.
In my lifetime the cost of fuel has yo-yoed up and down and many drivers think it’s not worth changing their car or their driving style because it will “go back down again, won’t it?”
Unfortunately it seems not, and by acting now you can save yourself some money as well as the planet. Some green campaigners are even actively lobbying for the fuel duty freeze to be abandoned to try and price drivers out of their cars. With few viable alternatives, especially outside city centres, good luck with that!
The best thing about adopting an eco-driving frame of mind is that you can start saving some of that £360 extra a year you are paying to fill up the very next time you start the car. It will also make you safer as the advanced driving skills of observation, anticipation and planning are key to smooth and efficient driving. Just remember that your right foot is connected to your wallet as well as to your engine. The harder you push the faster the money disappears.
Should you change your car now? The answer is still not clear but the signposts are there – hybrids and electric cars will dominate in the next decades but still make up a very small part of the market.
IAM RoadSmart has been asking the government to improve information for consumers and to be more consistent in their policy promises. This means ensuring that electric car grants continue, explaining new emissions figures, increasing investment in charging points and making the taxation of the greenest cars is more understandable.
Most eco-driving training is run for business and fleets so why not tell your employer they could save 15% on their fuel costs tomorrow, an idea that might just get you a bonus from some enlightened companies!
By Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart’s director of policy and research