I’ve just spent an enjoyable two weeks touring round western Europe, most of the travel being in my trusty car, clocking up just under 2,000 miles in the process.
Obviously driving that far means I had to make a few visits to petrol stations. Now my car is a diesel vehicle and here in the UK diesel is more expensive than unleaded and I pay around £1.18 a litre – a say around and that’s something I’ll return to later on.
Of course most of us know most of the cost of fuel is tax, much to the delight of the tree hugging greens for whom the internal combustion engine is an anathema.
However the amount of tax was really hammered home on mainland Europe. None more so than in Luxembourg. Indeed you don’t need any signs to tell you you’ve entered Luxembourg – you know you’ve entered the country as you suddenly encounter eight to ten petrol stations within a few hundred metres of entering the country.
Well Luxembourg don’t charge as much tax on their fuel, so a litre of diesel works out at 76p, whilst unleaded is 87p a litre – as a result drivers from neighbouring countries flock into Luxembourg to buy their fuel.
The Luxembourg government are happy, yes their rate of tax is lower but the increased amount of fuel they sell means the income from the taxation is actually higher than it would be if they charged a higher rate.
Not that fuel in neighbouring countries is that expensive in comparison to the UK. Germany charges £1.05 for unleaded and 89p for diesel, Belgium £1.08 for unleaded and 90p for diesel, France 99p for unleaded and 83p for diesel. I could go on but you get the drift – fuel in mainland Europe is cheaper than in the UK and it’s all down to tax.
The other interesting point is all the other European countries charge more for petrol than diesel, although as I write one supermarket has finally adjusted its prices so diesel is 1p a litre cheaper than unleaded - a step in the right direction.
How much would I be charged if I put 2 litres in my tank (that’s the minimum you can purchase). Purchasing exactly two litres I should be charged £2.358 but I wouldn’t be would I.
So how about outlawing the ridiculous practice of pricing fuel in tenths of a penny? It’s one big con.