Good news for motorists

The price of road fuel is falling. Petrol and diesel prices in the UK are now at their lowest level since February 2011. The average pump price for a litre of unleaded petrol has fallen to 130.44p in November – down nearly 8p per litre since September.

According to the AA, the reduction in price equates to a fall in the average monthly expenditure on petrol of a two-car family of £14.49 – down from £252.54 to £238.05. This saving can be used for spending on other things and can thus help to boost real aggregate demand. The fall in price has also helped to reduce inflation.

But will lower fuel prices lead to a rise in fuel consumption? In other words, will some of the savings people make when filling up be used for extra journeys? If so, how much extra will people consume? This, of course depends on the price elasticity of demand.

The following articles explain why the price of road fuel has fallen and look at its consequences.


Good news for motorists as fuel prices fall in the East ITN (22/11/13)


November fuel price update Automobile Association (22/11/13)
Finally there is good news for motorists as petrol prices hit lowest level since 2011 The Telegraph, Steve Hawkes (22/11/13)
Petrol prices fall to lowest level for almost three years as strong pound gives motorists relief on the forecourt This is Money, Lee Boyce (22/11/13)
Falling petrol prices boost motorists The Guardian (22/11/13)


Weekly road fuel prices Department of Energy & Climate Change
Europe Brent Spot Price US Energy Information Administration
Spot exchange rate, US $ into Sterling Bank of England


  1. Why have the prices of petrol and diesel fallen?
  2. Illustrate the fall in price of road fuel on a demand and supply diagram.
  3. How does the size of the fall in price depend on the price elasticity of demand for road fuel?
  4. If a fall in price results in a fall in expenditure on road fuel, what does this tell us about the price elasticity of demand?
  5. Why may the price elasticity of demand for road fuel be more elastic in the long run than in the short run?
  6. If a motorist decides to spend a fixed amount of money each week on petrol, irrespective of the price, what is that person’s price elasticity of demand?
  7. Using the links to data above, find out what happened to the dollar price of sterling and the Brent crude oil price between September and November 2013.
  8. How do changes in the exchange rate of the dollar to the pound influence the price of road fuel?
  9. If the price of oil fell by x per cent, would you expect the price of road fuel to fall by more or less than x per cent? Explain.
  10. Why do petrol prices vary significantly from one location to another?