Petrol prices fall, but fleet managers should stay wary

A series of price cuts at the pumps spells good news for fleet operators, but some campaign groups argue that we are still being fleeced. And one supplier is planning for future uncertainty by offering fleet operators the chance to lock-in lower prices.

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The price-sensitive big four supermarkets have cut their prices by up to two pence per litre after campaigners argued that forecourt operators were using the Brexit vote as an excuse to keep prices unreasonably high.

Asda has imposed a price cap, so customers will not pay more than 105.7 pence per litre at any of its sites nationwide.

Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons have also cut their fuel prices in a supermarket price war.

But one campaign group, FairFuelUK, argues that the cuts don’t go far enough, and don’t accurately reflect the drop in wholesale costs.

Founder of the campaign Howard Cox said: “Our campaign supporters from UK motorists, hauliers and small businesses across the UK are incensed that in the five weeks since the EU referendum, significant falls in fuel wholesale prices have been ignored by retailers.

“We are told by some garage owners that they should not be blamed as they are not getting these published wholesale numbers and are being overcharged by as much as six pence per litre.

“So who is fleecing the motorist? What is the truth? It really is time for the Government to investigate the opaque pricing process at the pumps.”

The suggestion that garage owners aren’t getting the ‘advertised’ wholesale prices points to issues further up the supply chain, with larger companies apparently keeping prices high in the British market.

With uncertainty still present in post-Brexit Britain, fleet operators should remain wary of changes to oil prices, exchange rates and government policy towards fuel and taxation.

Royal Dutch Shell, the supplier, reported a 70% drop in profits in their second quarter, with cashflow dropping from $6.1 billion to $2.3 billion.

Even small economic signals could spook operators and could lead to prices shooting upwards.

Capped diesel cost could protect fleet operators

To help protect fleet operators from price fluctuations, BP’s commercial fuels business is offering fleets a new pricing structure. The structure would protect operators when prices rise, but allow them to benefit when prices fall.

Fleet manager budgets can be severely impacted by fluctuating fuel prices. BP’s Fuel Price Guarantee (FPG) caps the price paid on regular diesel for set periods and volumes, to give fleet managers more certainty over their costs and help protect profits.

Customers can get access to a BP fuel card, and they can pay the capped price at any of BP’s 1,260 outlets in the UK.