Along with the hottest summer the country has seen in recent years, motorists in India should brace themselves to pay even more for their choice of fossil fuel. On May 19, the prices of petrol and diesel hit their highest level yet: a litre of petrol for 83.75 and diesel at Rs 71.67 a litre. Two days later, on May 21, the cost of petrol has risen to Rs 84.40 a litre and Rs 72.21 for a litre of diesel. The differential between the two fuels is down to Rs 12.19 a litre.
At Rs 84.40 a litre in Mumbai, the country's financial capital, this is the highest price petrol has scaled since September 14, 2013 when it cost Rs 83.62 per litre. In Delhi, petrol costs Rs 76.57, Rs 79.24 in Kolkata and Rs 79.47 in Chennai.
In the week since May 14, after a 21-day hiatus when fuel prices remained frozen (petrol at Rs 82.48 and diesel at Rs 70.20 in Mumbai), which many presume were due to the elections in Karnataka, the price of petrol has risen by Rs 1.92 a litre and that of diesel by Rs 2.01 a litre.
In 2014, the highest price that petrol had scaled was Rs 82.07 per litre. The lowest prices that motorists paid – and happily at that – was Rs 62.75 a litre on March 10, 2016. After this date though, as per Autocar Professional’s analysis of fuel prices in the past two years, petrol prices never fell below Rs 65 a litre, continuously marching upwards.
The year 2017 began with petrol being priced at Rs 76.91 a litre and ended at Rs 77.87 a litre with the highest being Rs 79.99 a litre on October 3, 2017. The lowest price at which the fuel was sold last year was Rs 72.66 a litre on April 1, 2017.
Diesel no longer a delight
If you thought diesel vehicle owners are a happier lot when it comes to tanking up, then it’s worth doing a rethink. Today, in Mumbai, diesel costs Rs 72.21 a litre, the highest ever the ‘common man’s’ fuel has ever cost in India. The previous highest was Rs 67.26 a litre on August 31, 2014.
In Delhi, diesel is today priced at Rs 67.82 a litre, in Kolkata at Rs 70.37 and in Chennai at 71.59.
On March 10, 2016, the price of diesel in Mumbai was Rs 53.06 a litre, rose to Rs 55.64 a litre on August 16, 2016 and from then on, Mumbai never bought diesel at Rs 55 to a litre. The price rally has now hit Rs 71.67 a litre today, the highest ever recorded. Even in the other four key metros, today’s diesel price is the highest in their respective history with Delhi paying Rs 67.82 a litre, Kolkata Rs 70.37 and Chennai Rs 71.59.
In 2017, the lowest recorded rate for diesel in Mumbai was Rs 58.19 a litre and the highest was Rs 64.89 a litre at the start of the year.
Oil's on the boil the world over
India, which is one of the world's biggest crude oil importers, procures more than 80 percent from overseas to meet its oil needs.
As per a PTI report, India had imported 213.93 million tonnes (MT) of crude oil in FY2017 for US$ 70.196 billion or Rs 4.7 lakh crore. For FY2018, the imports are pegged at 219.15 MT for US$ 87.725 billion (Rs 5.65 lakh crore), according to the latest data available.
The basket of crude oil that India imports averaged US$ 55.74 per barrel in the April-February 2018 period as compared to US$ 47.56 a barrel in 2016-17 and $46.17 in 2015-16.
Every dollar per barrel change in crude oil prices impacts the import bill by Rs 823 crore (US$ 0.13 billion). The same is also the impact when currency exchange rate fluctuates by Re 1 per US dollar.
Now with global crude oil prices hitting $80 a barrel, the highest since November 2014, expect the prices of petrol and fuel to only go north.
Motorists to feel the pinch even more
For the Indian motorist, tanking up is going to be even costlier than it was a fortnight ago albeit there was a 21-day respite from April 24 onwards when oil marketing companies did not raise prices.
With taxes accounting for nearly half of the retail rate, India has the highest selling prices of petrol and diesel among South Asian countries.
The motorist in India is the fall guy. Even when global crude prices were at a record low, the government had hiked excise duty nine times between November 2014 and January 2016 to augment finances. There was only a sole incidence of an excise tax cut, in October last year by Rs 2 a litre.
During those 15 months, the excise duty on petrol was hiked by Rs 11.77 per litre and on diesel by 13.47 a litre, a move that helped the government collect excise of Rs 242,000 crore in 2016-17 from Rs 99,000 crore in 2014-15.
Other than the government doing its bit and more to stem the price rise of fuels and global crude cooling down, there's little the motorist can do other than grin and bear it. He/she, however, has a choice to drive/ride in a manner that can help s-t-r-e-t-c-h mileage to the max and also go in for fuel-sipping vehicles. Our list of Top 10 fuel-efficient cars (petrol and diesel), scooters and motorcycles is given below.
Follow these 10 handy tips to improve efficiency and get the best kilometres per litre from your car.
Also read: Petrol-diesel price differential narrows down to Rs 12 a litre
Top tips to get the maximum kilometres per litre from your car
India's Top 10 fuel efficient scooters
India's Top 10 fuel-efficient motorcycles
India's Top 10 fuel efficient diesel cars
India's Top 10 fuel efficient petrol cars
Petrol-diesel price differential narrows down to Rs 12 a litre
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