Sales of petrol have plummeted to their lowest on record despite an average price below 130p a litre.
Sales figures from HM Revenue and Customs show that UK drivers this March bought 1.367 billion litres compared to 1.375 billion last March.
Lower petrol demand has led to a 24.7 per cent reduction in sales during the first quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2008, and between 2008 and 2013, the number of registered petrol cars fell 9.7 per cent.
Despite a 40 per cent increase in registered diesel cars boosting numbers by 2.901 million cars between 2008 and 2013, HMRC figures show that diesel fuel sales, including commercial use, between January and March this year were only five per cent higher than in the same period of 2008.
The AA believes the low may in part be explained by the reaction by households to the budgetary squeeze from domestic energy price hikes. However, local independent petrol stations don’t agree.
A spokesman for Kinders Service Station in Broughton said: “There’s been a definite shift to diesel for a while now, but we’re not seeing any decline in sales generally.”
A spokesman for the Old Oak Garage in Hoghton said: “At the moment we’re selling petrol very well because its cheap and we’re at supermarket prices.”
In December, a survey of AA members found 35 per cent would cut back on car use if domestic energy bills rose 10 per cent. That rose to 48 per cent among semi and unskilled worker and pensioner groups.
AA president Edmund King said: “Either the fear or reality of gas and electricity price surges has triggered an avoid-the-petrol-pump backlash to balance family spending or the trauma of speculator-driven road fuel price spikes over more than three years has seared into the psyche of the UK driving consumer.”