R20 per litre: November fuel price hikes giving you a headache? Here's what to do about it

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  • Are you ready to pay almost R20 per litre of fuel?
  • AA predicts rapid rise of fuel cost to continue unabated.
  • Petrol price has risen by 30 per cent in the past 11 months in SA.
  • For motoring news, go to Wheels24

South Africans must brace for impact at the end of October as the country is set to experience record-breaking highs at fuel pumps when it comes time to fill up with petrol. According to the Automobile Association of South Africa (AASA), current data predicts fuel price hikes of catastrophic proportions at the end of October for November. 

AA spokesmen say the current forecast shows petrol rising by 99 cents per litre. Diesel and illuminating paraffin will increase, too, by a whopping R1.42 per litre. This price hike will push 95 unleaded (ULP) inland above R19 a litre (close to R19.30/l in most instances). As diesel is unregulated, it's expected to cost around R17 a litre at some forecourts. 

Taking this potential increase into account, the price of a litre of fuel inland (95 ULP) will have increased from R14.86 per litre in January 2021 to R19.30/l in November 2021 – a 30 per cent increase over 11 months.

"The hikes in diesel and illuminating paraffin would be the largest in South African history, bearing in mind that this is only based on half a month's data. R20 a litre for petrol is now a realistic scenario before the end of 2021," says the AA, adding that it sees little hope of improvement before the end of October.

fuel gauge with red needle
Fuel running on empty?
How to stretch your tank a little bit further

While it's particularly frustrating that the fuel cost is rising unabated, you can look to change your mobility habits and patterns to cut down on your fuel use per month. There are several ways for you to get to where you need to be on time without putting additional strain on your vehicle's engine, resulting in more fuel use.

Here are three things to try to save on your monthly fuel bill:

1. Drive less

Seriously, we should all try to drive less if we want to reduce our fuel consumption and spend less on fuel every month. Since the lockdown began in 2020, numerous South Africans have been working remotely, which has already helped save on fuel bills for most households. It makes sense; if you drive less, you will use less fuel. 

Think about how you can utilise online shopping outlets to do the grocery runs on your behalf or perhaps arrange carpools for shopping and leisure trips with family and friends instead of hitting the road alone or two-up in a vehicle. Of course, the ever-present danger of Covid-19 might prevent you from packing the family bus with people to ensure social distancing is maintained, but it does make more sense to pool your resources if you are looking to save on monthly fuel costs. You can even share the school runs, alternate with a friend or family to drop or fetch the kids from school or extracurricular activities; it's up to you; do what you can to drive less to save money.

Are you thinking of trading in your car for something new that's lighter on gas? Let us know what you're thinking of buying and why in the comments section below, or send us an email here.

2. Stay relaxed

If you have to drive and do it daily, you should change up your departure times to go in less congested traffic. You can use apps such as Waze or Google Maps to plot your route to the office or gym or meeting to see that things are all clear, and if you spot any challenges along the road in your planning stage, you can easily choose to take another way, or you could perhaps telecommute to your task. 

MasterDrive managing director, Eugene Herbert, advises all road users to plan their trips ahead of time, no matter how close or far from home you'll be travelling. He explains that by planning, you'll be more relaxed in the driver's seat and that you'll be able to focus on fuel-saving driving techniques instead of rushing to get to your destination on time. With more time on your hands and by being more relaxed, you'll be able to shift through the vehicle's gears earlier, and you'll be less hasty with your throttle input when pulling away from stops. Staying relaxed will help you anticipate the traffic flow more effectively to ensure you aren't braking and accelerating too much, which wastes fuel.

3. Change cars

If you're driving a car that's a known fuel guzzler, and you're in a favourable financial position that allows you to change vehicles, now might be just the right time to get into something more economical. We're not saying that everybody should immediately go out and buy econoboxes and A-segment cars, but we are saying that perhaps you can still have your cake and eat it too.

For example, if you're driving a high-performance V8 sports car, and you are a genuine driving enthusiast who must bury the loud pedal at least a few times on your drive, you could trade your thunder mobile in for a four-cylinder sports car? Seriously, we love cars here at Wheels24, and the more cylinders, the better, we think, but the reality of times dictate that we have to be smart when it comes to spending money on mobility. If you can afford the fuel for your V8, you probably won't be reading this, but if you're a petrolhead that's in turmoil, you have choices out there to move to more economical vehicles without sacrificing performance. It's the same when it comes to SUVs. Why pay for a 4x4 drivetrain when you are only going to Mozambique once a year? Perhaps it's time to look at a compact SUV, front-wheel drive, and with some eco-driving technology to help you save on mobility costs.

Here are a few cars we think could work as fuel-savers without leaving you feeling like you've compromised on the vehicle you're driving:

This is a Fiat 500 Sport
2021 Fiat 500 TwinAir Sport

1. Fiat 500 Sport - It's compact and cute and will use less than 5l/100km if you are gentle with it. The two-door layout and relatively small boot might not work for families, but if you're a young exec who is currently driving a hot hatch, you could still get your thrills here and save tons of money at the same time when it comes to filling up with petrol.

2021 Kia Pegas
2021 Kia Pegas

2. Kia Pegas - Subjectively speaking, the recently introduced Kia Pegas won't set your heart on fire if you look at it, but man, oh man, once you drive it, you realise just how honest and fuss-free cars used to be before OEMs started loading them with tech. Of course, the Pegas will work well as a small family car, and it will use less than 6 litres per 100km if driven with an economy mindset. Sure, it lacks sophisticated safety and technology features, but it's a great starter car for the family with a large boot and a frugal engine that will help you save on fuel bills.

Mini Cooper SE electric car

3. Mini Cooper SE - If you are in a solid economic standing and you can afford to buy something a little bit more premium, you can even say bye-bye to fuel costs altogether by buying SA's cheapest electric car, the Mini Cooper SE. We recently lived with the Cooper SE for a weekend, and while we thought we'd run out of range on day one, we were able to cover an entire weekend's worth of errands and running around without any form of range anxiety. 

The electric Mini won't allow you to jump in and drive province to province, as it doesn't have the range for that, and you will have to spend time charging at chargers, extending your travel time if you plan on taking cross-continent journeys. But, if you plan to commute from home to your office or around the suburbs, this is the best car for you to move into to start a fuel-free motoring journey today.

Wheels24's Janine Van der Post says: "I'd go as far as adding two more little city cars here, being the Hyundai Grand i10 and the Suzuki Vitara Brezza auto. Two very different vehicles, but similar in size. 

The Hyundai Grand i10 looks so much better than previous models, and it's even more agile than before. It's one of those get-in-and-go kinds of cars and perfect for city runs.

Pricing starts from R199 900 for this model, and power is rated at 49kW and 94Nm for the 1.0-litre derivative. Hyundai reckons fuel consumption is 5.9-litres/100km, but real-world figures is more 6.9-litres/100km in our experience.

Still, it's a small car, and it's easy to drive, and the fuel bill is a lot easier than that of a larger SUV. 

The Brezza auto, which is slightly bigger than the Hyundai, is a charm in traffic and the daily school run. Suzuki sells this car from R244 900. It's incredibly spacious in terms of legroom in the rear and also has a sufficient boot size. Fuel consumption is rated at 6.2-litres/100km, but we get a 7.1-litres/100km reading. It's still relatively low for normal driving conditions and a great consideration if you're looking to downsize and save on your fuel bills.

Reference: AASA

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