More price transparency at the gas station

style="float: right; margin-bottom: 10px; font-weight: 600;"Mon 27th Sep, 2021

Anyone who regularly takes their car to the gas station is familiar with this: the spontaneous glance at the signs when driving in, the quick comparison between gasoline and diesel, the noticeable price shifts, even between morning, noon and evening - and the eternal question: When is actually the best time to fill up? And in the meantime, some are probably also wondering how much it might cost to drive an electric car now? Or would these even be the right days for hydrogen? Often these were not yet really reliable calculations: Gasoline, diesel, electricity, gas?

As of October 1, this is now set to change. Larger service stations in Germany will then have to display a current "energy cost comparison" for the various types of drive on yellow-orange posters or digital displays. This implements a European Union regulation designed to make things clearer: Customers can now read off the costs, depending on vehicle size, for 100 kilometers, using seven different energy sources. From hydrogen to electricity to premium gasoline. The values are given for two vehicle sizes: Small and compact cars on the one hand, and mid- and luxury-class vehicles on the other. The figures are updated quarterly by the Ministry of Economics.

The aim of the official comparison is to provide customers with up-to-date figures that can be used to make quick calculations on the spot. According to the text of the law, the aim is to "support consumers' future purchasing decisions when choosing a passenger vehicle." Those who calculate and compare over a longer period of time what the energy for 100 kilometers costs for very different forms of propulsion may switch to the next new car. More transparency in refueling will help consumers make future purchasing decisions, so to speak.

And this is where the critics come in. The figures, which were published on the ministry's website even before the information and posting requirement began, suggest that the cost of driving 100 kilometers in an electric car is only half that of a gasoline-powered car. In concrete terms, this means that someone who drives the distance in a mid-range or luxury car fueled with premium gasoline pays 11.42 euros. If you drive an e-car, you have to fill up with electricity for 4.84 euros for the same distance. With LPG, the price would be 4.96 euros, and with hydrogen, 7.60 euros. Seen in this light, the next purchase decision should absolutely and unequivocally be in favor of an electric vehicle. Sounds simple? Not so simple, after all.

As correct as the price comparison is, the Association of the Petroleum Industry complains that it lacks the information that the "average household electricity price is used as a basis" for charging electric cars. And at home, it is usually cheaper than in public and on the road. This is a distortion that could easily be corrected, for example, by comparing average costs. In any case, the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW) says that the comparison "clearly shows that electric mobility is not only a climate-friendly alternative for many drivers but also a financially attractive one.

Photo by Michael Marais


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