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Australians are going in on diesel and out with LPG

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Diesel is in, but it's almost end of the road for LPG.

Australians are shying away from petrol on the whole, according to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). In 2012, 88.1% of cars on the road were petrol powered, but by 2016, this dropped to 75.7%.

This shift has been going for some time now, but the last year in particular has seen more car buyers look elsewhere. Australia's fleet of cars grew by 2.1% over the last year, but the number of petrol-powered cars only increased by 0.8%. LPG seems to be going the way of the now-obsolete leaded petrol, with 35,000 (9.2%) fewer LPG vehicles registered in 2017 compared to 2016 and 146,750 (29.9%) fewer compared to 2012.

Diesel is the most popular alternative, with 8.1% more diesel vehicles registered in 2017 than 2016 and a 57% increase since 2012. Diesel-powered vehicles now account for almost a quarter (22.2%) of Australian vehicles. Despite diesel-powered cars typically costing 10-15% more than their petrol equivalents, it seems that Australians are more than willing to make the switch if it means saving money at the pump, and it looks like they're paying close attention to fuel prices when considering their purchases.

This attentiveness might also account for some of the drop in LPG purchases. In 2015-2016 fuel prices of all kinds dropped to their lowest in years, but LPG was only costing 6.5 cents less per litre than the previous year, while diesel prices dropped by 19.4 cents per litre in the same period.

Although Australians are watching fuel prices and adjusting their purchases accordingly, it's still worth remembering that this doesn't automatically translate into savings. The Australian Automobile Association has found significant differences between popular vehicles' official fuel consumption under lab conditions and how much they actually use.

Diesel vehicles were found to be especially unpredictable compared to petrol and LPG vehicles, so the fuel savings might be just as dependent on how you drive as what you put in the tank. Generally, city drivers might be spending more than they expect on diesel, while long-haulers or anyone else who drives long distances might enjoy the most savings.

313,551 more diesel vehicles were registered in 2017 than the previous year, but some of those drivers might end up disappointed. Fuel consumption isn't the only way to cut running costs, with car insurance for cheaper cars also generally costing less and petrol-powered vehicles typically not needing as much maintenance as diesel. If you're in the market, it might be worth keeping your car loan options open instead of going straight for a diesel engine.

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