Fuel prices per km: propaganda for electricity

Since last December, a European directive allows gas station attendants to display the cost of fuel per 100 km. Don’t panic: the price per liter, the only indisputable pricing method, will always be the authentic one, and which will appear on the totems of service stations. Behind this new sticker, the idea is to offer motorists a means of comparison between the various types of fuels in order to turn to the cheapest. With a methodology developed by the European Union, which consists in calculating the average consumption of the three best-selling car models for each type of fuel, applying the average price per liter.

The idea is good and it has the great merit of showing the cost that really matters to motorists. On the other hand, the methodology is more debatable: by wanting too much to simplify and standardize, we forget that fuel consumption varies greatly depending on the terrain, the type of road taken, the driving style… Not even to mention the car model. Our tests prove it: among the most fuel-efficient petrol engine model tested last year, the Toyota Yaris hybrid (4.3 l / 100 km during our test, i.e. € 6.2 unleaded 95 per 100 km ) and most

greedy, the Bentley Flying Spur (15 l / 100 km during our test, or 22.5 € of SP98 for 100 km), there is a chasm.

At least, the value of 8.4 € per 100 km calculated by the French government (the prices displayed vary in each European country depending on the most popular models according to the markets) correspond fairly realistic to what claims a city car of the Renault Clio or Peugeot 208 type in mixed use. A motorist who only makes urban trips or almost will consume more. The estimate of € 6.30 per 100 km advanced for diesel is not unrealistic either.

LPG disadvantaged by the government’s calculation

Regarding LPG, the announced average of € 7.10 seems excessive to us. Today, very few brands offer this type of engine and only one manufacturer really stands out: Dacia. Its most representative model, the Sandero, can therefore be taken as a reference. Our tests a few weeks ago of the new generation having been carried out with non-run-in models (LPG engines see their consumption significantly lower after a few hundred kilometers), it was impossible for us to make a relevant statement. Our colleagues from Motor 1 on the other hand noted a real average of 6.8 l / 100 km with the old version in the summer of 2020, which corresponds to cost of € 5.8 per 100 km, lower than diesel.

Two other fuels presented leave questions unanswered. On the one hand, CNG (announced at 6.70 € for 100 km), while no model currently on sale on the French market offers this alternative. And on the other hand, hydrogen (€ 11.30 per 100 km), at a time when no general public distribution network exists. It’s all the more strange that ethanol E85 is the big forgotten of this government label affixed to gasoline pumps.

Fairly realistic estimates, except for electric models

But the calculation that gives rise to the most discussion is that for electric models. Because that is obviously the purpose of this indication: to promote battery models, which both European and French public authorities are pushing as the preferred solution for reducing CO2 emissions. It is certainly specified that these prices are calculated when charging at home. With off-peak charging, the announced cost of € 2.90 per 100 km corresponds to a consumption of 21 kWh / 100 km, quite in line with reality: with some effort, it is even on most models. possible to go below this value. Even if there are, as on the thermal models, significant variations from one model to another.

So where is the problem? If traditional fuels have more or less the same cost throughout the territory, this is not at all the case for electricity. intended for cars. Charging at home (preferred by the majority of users) does not correspond to all cases, far from it. Parisians who rely on Belib terminals to charge their cars know something about it: during the day, it costs € 16 an hour after the first hour, even for a slow charge, no faster than with a simple plug. It’s an extreme: by using the same consumption of 21 kWh / 100 km as that taken by the government for its indications in service stations, this means that the electricity to travel 100 km costs… 112 €! Fortunately, all the terminals do not resemble armed robbery like this network still managed by the city of Paris (a rumor speaks of a takeover by Total).

Nevertheless the full cost of electricity is often related to the charging speed. This is particularly the case on motorways, on high-power networks (mainly Ionity, plus a few Total stations), which are essential on long journeys. Depending on the consumption of the models and the preferential prices from one brand to another, the variations are huge. Our test bench for electric cars on the motorway is proof of this: the cost per 100 km varies from 4.50 € for the most economical model (Tesla Model 3) to € 18.50 for the most greedy model (Jaguar I-Pace), in any case higher than that put forward by the government. Therefore, it seems impossible to summarize the cost per 100 km of an electric car, much more uncertain than that of a thermal car. This labeling displayed at the gas station looks like propaganda, which is moreover in the short term. Because in the future, it is difficult to imagine how electricity intended for cars could not be heavily taxed, to compensate for the lower tax revenues from petroleum taxes, if thermal models were to become scarce.

Source: Challenges en temps réel : accueil by www.challenges.fr.

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