Germany sees 'highest fuel prices on record' in 2022

DPA/The Local
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Germany sees 'highest fuel prices on record' in 2022
Prices for diesel and petrol on display at a petrol station in Hamburg. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Daniel Bockwoldt

Drivers in Germany have paid more at the pump than ever before this year, according to data from motorists' association ADAC. Here's what you need to know about the soaring prices - and when they could change.


What's going on?

Drivers in Germany have had a record-breaking year this year - and not in a good way. Skyrocketing fuel prices have seen 2022 take the top spot as the most expensive year to ever refill your tank, according to data compiled by motorists' association ADAC. 

Even if petrol and diesel were to be given away for free until the end of year, 2022 would still remain the priciest year on record. And if prices at the pump remain roughly the same as they are now, the previous record for fuel prices will be completely "pulverised", ADAC revealed. 

In 2012 - the previous most expensive year on record - E10 cost an annual average of €1.589 per litre, while diesel was €1.478. This year, there has not yet been a single day on which either type of fuel was cheaper on a national level. 


For E10, the annual average price is estimated to be around €1.88 per litre - around 29 cents higher than the average in 2012. For diesel, with an expected current annual average of €1.98 per litre, 2012's average prices would be exceeded by about 50 cents.  

Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, fuel prices reached a dizzying peak of €2.30 per litre of diesel and €2.20 per litre of petrol. The prices have since dampened slightly and were much lower over summer due the government's three-month cap on energy taxes. 

However, even billion-euro tax cuts haven't been enough to compensate for the huge spike in prices on the energy markets. 

READ ALSO: German petrol costs rise sharply after tax cut ends

How is this affecting people's budgets?

How expensive the higher tank prices will be for consumers depends on their vehicle type and driving behaviour.

Based on the ADAC's projections for 2022 as a whole, as well as typical vehicle types and mileages, motorists would have had to pay hundreds of euros more this year than any time in the previous decade. 

For a diesel vehicle with an annual mileage of around 20,000 kilometres and a consumption of six litres per 100 kilometres, the costs will rise by around €860 per year, according to the ADAC forecasts. Petrol-driven cars generally cover shorter distances, but consume more.

Assuming a mileage of 10,500 kilometres per year and a consumption of 7.5 litres per 100 kilometres, the additional costs would be around €360.

To compensate for the price hikes, drivers appear to be making a switch to the slightly cheaper E10 petrol. In the first seven months of the year, the share of vehicles running on E10 was 22.8 percent, compared to only 15.8 percent over the same period in 2021.

According to the ADAC, making the switch shouldn't be harmful to most petrol cars. 

"Almost all petrol engines can tolerate it, unless they are vintage cars," ADAC's Christian Laberer told DPA. "The price difference is usually five to six cents. Nevertheless, many more people still fill up with normal Super than E10."

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Will the prices go down again next year?

With the outlook for the energy market still uncertain, ADAC doesn't expect prices to drop significantly in the near future.

"There is a danger that the high prices will become entrenched in the market for a longer period of time," Laberer explained. 

However, there could be some good news on the horizon for petrol car owners, he added.

That's because petrol stations are once again competing for customers by lowering their prices slightly, which means petrol prices are far more closely linked to the actual price of oil than they have been at any point since the start of the Ukraine war. 

Fuel prices on display in Potsdam

Fuel prices on display in Potsdam, Brandenburg. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Soeren Stache

For diesel, however, the outlook is much less rosy. According to Laberer, industry has partially responded to the energy crisis by replacing gas with diesel, which has driven up demand, and demand for the very similar heating oil is also rising again.

"But this does not justify how much the current prices are inflated," Laberer emphasised.

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Is the government doing anything to help?

Following the fuel tax cut over summer, another bit of tax relief should be coming for drivers in the coming months. 

Back in spring, the government agreed to increase the so-called commuters' allowance for the 2022 tax year, meaning people who drive to their place of work should be able to write off even more from their taxes. 

Currently, the tax office recognises a flat-rate commuting allowance of 30 cents per working day for each kilometre of one-way travel. From the 21st kilometre onwards, the allowance goes up to 35 cents per kilometre. For 2022's tax return, the traffic light coalition has increased the flat rate for long-distance commuters - i.e. for those who have to travel 21 or more kilometres to work - to 38 cents per kilometre.


Early next year, the traffic-light coalition also wants to launch a new transport ticket to ensure more affordable mobility for people in Germany. The so-called Deutschlandticket will cost €49 per month and can be used on local and regional transport anywhere in Germany. 

READ ALSO: ‘Deutschlandticket’: What you need to know about Germany’s new €49 ticket

Nevertheless, ADAC says the government needs to do more to support drivers and is calling for another rise in the commuters' allowance - this time for short-distance as well as long-distance commuters.

This Monday, the Bundestag finance committee is due to discuss proposed changes to the 2022 tax law, including the plans to increase the long-distance commuters' allowance to 38 cents per kilometre. 


"The draft of the annual tax law should be supplemented in the Bundestag deliberations with an increased commuting allowance from the first kilometre," said ADAC transport president Gerhard Hillebrand. "Not only have the energy costs in transport risen massively, but the prices for new and used vehicles have also gone up as well."

That means commuters are particularly affected by rising costs and must be supported even more than before, he added. 


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