Today's focus is on motoring matters

A planned British ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars was thrown into chaos yesterday after Brussels watered down its own restrictions amid opposition from the German auto industry.

Experts and politicians warned that British rules due to take effect in 2030 are untenable following the European climbdown, which will allow internal combustion engines as long as they burn carbon-neutral alternatives.

The European Union will now ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars from 2035, but permit e-fuels following a backroom compromise.

The Telegraph says sources suggested that Whitehall was considering following the Commission's lead by also allowing an e-fuel exemption. British carmakers Aston Martin and McLaren are already understood to be examining e-fuels as an option for powering future models.

Diesel is being sold for about 17p per litre more on average than petrol, despite wholesale costs falling to similar levels.

Typical diesel prices are £1.64 per litre compared with £1.47 per litre for petrol, while both are priced at about £1.15 wholesale, according to the RAC.

It said the difference was "scandalous" and that cuts in the wholesale price had not been passed on to customers.

Retailers said they "understood the cost pressures" drivers faced.

Supermarkets and private retailers buy fuel on the wholesale market to sell to consumers.

The RAC, which tracks and campaigns on fuel prices, said diesel wholesale prices had fallen and were now the same as petrol on average.

Difference at the pump

But Simon Williams, fuel spokesman for the motoring group, told the BBC there was "still more than 17p difference at the pump" which he described as "absolutely shocking".

He said that, given the amount wholesale prices had dropped, forecourts should have already reduced pump costs for diesel to about £1.52, and a further cut to £1.47 in the coming weeks should feed through.

But Mr Williams said larger supermarkets, which dominate sales, had been given "plenty of time" to pass on lower prices to customers.

However, the British Retail Consortium, which represents supermarkets, said: "Retailers understand the cost pressures facing motorists and will do everything they can to offer the best value-for-money across petrol forecourts."

The trade body did not comment on the disparity in prices directly, but said because prices at the pump tend to lag behind wholesale prices the recent falls in diesel wholesale prices were still filtering through to consumers.

FTSE 100

The UK's top share index, the FTSE 100, was up 19 points at 7,504 shortly after opening this morning, following yesterday's 12-point gain.

Brent crude futures were 0.55% higher at $79.08 a barrel.

Companies reporting today

  • Full-year results: Next. For more on Next's latest acquisition, click here.

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