Filling up your car with petrol now costs £80

The Eco Experts
man with empty wallet by car at petrol station

The cost of fully refuelling the average car has risen to £79.70, the highest figure since records began.

A litre of petrol at the pump costs 144.9p per litre, according to government data that goes back to 2003.

That means UK drivers – who typically cover 6,600 miles per year – will now spend £1,206 per year to buy petrol, on average.

How big an increase is this?

The price of petrol has risen by 29% over the past 12 months.

In November 2020, a full refuel for the average 55-litre car set you back £61.88, with each litre priced at 112.5p.

The cost of a full tank has gone up by £17.82 since then.

For context, in the five years between November 2015 and November 2020, the price of a full tank increased by just £2.95.

Before the recent price spike, the cost of a full tank of petrol hadn’t increased by more than £1 per week since January 2011.

But in three consecutive weeks across October and November 2021, the weekly price of a full tank rose by £1.26, £1.29, and £1.04.

In October alone, the price for a litre of petrol increased by 7.6p, the single biggest monthly rise since the government’s records began in 2003.

Peaks and troughs in petrol prices are common. This is not.

Why has this happened?

The price of oil has doubled over the past year, according to the RAC – and experts believe it could keep rising.

Retailers have also generally raised their profit margin by 2p per litre, in an effort to recoup the losses they incurred during the first part of the COVID-19 pandemic.

And customers have faced even higher prices since the nationwide petrol crisis, which was prompted by a lack of lorry drivers.

The new, relatively eco-friendly E10 petrol is also partly to blame.

It contains 10% ethanol, which is double the amount of the previous standard fuel. As ethanol is expensive, this has increased the price by 1p per litre.

How do electric vehicles compare?

Electric vehicles are, on average, 3.4 times cheaper to refuel than petrol cars.

To charge an electric car, you’ll pay 17.4p per kWh (kilowatt-hour) on average, according to NimbleFins.

The average electric vehicle can be charged with a maximum of 61.4 kWh, the EV Database has calculated.

That means it’ll typically cost you £10.68 to charge your car. Electric vehicles usually run for 200 miles on a full battery, so that adds up to 5.34p per mile.

At £79.70 for a full tank, the average 55-litre petrol car – which has a range of 436 miles – costs 18.28p per mile. That’s 3.4 times more than its electric counterpart.

Josh Jackman Senior Writer

Josh has written about eco-friendly home improvements and climate change for the past three years. His work has featured on the front page of the Financial Times; he’s been interviewed by BBC Radio; and he was the resident expert in BT’s smart home tech initiative.

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