Diesel is already cheaper than petrol at some supermarket forecourts, after major retailers cut prices by up to 2p a litre.
Analysis by the RAC motoring group said prices are likely to drop by another 4p a litre in the coming weeks as Morrisons, Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s all slashed up to 2p from the cost of diesel, as a result of falling wholesale prices.
Average diesel prices are now 118.98p a litre, with unleaded at 117.24p a litre. The diesel wholesale price has been lower than petrol since 27 May, which experts say means there is a good chance that the average price of diesel will soon go below petrol at the pumps. Diesel has historically cost more than petrol for a variety of reasons, including its more complex refining process costing more than petrol’s.
RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “We are now well on the way to seeing a UK fuel price flip – where the average price of diesel is, quite rightly, cheaper than unleaded at the pumps. It will also mean millions of families setting off on their summer break won’t have to pay quite as much when filling up the car.”
RAC Fuel Watch records show diesel was last cheaper than petrol 15 years ago, on 17 July 2001.
Mr Williams added: “Fifteen years ago when this happened last, diesel was cheaper than petrol for two and a half months, but with a new supply of diesel being produced from Saudi Arabia there is real chance we may see the diesel price staying below petrol for some considerable time.”
However, the cuts come days after the AA said that fuel retailers had been “plundering ordinary diesel car drivers to the tune of 4p to 6p a litre” since April. A spokesman for the motoring association said: “Although the supermarkets’ decision to lower the price of diesel below petrol’s is very welcome, particularly for tradesmen who haven’t been able to get fuel card discounts, this more realistic pricing has been too long in coming.”
Diesel is used by around a third of vehicles in Britain, but more of it is used every year because it powers most heavy goods vehicles, which consume more fuel than household cars.
Yesterday, Morrisons cut the price of diesel by 2p, followed by a similar reduction by Tesco. Asda said drivers will now pay no more than 112.7 pence per litre (ppl) across its 272 filling stations, while unleaded remains at 114.7ppl. Sainsbury’s is cutting up to 2p per litre off the price of diesel.
Peter Cattell, fuel director for Tesco, said: “With the summer holidays beginning, we’re helping our customers get away with friends and families by dropping the cost of diesel by up to 2ppl at all of our 500 filling stations.”
Mark Todd, petrol director for Morrisons, said: “This is a milestone in motoring and many younger drivers won’t remember the last time that diesel prices were lower than unleaded.”