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Think fuel prices are bad? Think again…

The cost of fuel has to be one of the biggest stumbling blocks preventing people from getting mobile in the UK.

Cars are expensive enough, especially once the chancellor has charged you for use of his roads, the mayor for entry to his city and the insurer for having the bare-faced cheek to own a car and use it in the real world.

However, the recent drops in the price of crude oil mean that the price of fuel has dropped too. It might feel like this is the first time that has ever happened – ever – but you might be surprised to hear that nearly 100 years ago the story was very different.

The 2014/2015 drop

Fuel hit a peak of 141.9p per litre back in April 2012, causing us all to nervously oil the chains on our pedal bikes as we prepared to be priced off the road. However, the recent drop in the material cost means it’s now (as of December 2014) fallen to 119.8p per litre. This means that £100 now buys you 83.45 litres of petrol, 12.98 more than you’d have got in 2012.

That means a Toyota Yaris Hybrid, one of the most efficient cars in Britain, would be able to travel an extra 244 miles for your £100 of fuel. That’s enough to get from our offices in Holborn, London to Blackpool – just in time for jellied eels! Thankfully, this trend is set to continue downwards so you, your £100 and your Yaris may yet make it to Scotland!

So what? Fuel is still extortionate…

And so you might well think. It’s hard to gain a sense of perspective as we’ve been subject to ballooning prices effectively since the fuel crisis hit in 1973. A cursory glance over a historical list of petrol prices seems to back this point of view up – it seems to cost gradually more since the start of the twentieth century then increases exponentially from the mid-1970s onwards. This doesn’t, however, take one crucial statistic into account – inflation.

If we look at a list of historical fuel prices through the lens of inflation we find some very interesting results. Firstly, fuel is comparatively cheap now compared to 1917. Unsurprisingly, given there was during World War One, fuel was a vital commodity so getting a hold of it wasn’t easy. Hence its price – just shy of 300p per litre, the highest ever in the UK.

Just 10 years after this peak, fuel prices hit their lowest price. In 1927 petrol was just 70p per litre, after being adjusted for inflation. That means, if we fitted a flux capacitor to our Toyota Yaris Hybrid and transported it and our £100 budget back to 1927, we’d be able to travel 2,675 miles for our money. That’s enough to drive from our offices to northern Syria – though we might take a rain check on that!

Go forth and burn petrol…

Now you’re properly clued up about fuel prices it’s time to see how much of it you can save. Check out our guide to the most fuel efficient city cars to help you save money at the forecourt.

The AA petrol prices 1896 to 2004

Toyota Yaris

Practical small car with hybrid option and excellent build quality
£13,320 - £20,800
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