U.K.’s 32 Million Car Fleet Has Ample Scope to Carry On Queuing
The U.K.’s fuel crisis is dragging on longer than some in the industry had anticipated.
There are 32 million reasons why.
That is the size of Britain’s car fleet. In normal times, drivers probably wouldn’t think twice about letting the fuel gauge get near empty, safe in the knowledge they could refill at any time. But right now, particularly around London, it feels like it’s almost becoming a pastime to join any queue for gasoline or diesel because so many filling stations are empty.
Put another way, if people are suddenly too nervous to let their fuel tanks tick down to near-empty, then the U.K. car fleet essentially just became a large new storage facility that has to be kept topped up.
Adding even a single liter to Britain’s average ‘in car’ fuel inventory would have a huge effect on the supply chain. That would mean almost 32 million extra liters, roughly a quarter of the U.K.’s daily fuel sales. And it would be needed at a time when there’s a constraint on truck drivers.
This begs another question: how much capacity does the national car fleet have to absorb more fuel? Recent models of the Ford Fiesta, Britain’s most popular automobile, can hold 42 liters. If they previously ran at one third full, that would imply a significant potential to keep underlying retail demand high -- and the supply chain stretched -- for some time to come.
It’s also helps explain why fuel retailers are eager to have a return to normal buying behavior.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.