Car fuel prices rise further

The price for petrol keeps increasing, new figures show.

Motorists’ association ÖAMTC announced that one litre of diesel fuel cost 1.473 Euros on average yesterday (Tues). The organisation pointed out this was a significant increase compared to last Friday’s average price of 1.439 Euros per litre, let alone to prices 10 years ago. One litre of diesel cost 0.72 Euros in Austria in 2002. ÖAMTC and Arbö, Austria’s other leading car club, have claimed that petrol stations are charging more and more for fuel despite unchanged or slightly decreasing international trading prices.

A directive by People’s Party’s (ÖVP) Economy Minister Reinhold Mitterlehner – whose party forms a government coalition with the Social Democrats (SPÖ) – means that service stations must no longer increase their petrol prices several times a day. The law says that petrol stations are allowed to jack up prices once within 24 hours. The restriction allows filling station managers to lower the price for petrol as often as they want.

There are more than 2,500 petrol stations in Austria. Their number is not expected to climb significantly in the foreseeable future despite rising car sales and the expected traffic increase during the approaching summer holiday season. Petrol station managers claim that their profit per litre of fuel sold was not more than one Eurocent due to various taxes and charges, tough competition and high rents.

Around 2,700 service stations did business in Austria last year, according to experts. Especially motorway petrol stations are under fire for excessive prices. The situation of independent service stations which are not part of one of the dominating chains and energy sector companies could lead to legal procedures shortly. They accuse suppliers of mineral oil products – which often manage petrol stations themselves – of charging excessively high prices. The Austrian Competition Authority (BWB) might examine the matter.

BWB officials said yesterday that the price for Eurosuper petrol kept climbing while diesel fuel was currently less expensive than in January. Service stations in Styria are the cheapest at the moment, according to analysis by BWB experts. They also found that drivers had to pay the most in Vorarlberg, Tyrol, Salzburg and Carinthia.

The BWB ordered Austria’s biggest mineral oil and petrol station enterprises to comment on the current price developments. The authority explained it had decided to take a closer look at their pricing policies. An increasing number of drivers and organisations have complained at the BWB about the price hikes, according to reports.

Petrol stations are in the firing line for jacking up their fuel prices every Easter when many people go on holiday by car. Figures show that car fuel has never been as costly in Austria as last month. But researchers also make aware of the inflation. They point out that prices were much higher 30 to 40 years ago. Experts are at odds over whether petrol price increases and higher costs for car insurance and repairs will give Austria’s cycling and public transport initiatives a substantial boost. Over 356,000 cars were bought in Austria in 2011 – more than ever before. This means that 4.51 million vehicles are currently in use in the country.