Since March 1983 I have kept a detailed record of fuel prices and fuel consumption, spanning fifteen different cars, both privately-owned and company. This table records the movement in fuel prices over that period, taking in each year the first fuel purchase in March. Prices are for leaded 4-star up to 1988, and unleaded thereafter. This roughly corresponds to the point when unleaded took over from 4-star as the standard fuel.
During the period covered by the table, "real" fuel prices fell between 1983 and 1992, encouraging a boom in road traffic, but then rose sharply due to the "fuel duty escalator", resulting in the fuel protest of 2000. At this time, fuel prices had risen by over 50% in five years, which undoubtedly caused much hardship.
The table also does not show peak prices in my local area, which were 224.6p/gallon (49.4p/litre) in October 1990, following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, and 390.5p/gallon (85.9p/litre) in June 2000, just before the fuel protest. Around this time I even paid 404.1p/gallon (88.9p/litre) in the Scottish Highlands. It seems that peak prices tend to occur in the autumn, and March, just as winter demand is tailing off, is often a low point in the year.
Even though fuel duty was cut by 1p/litre in March 2011 and has been frozen since, the continued high level of the international oil price has led to the March 2013 price being the highest ever in absolute terms, and equalling the record in "real" terms. Since the beginning of March, prices have, however, fallen back by 3-4 pence per litre.
Of the March 2013 price of 138.9p/litre, 81.1p or 58.4% went to the government (57.95p fuel duty and 23.15p VAT).
This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of keeping these statistics.
For information about current fuel prices in your local area, take a look at PetrolPrices.com.
¶ Note: this column represents the % increase over 5 years in the non inflation adjusted petrol price.
(Last updated April 2013)