Discount petrol stations turn up the heat for established firms

Hundreds of drivers have fuelled their cars at a new discount petrol station in Vienna.The station – managed by Salzburg-based businessman Markus Friesacher in cooperation with discount supermarket chain Hofer – started doing business in the city’s Simmering district yesterday (Tues).One litre of diesel fuel and regular petrol costs 0.99 Eurocents in a special offer which ends tonight, around 50 Eurocents less than the price of market-leading rivals BP, OMV and Shell.The new station is the first opened by Friesacher in the federal capital and the 26th to go into operation in Austria, where drivers are bracing for another increase of the mineral oil tax rate announced for next year.Speaking about his concept, the businessman explained that he has managed to save costs by presenting a no-frills service. Customers fill their tanks and pay by credit card. No extra services such as a shop or car wash facility are available: “We invest a third less in our stations than our rivals do,” the former Formula 3000 racing driver said.Friesacher claimed Salzburg has become the Austrian province with the second-lowest average petrol price rates since his stations opened. The development came after years of being the second-most expensive one.The entrepreneur, who announced plans last February to increase the number of petrol stations to 27 by the end of this year, refused to reveal whether he would open any more stations.Friesacher is cooperating with Hofer, the Austrian subsidiary of German budget supermarket company Aldi.Federal statistics agency Statistik Austria announced only yesterday that Austria’s October inflation rate of two per cent would have reached just 1.4 per cent had mineral oil products like car fuel not become 15 per cent more expensive compared to the same month of 2009.Meanwhile, the new Viennese city parliament coalition of Social Democrats (SPÖ) and Greens said it wanted to increase the share of cycling in overall traffic in the city over the coming five years. Studies have shown public transport makes around 35 per cent of all traffic in the capital, while car traffic has a share of 32 per cent.SPÖ Mayor Michael Häupl and Greens Vice Mayor Maria Vassilakou also presented plans to invest more into public transport to make the service a more attractive alternative to commuters.The city’s public transport agency Wiener Linien said recently that, with 172 kilometres, Vienna had the fifth-largest tram network in the world. The company announced that a survey identified Melbourne in Australia as city with the biggest on the planet with 245 kilometres.Wiener Linien introduced a 24-hour weekend underground train service in September after 54 per cent of the 277,00 residents participating in a referendum held in February backed the suggestion. The night-time U-Bahn operation costs 5.1 million Euros a year.Taxi drivers stressed they had registered a 10 per cent customer drop on weekends since the new 24-7 underground service went into operation.