Recent fuel price increases have seen diesel overtake the price of petrol by more than a rand per litre. Demand for diesel, as more motorists switch to the fuel that gives you more kilometers for you money, is the reason for escalating diesel prices…

Reasons for diesel price increases

Diesel Pump

Just when you decided to switch to a diesel powered car to improve your fuel consumption, it seems like diesel drivers are being penalised for their choices as the recent diesel price increase to almost R10 a litre. But take comfort (small though it may be) that this is a world-wide phenomenon and the popularity of diesel is what is driving up its price.

40% of fuel sales are diesel

Diesel sales in South Africa are growing nine times as fast as sales of petrol and South Africa now consumes about 25-billion litres of fuel a year, of which about 40% or 10-billion litres is diesel.

According to South African Petroleum Industry Association, sales of diesel in South Africa have risen in the past decade from 5.9-million litres in 1997 to 9.8-million litres in 2007 – an increase of 66 percent. Petrol sales in the same period rose from 10.8-million litres to 11.8-million litres, a little more than seven percent.

In Europe, a massive switch to more efficient diesel cars is also putting upward pressure on demand. Diesel sales are up by 40% in Britain over the past decade, according to Reuters, citing the Energy Institute. UK petrol sales, by contrast, have fallen by 17 percent over the last 10 years.

64% of European motorists use diesel

Diesel is now used by 64% of motorists in the five major European economies (Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain), and Swiss research institute, Petromatrix, has predicted that diesel will account for 80% of transport fuel sales in the above five countries in about 10 years.

Price of diesel not regulated

The world-wide demand for diesel, coupled with the face that its price is not regulated, means that South African fuel suppliers can charge what they like at the pumps (as long as they remain compeitive) and we will have to keep paying. However, the fact that South Africa and the rest of the world is changing to diesel, still means that the fuel offers more value for your money.

Diesel still a cost-saving option for the SA motorist

The only way many 4X4-loving South Africans can afford to drive their flashy SUVS is to trade them in for the diesel alternatives, thereby preventing too-frequent stops at filling stations. In the small car market, certain diesel derivatives of your favourite hatchbacks still claim to get you from Durbs to Joburg and back on a tank of diesel, clearly indicating that diesel is still the more cost-effective option in a world where fuel prices seem to be spiralling out of control.

Better for the environment too

Diesel engines have lower carbon emissions; this means they produce less carbon dioxide. Of course the fact that diesel engines use less fuel has obvious benefits for our environment.

Experiments with biodiesels means that some diesel powered vehicles can run on fuel derived from vegetables, ethanol or other oils, rather than fossil fuel – some hope for the future….