Cost of the open road

Piazza San Marco, Venice, Italy

Piazza San Marco, Venice, Italy

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With mobile home park operators slashing prices and some ferry fares cut to the bone, the argument for taking your car to Europe is more tempting because the stronger pound is making fuel cheaper abroad, says a report.

According to Post Office Travel Money’s Motoring on the Continent report, British drivers in Europe will pay up to 10.4 per cent less for fuel this year compared with 2010, with Andorra, Luxembourg and Spain the cheapest places to fill up. However, Italy is the priciest place in the eurozone to take your car with diesel at £1.47 a litre.

Only eight per cent of Britons are deterred from driving across the eurozone by the cost of petrol or diesel, says the report – although fuel costs have surged since 2007 by 47 to 84 per cent. But British drivers will pay up to 8.4 per cent less for unleaded petrol and 10.4 per cent less for diesel because of the strength of sterling.

The cheapest fuel can be found in Andorra, where unleaded costs £1.13 a litre. The £1.03 for a litre of diesel is 10.4 per cent lower than in 2011 and 27 per cent cheaper than Britain’s recent £1.41, though that has now eased a little.

Luxembourg and Spain (both £1.21 per litre) join Andorra in offering the lowest-priced fuel among 18 countries surveyed.

Filling the tank with unleaded petrol in those countries for a 1,000 mile journey costs more than £10 less than a year ago (Luxembourg: £182.48 against £193.47; Spain: £183.82 against £196.68).

Three in five drivers questioned by the Post Office had driven in France and over a quarter in Belgium. Both countries are among the most expensive places to fill up – though unleaded petrol prices fell more (8.6 per cent) in Belgium than in any other country surveyed.

At £1.49 for a litre of unleaded petrol in France and £1.48 in Belgium, it could pay motorists to fill up in the UK because unleaded fuel is 13-14p a litre cheaper on this side of the Channel. The opposite is the case for diesel users, because diesel in the UK is 6p more expensive than France and 12p more than in Belgium.

Andrew Brown, Post Office head of travel money, says: “A good tip is to fill up before leaving the UK if travelling to France or Belgium in a petrol car, divert into Luxembourg if travelling south through eastern France or detour into Andorra en route to Spain. By contrast, diesel drivers should fill up as soon as they arrive on the Continent.”

www.postoffice.co.uk/holidaymotoring2012.

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