Under any circumstances ever, Premium prices have always been a healthy 20 to 30% higher than regular petrol, but as many of our readers have wondered, why in the world is Premium so much more expensive than Regular?
And more importantly, do you even need to fill your tank with Premium? No, you do not need to fill your tank with Premium petrol. It is a waste of money and you should stop it immediately because it’s not going to clean your engine or deliver better performance. No amount of octane is going to make your used 2008 Toyota Camry run any better than it already is. The only reason you ever need premium petrol is if you’re one of the elites who happens to own a luxury automobile or a high performance sports car.
And we’re talking actual high performance, not your ‘Makeshift Sportscar’ (Honda Civic) with a few after-market modifications that sound like an angry lawnmower. Great, glad we’ve got that out of the way now, so why in the world is Premium so much more expensive?
Well, there are several answers to that question, and some of them aren’t all that obvious. First, a focus on domestic oil production has increased the amount of light crude oil being refined has created a surplus of naphtha, which is sort of a filler for petrol that is, unfortunately, a lower octane.
Octane is a rating that tells us how well a fuel operates in a high-performance engine. Low octane fuels can pre-ignite which can damage high-performance engines that compress fuels to greater degrees than regular engines. High octane fuels can resist the tendency to ignite early though until the proper time, delivering more performance and burning more cleanly thus reducing emissions.
Again though, this is only inside of high-performance engines, and over 80% of vehicles on the road today don’t need to use premium fuel.
Due to a surplus of low octane feedstock for petrol, producers are making more low octane petrol which drives up the price of premium fuel. With the plastics industry moving away from naphtha, it has also led to a surplus of the stuff which only encourages fuel producers to create lower octane fuel. In essence, there’s a smaller supply of Premium than other grades of petrol, which drives up the price. Government regulation has also played a part in driving up the cost of Premium fuel, thanks to environmental regulations that have banned or restrict the use of high octane additives.
Before you get all anti-government-ish and rant about government interference, consider that until they stepped in, fuel producers were adding lead to petrol and created a lead-poisoning epidemic so widespread that we are still unsure of the effects of decades of its use.
In many places the dirt on the side of major roadways were so toxic that after the lead ban it had to be shoveled away and stored in toxic dump sites.
So maybe paying a few extra cents so we all don’t suffer permanent brain damage is kind of a good thing, seeing as the industry isn’t going to magically grow a conscience and decide to start doing the right thing out of the sheer goodness of its heart. Thanks, government! Finally, the reason for the spike in Premium gas prices are that gas stations often know they can make up earnings shortfalls by spiking the price of Supreme.
A significant portion of the population- about 20%- has no choice but to buy Premium in order to fuel their luxury and high-end vehicles, and others will ignorantly buy the stuff thinking it’s going to make their sweet modded out Honda Civic run better when it isn’t. Either way, both customers will still pay the price spike, ensuring that Premium fuel remains expensive.
It’s not likely that we’ll see the price of Premium getting lower, and in fact as more efficient engines are created, eventually, all fuel may end up being Premium as these new efficient engines will require high octane fuel. Hopefully before then though we’ll all be driving electric vehicles and zooming down city streets in our awesome Eco-Friendly vehicles, though for now, we guess that’s just not very likely.
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17 November, 2019