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Holiday motorists face big fuel price rises in top destinations

14th May 2013 Print
Fuel pump

UK motorists driving in Europe this summer can expect to pay significantly more for fuel than a year ago, according to the Post Office Motoring on the Continent report.  With almost half the adult population (47 per cent) having driven abroad - most often in France (55 per cent) and Spain (42 per cent) - the report reveals that UK drivers visiting these countries are likely to be hit hard because unleaded pump prices are up 9p per litre year-on-year in Spain and 7p in France compared with no rise at all in the UK.
Post Office Travel Money found that sterling's fall in value against European currencies was responsible for the fuel price rises, rather than local pump price hikes. The report revealed that the cost of unleaded petrol had fallen in over half of the 18 countries it surveyed, while diesel was cheaper in over 80 per cent of the holiday motoring destinations.  However, once the sterling exchange rate was factored in, drivers face forking out up to £19 extra for every 1,000 miles of unleaded motoring, and up to £11 more to drive 1,000 miles in a diesel car.
The biggest burden will fall on motorists driving cars that use unleaded petrol because the Post Office found price increases of up to 12p per litre in 13 of the 18 countries surveyed, once the sterling exchange rate was applied.
The greatest pain is likely to be felt in Spain, the second most popular place for a motoring holiday, where 42 per cent of UK motorists said they had driven previously.  Although the country still emerges as fifth cheapest, UK motorists face a 7.4 per cent increase - highest in the Eurozone - and will pay £13.32 more for each 1,000 miles of motoring (£197.14).
The same number of motoring miles will also cost than last year - £10.66 - in France. Furthermore, at a cost of £236.10 for 1,000 miles, holidaymakers driving through France will pay £38.96 (20 per cent) more than in Spain because of the higher price per litre - £1.56 compared with £1.30.
As a result, France has fallen to 15th place in the Post Office Motoring on the Continent league table, with only Italy (£1.60), the Netherlands (£1.65) and Norway (£1.79) costing more for unleaded petrol.  Norway again emerges as the most expensive place to drive a petrol car, with a 12p surge in the pump price.                       
There is better news for UK motorists planning trips to Denmark (£1.44), where unleaded petrol prices are down by 7p per litre, as well as in Croatia (£1.24) and Switzerland (£1.35) where a litre of unleaded has fallen 3p. Fuel prices are also marginally cheaper (£1.34 compared with £1.35 last year) in the Czech Republic because the pound has kept par with the Czech koruna in value.
For the second year running, the cheapest fuel will be found in Andorra and Luxembourg.  Despite a 4p rise in the cost of unleaded petrol in Andorra, one litre costs just £1.17 - 35 per cent less than in Norway.  At £1.05 for a litre of diesel - up 2p - Andorra also comes closest to the £1 litre.  Luxembourg is a close runner-up, costing £1.23 for a litre of unleaded petrol and £1.11 for diesel fuel.
The sterling impact has also been felt on diesel prices for UK drivers in Europe.  Once the exchange rate was applied, the Post Office found increased costs in 14 of the 18 countries surveyed.  Only Denmark (-7p per litre), Croatia (-4p) and the UK (-1p) registered falls.
However, as in previous years, the report picked up big differences between the cost of diesel and unleaded petrol.  Motorists driving a diesel car will pay considerably less - up to 31p a litre - in almost all the countries surveyed than for unleaded petrol3.  Switzerland and the UK were the only exceptions, the latter again emerging as one of the most expensive countries for diesel motoring (£1.40).  
Andrew Brown of Post Office Travel Money said:  "The disparity between what motorists pay for diesel and for unleaded petrol in Europe is in marked contrast to the UK, where diesel has long been more expensive. This was just one of the anomalies we picked up in this year's survey, another being a difference of up 48p a litre in fuel costs across the eurozone.
"It may not make sense for holidaymakers to plan big detours just a save a few pounds, but the higher price of motoring on the Continent this year means they should plan their routes carefully before setting out so they keep costs down.
"One of the ways in which holiday motorists can keep fuel costs to a minimum is to detour off the motorways to fill up at a supermarket.  Just like in the UK, these can be the cheapest places to buy fuel, whereas motorists are likely to find the highest prices on the main roads."
Currencies for the destinations surveyed are among 25 available on demand at 1,600 larger Post Office branches, while over 10,000 offer euro over the counter. More than 70 currencies can be pre-ordered at over 11,500 Post Office branches or online by using the ‘Click & Collect' service at for next day branch or home delivery.

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Fuel pump