The RAC is calling on fuel retailers to pass on savings on diesel after the wholesale price of diesel remained cheaper than petrol for all of June.

In the RAC’s Fuel Watch report for June it described the price of diesel as the “elephant in the room” with wholesale prices 1ppl to 3ppl lower than petrol yet the average price of a litre of diesel is 120ppl, compared to 117ppl for petrol.

It said while some retailers have closed the gap between petrol and diesel, the vast majority continue to keep a significant gap between the two fuels with diesel often 5ppl more expensive. It added that the latter group may be operating on wafer thin margins on petrol in order to remain competitive and trading this off against bigger margins on diesel in order to balance the books.

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “The retail price of diesel has almost become a taboo subject despite 2.4bn litres being sold in May, compared to just 1.5bn litres of petrol. While there are twice as many petrol cars on the road, the increase in diesel usage shown in government statistics and the new car sales figures which show more than 50% of cars and light commercial vehicles leaving the showroom are powered by diesel, confirm that we are increasingly relying on diesel for both business and private use.

“Not only are diesel drivers now being demonised due to the increasing concerns over harmful nitrogen dioxide and particulate emissions, they are consistently having to pay a premium for their fuel. And, all this comes after years in which the taxation system has encouraged motorists to buy low carbon dioxide emitting vehicles. This has led to a big take-up of small fuel efficient diesel vehicles by motorists believing their choice of vehicle was good for the environment as well as their pocket.

“While retailers are obviously free to choose how much they charge for petrol and diesel, we believe that motorists deserve to be treated fairly and that means forecourt prices that reflect the wholesale market.”

Williams added: “Essentially, what is required is a fundamental re-balance of pricing in the retail fuel market. We need greater transparency and a fairer pricing model for both petrol and diesel. We realise that with more and more forecourts shutting up shop every month that fuel retailing may not be as profitable as it once was, but there seems to be a clear intention to make more money from a higher diesel price while at the same time being seen to maintain a lower petrol price.

“We as a nation of motorists are far more focused on petrol prices and therefore there is a perceived benefit from a retailer’s point of view in keeping petrol prices lower for the country’s 20m petrol car owners than it is for the 10m-plus diesel car drivers.”