'National fuel crisis' as electric car ownership surges - THE TELEGRAPH
Britain faces a “national fuel crisis”, the RAC has warned, as spiralling petrol costs accelerate the shift to electric vehicles.
It now costs nearly £98 to fill a petrol tank and nearly £102 to fill a diesel tank, with crude prices continuing to climb as Russia attacks Ukraine and sparks emergency planning for fuel shortages in Ireland.
Since just the end of May, the price of petrol has climbed nearly 4p per litre to 177.88p on average while diesel has climbed 2p a litre to 185p on average.
Simon Williams, RAC fuel spokesman, said further government intervention was “urgently needed”, such as a further fuel duty cut or a VAT cut.
He said: “As it is, drivers surely won’t be able to cope unless something is done to help.
“This is fast becoming a national crisis for the country’s 32m car drivers as well as countless businesses.”
Some drivers are taking drastic action. Battery-powered cars accounted for one in eight new models last month, compared with one in 10 in April.
The number of electric models purchased last month surged to 15,448, a 20pc jump on a month earlier. It was a 17.7pc increase compared with the same month in 2021.
The rise of electric vehicles is accelerating as carmakers battle supply shortages and ration parts, favouring electric cars. Car dealers reported their worst May trading in three decades, barring the same month in 2020 when showrooms were forced to close.
Overall car sales dropped 20.6pc, or by 32,000, in May to 124,000 compared with the same month year earlier figures by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) revealed.
Mr Williams said he expected worse to come on fuel prices, with the average litre of petrol expected to climb above 180p this week and diesel to move further towards 190p.
Brent crude hit $120 per barrel on Monday morning amid doubts that increased output targets among major producers will help ease tight supply.
Limited refining capacity is adding to the pressure on the prices of refined products, while exchange rates also play a role as refined fuel is sold in US dollars.
Ireland, which lacks refining capacity, is considering ordering people to work from home under coronavirus lockdown-style emergency plans.
The Irish government discussed limiting car travel, cutting the speed limit on motorways and fuel rationing, as well as a stay at home order for non-essential workers.
Dublin lifted rules enforcing working from home in January this year but the government and state agencies discussed bringing back the rule during an emergency planning exercise.
The government simulated three fuel shortage scenarios during the planning exercise, the Irish Independent reported. They included a 20pc shortfall in demand, which would threaten supplies to emergency services and fuel stations running out of petrol, and 35pc, which would trigger government rationing.
The most extreme scenario considered was if gas and oil supplies were so badly hit by the war in Ukraine that demand for agriculture and electricity generation could not be met in Ireland.
If fuel rationing was introduced, those hoping to buy petrol would be divided into essential workers, such as farmers and food producers, and three lower tiers. The lowest tier would be drivers making non-essential journeys.
Only the roughly 100 critical service stations in Ireland would be stocked with fuel and they would only sell petrol to essential and emergency workers.
Drivers with an odd number at the end of their number plate would only be allowed to drive or buy petrol on alternate days under the emergency plan. Odd numbers could refuel on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday and those with an even number on a Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
“All of this happening is very unlikely but to have it discussed openly when we know the situation in Ukraine was an eye-opener,” a government source told the Irish Independent.
Kevin McPartlan, CEO of Fuels for Ireland, said the emergency planning was “prudent”. Despite the war in Ukraine and EU sanctions on Russian oil, Irish stocks were still in a strong position, he said.