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22 March 2022

The majority of New Zealanders are driving less to counter costly fuel prices

A fuel pricing poll by Consumer NZ found four out of five respondents (or 81 percent) are driving less due to the price of petrol and diesel hitting painful levels.

“With the price of fuel past $3 a litre in most parts of the country, it's inevitable that we're seeing many New Zealanders looking to minimise their driving. A lot of people don’t have a choice, they can’t afford their fuel bill right now,” said Consumer NZ chief executive Jon Duffy.

Consumer’s Sentiment Tracker found rising fuel costs are now the sixth highest financial concern for New Zealanders, jumping from 11th place in previous quarters.

The Sentiment Tracker also found that the cost of living has now superseded the previous top concerns — Covid-19 and the price of housing.

In addition to monitoring air-con use, driving more smoothly and carpooling, a third of the respondents are also considering switching to a hybrid or electric vehicle to save money.

As well as contemplating energy-efficient vehicles, many people have stopped filling up their tank to full, with two-thirds of respondents opting for small top-ups when they need it. Just over a third anticipate further price hikes and are filling up their tank to hedge against higher prices.

“We know a lot of New Zealanders are really feeling the pain at the pump right now and it’s worsened by increased price pressure across other essentials like groceries, power and rents,” Duffy said.

On 14 March, the government responded to the global energy crisis by offering its cost-of-living relief package. This included cutting fuel taxes by 25 cents a litre and halving public transport fares for the next three months.

“This price volatility may be with us for some time and is a signal, along with the climate crisis, that we need to be exploring clean transport alternatives and reduce our dependency on fossil fuels,” Duffy said.

Consumer NZ’s ways to reduce your fuel bill:

  • Drive smooth to avoid excessive use of the accelerator.
  • Take away extra items to lessen the load and avoid burning more fuel than necessary.
  • Check you have the correct tyre pressure and pump up your tyres to the right level at the petrol station.
  • Wind up your windows and switch to the air-con to reduce your vehicle’s wind resistance.
  • Drive less by batching your errands together in one trip, or skip the car to take a short walk or bike instead when you can.

Our poll: Consumer NZ Fuel Price Poll was conducted between 12 and 16 March 2022 online, with 390 respondents.