Skyrocketing costs not only are wrecking havoc on the price of a gallon of gasoline, they’re also having a serious impact on diesel fuel. Although diesel fuel in diesel-powered cars and trucks produces 20 to 30 percent better fuel economy over gasoline, diesel’s advantage has hit a roadblock with reports of prices being as much as 20 to 30 percent higher for diesel versus gasoline.
The American Petroleum Institute says that while the demand for regular gasoline is slipping, diesel use is actually increasing and production is at capacity. And, since diesel is a close relative of home heating oil, costs could rise even more in the winter.
Another contributing factor is the investment refiners have made in recent years to reconfigure plants to produce cleaner, reduced-sulfur diesel. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, refining costs make up 21 percent of the cost of diesel, whereas refining costs for regular gasoline are only 8 percent of the total costs.
Add to this the fact that diesel engine vehicles are more expensive. The higher compression and tighter tolerances needed to ignite diesel fuel require the engine be designed and built with greater weight and strength. In addition, an EPA mandate affecting diesel engines produced after January 1, 2007, requires a number of new features that contribute to higher prices, such as diesel particulate filters, revised catalytic converters and EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculation) valves that comply with the new ultra low diesel soot emission limits.
The diesel dilemma affects businesses the most. Whereas consumers can choose to drive less when prices go up, trucks, which are the biggest users of diesel, have no choice. When diesel use doesn’t fall, demand is not susceptible to price fluctuation.