Petrol Sales Crash As Consumers Choose Diesel

Petrol Sales Crash As Consumers Choose Diesel

Petrol sales have plummeted in the last five years, according to official figures, with retailers dispensing 5.4 billion fewer litres than five years ago.

In 2007, filling stations sold a total of 22.87 billion litres of petrol, the AA motoring group said.

But the latest Government figures revealed that last year, retailers dispensed 17.43 billion litres of petrol - a fall of almost 24%.

The combined sales of both petrol and diesel also fell over the period - by 9.3% to 34.16 billion litres in 2012.

The AA said that the total decrease was equivalent to 35 days of fuel sales being lost since the start of the credit crunch.

But diesel sales increased slightly over the last five years, in part due to companies buying the fuel directly from forecourts instead of storing it in depots, the AA said.

Sales of diesel rose from 14.8 billion litres in 2007 to 16.73 billion litres last year.

The organisation's president Edmund King said the increasing popularity of diesel cars and smaller vehicles had contributed to the overall decline in fuel sales.

"However, soaring pump prices have taken a huge toll on petrol sales more recently - during the 10p-a-litre price surges last March and October, pump sales of petrol fell by up to 5%," he added.

"The trouble is that, with global economic recovery, the stock market will predict greater oil and fuel demand and push up commodity values accordingly."

The AA said non-supermarket fuel retailers had been hardest hit by the sales slip, with petrol sales down 7.7% last year compared with 2011. Supermarkets saw a 0.6% decrease over the same period.

The RAC Foundation's director Professor Stephen Glaister warned that the UK's infrastructure could not cope with an increase in diesel's popularity.

"Our ageing refineries are not geared up to cope with growing demand for diesel and you can't just flick a switch to produce more," he said.

"Already we are a net importer of diesel and, if sales of diesel-powered cars continue to surge, our reliance on foreign imports will grow, especially if the economy recovers and mileage increases."

It comes as industry statistics revealed that new car registrations rose by 5.9% in March - the thirteenth consecutive month of growth.

Volumes were their highest since 2010 when the vehicle scrappage scheme was in place, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said.

Over 394,806 cars were registered in March, with sales of the mini and SUV vehicle types growing especially strongly.

The figures take registrations over the first quarter of the year to 605,198 units - an increase of 7.4%.