Thursday, 28 July 2022

Supply and demand has a function which shows the lowest petrol/diesel prices within a certain radius of a chosen postcode.

It told me that the garage a few miles up the road had dropped it to 169.9p/litre, so I whizzed over there.

The 169.9p/litre was correct, but inevitably...
a) They had sold out "an hour ago, but we should be getting more in today".
b) The forecourt was full of new arrivals and recent arrivals manoeuvring around the pumps to find one that was still in service.
c) I thought sod it, I'm here now, I'll just fill up with the closest thing to proper petrol i.e. super for 184.9p/litre.


Able said...

Just for old times sake, and to put it in perspective, that's £7.72 and £8.43 a gallon (which if people could, or be bothered to, do basic maths would have led to riots in the streets and politicians hanging from lampposts even a couple of decades ago* (even accounting for inflation).

This country (and western civilisation) is lost, it failed. It went, not with a bang, but a whimper.

(*I'm old enough to remember the uproar at 1990 £2 a gallon)

James Higham said...

Glad I gave up driving.

Bayard said...

A, AFAICR, it was the uproar over petrol being £2 a gallon that led to it being sold by the litre. I also recall that there was also uproar when petrol hit £1 a gallon.

Mark Wadsworth said...

A, I can vaguely remember it being 33p/gallon, pre the Oil Crisis. My Dad always moaned about it.

Adjusted for real wage growth, that's about £4/gallon. So in real, real terms, £1.80/litre means it has doubled. Given the improvements in fuel economy, in terms of p/mile, it has barely changed.

Back in the Glory Days of early 2020, it was £1/litre, so this was about the same as in 1972, even before you adjust for fuel economy.

Is it 'too high'? As a motorist, I'd say yes. As an economist, I say no. Fuel duty is like LVT for roads/cars and an excellent source of taxation. There are more vehicles on the road than sixty years ago, so I guess European governments have pitched it 'about right'.

JH, that's one solution.

B, human psychology is weird. I do it in terms of p/mile.

Lola said...

I can recall 4s 11d per gallon. When I started driving it was 6s 8d per gallon. 3 gallons for £1.

Intriguingly the oil price has stayed roughly in line with the gold price. . So a lot of the price rise in road fuel is down to nationalised currency failure. Plus loony tunes taxes like the green levy and the fact that it is taxed on tax (but I do agree with MW that fuel duty is the 'correct' way to fund the road network - I don't like road pricing as the Powers That Be will abuse the information.

Mark Wadsworth said...

L, 6/8 in pre-decimal is about 33p post decimalisation. So I guess you started driving in 1970.

Road pricing is a nuisance plus surveillance. As are tolls. Fuel duty is nice and anonymous, you just pay it.

Lola said...

MW. Passed my test in July 1969....when it was 6s 7d per gallon. When I got my own car - a Mini Moke since you ask - it was 6s 8d. The Moke £215. reg no. GMB681C, so about 4 years old.

Mark Wadsworth said...

L, a Moke as in Beach Buggy?

Bayard said...

L, I heard that, when the US launched the petrodollar, the Arabs suspected they would be shafted if they agreed a price in dollars by the Yanks devaluing the dollar, so they pegged the price to gold. The US, as suspected, devalued the dollar and the price of oil shot up as a result (the Oil Crisis).
I have a vague feeling that it was you who I heard it from, in which case, apologies.
I remember, as a child, a friend of my parents' driving down our track very fast in a Mini Moke and, as she rounded a sharp bend, one of her children flew out the side. Luckily he was clutching a sleeping bag, there being no luggage space to speak of in the Moke, which he used to break his fall.

Lola said...

Only mine was RHD and did not have Minilites - Cooper S 4.5 inch steel wheels

Lola said...

Yes that could well have been me - I have certainly researched that gen for a client investment report newsletter.

The 1973 Oil crisis was all about that. When Nixon went off the Bretton Woods fake gold standard in 1971 the Arabs got pissed off that they were being paid in USD which was declining in value (had declined in value) - and rightly so.

Good paper out by Steve Baker on central bank / nationalised money failure here

James James said...

Fuel tax is simple and anonymous, but road pricing has one advantage: you can tax different roads differently, and at different times. Because busy roads aren't rationed by price, they are rationed by speed instead (traffic jams). This leads to people talking nonsense about building roads causing congestion ("induced demand"), when the reality is that if something (rush hour road capacity) is free, demand will be effectively infinite.

The London congestion charge was a big success.

Mark Wadsworth said...

L, excellent choice for a first car. I assume your parents pushed you to get something safe, practical and reliable.

JJ, yes, the London CC was (in that small area) a very good idea. Widening it to a huge area like North Circular is just spiteful money grabbing.

Congestion takes care of itself - if you are doing 1 mph in town, you are using a lot of fuel per mile (although these auto engine cut-off things are a boon, plus they reduce local pollution, I think, depends how much extra fuel you use when the engine fires up again).

So add together time wasted plus fuel (duty) wasted, there's your natural congestion charge. It's not 'free' and never was.

And there is the faff of setting up an online account and making sure to top up payments. Fine for a town or bridge that you use regularly, but if you visit a different town, there's yet another layer of logins and working out the rules and payments to remember.