Record petrol prices hit pockets

By Amy McGillivray, Teuila Fuatai

Petrol prices have hit record levels but owners of one independent Tauranga petrol station say they are doing their best to keep their prices down.

Deirdre and Wayne Sowry, owners of Waimapu Garage on Oropi Rd, say they want to look after the locals.

"So many of our customers are locals and we'll just look after our customers as much as we can," Mrs Sowry said.

Their usual practice was to match the price of other stations but that is no longer the case.

They were charging $2.19.9 for a litre of 91 while Z on Hewletts Rd and Caltex on Cameron Rd were yesterday charging $2.22.9 per litre.

"We just decided let's keep it down this time," she said. "We'll hold it until next week sometime and see what everyone else is doing then we might have to raise it a bit but we're going to try to stay 3c under."

BP on Maunganui Rd was also charging $2.19.9 per litre yesterday while Gull on Hewletts Rd and Mobil on Chapel St were the cheapest, selling it for $2.14.9.

Petrol prices hit a national average of $2.22.9 per litre this week, topping the previous high of $2.22 in May 2011.

Papamoa East resident Lindsay Knipe has been feeling the effects of the high cost of petrol recently.

"It has made an impact on my finances now that it's going up. I've never had to budget for petrol before but I'm really having to look after my pennies and budget for it," he said.

Mr Knipe is cutting back on the amount of driving he is doing and is now making an effort to walk or cycle whenever he can.

Gate Pa resident Shayne Anderson chooses to ride his scooter most of the time rather than use his car, in an effort to save on petrol. He estimates he would spend about $5 a week on petrol for his scooter as opposed to about $35 for his car.

Adrenalyn Motorcycles owner Simon Horne said he often sees a spike in the number of scooters sold when petrol prices rise steeply. "When the price first went to $2 there was a big increase in people buying scooters. If it stays this price, in spring we'd expect an increase," he said.

Safeway Auto Actions general manager Johnny Kolk said every time there is a price hike people start looking at smaller cars again.

Despite soaring petrol prices and rising living costs there has been a recent drop in the number of food packages being handing out in the area, Western Bay of Plenty St Vincent de Paul society president Des Mulhern said.

AA spokesman Mark Stockdale warned petrol prices were likely to get even steeper.

"Wages have increased [and] transport costs have increased. And therefore, it costs more to ship fuel and truck fuel."

Mr Stockdale said fuel companies were also partly to blame for the prices.

Motorists in regional centres had a better chance at saving on fuel than their big-city counterparts, he said.

"Because of regional competition amongst some of the stations, sometimes the prices in rural areas can be lower."

Several stations in Rotorua were offering prices below the $2 a litre mark this week, giving motorists there the nation's best deal on fuel.

But despite spiralling petrol costs, University of Canterbury economics Professor Eric Crampton said prices were actually higher in 1981, when inflation-adjusted.

"Back then [1981] petrol prices were less than 60 cents a litre. While that sounds wonderful, when you adjust for inflation, that is $2.46 per litre in today's dollars, much more than we are paying now," he said.

Five economy tips

  • Check your tyre pressure

  • Remove all unnecessary objects

  • Go easy on the accelerator and brake pedals

  • Watch your air con

  • Turn your engine off if you're standing still for more than 30 seconds. Also avoid peak hour traffic.

Source: Automobile Association

- Bay of Plenty Times

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