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Updated: September 17, 2012 08:24 IST

Luxury car owners feel the pinch as branded fuel rates soar

Staff Reporter
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A petrol bunk at Anna Salai in Chennai.
The Hindu A petrol bunk at Anna Salai in Chennai.

Premium petrol costlier by nearly Rs. 7 and diesel by Rs. 21

Confusion prevailed in many petrol bunks in the city on Sunday as they had not received any notification from the oil companies on the rise in prices of branded fuel.

The government, on Thursday, had raised the diesel price by Rs. 5 per litre and allowed the oil companies to price premium or branded petrol and diesel at market prices. Subsequently, the oil companies, on Saturday raised the rates. Premium or branded petrol on Sunday was being sold at Rs. 81.66 per litre as against Rs. 74.92 earlier while premium or branded diesel cost Rs. 70.26 per litre as against Rs. 49.17 previously.

Branded fuel is known by different names. Indian Oil Corporation (IOC)’s branded petrol is called ‘XtraPremium’, while Bharat Petroleum (BP) calls it ‘Speed’ and Hindustan Petroleum (HP) 'Power'.   While most bunks in the city on Sunday sold branded fuel at the new prices, officials at others said they were waiting for formal notification from the companies.

“We are telling the customer there is no stock. We want to benefit from the difference and at least not go on loss. Only 10 out of 100 ask for them as it is a luxury product used by a few people,” said a worker at a bunk in Adyar. “This is the first time, the petrol bunk owners were not notified by the companies. We expect the announcement to come to us by Monday,” said M. Kannan, former president, Tamilnadu Petroleum Dealers Association. “It is not right that more than a day was taken to inform us because we have to answer the consumers, and we are not supposed to use the new rates without the companies informing us.”

Ranjith, a worker at a bunk on Anna Salai, said he has been witnessing a surge in the number of people using premium petrol of late. But this hike, he feels, will force many to shift back to normal fuel, rather than the branded one. Branded fuel is known to enhance the efficiency of the engines and many dedicated users say using the fuel also reduces the maintenance cost of the vehicles. “I shifted to branded petrol because I got this old model Pulsar and premium petrol is good for its running and maintenance. I will still go for it, despite the hike,” said Vincent Joseph, a customer at a bunk in Adyar.

The total number of people affected though, should be low. For instance, Lalgudi Srinivasan, joint secretary of the Tourist Taxi Operators Association, said luxury cars comprise only 3 per cent of one lakh tourist cabs in the state. “People who prefer high-end cars will not feel the pinch as they are willing to pay high prices,” he said. Mohammed Afzal, president of Tamil Nadu Omni Bus Operators Association, agrees. “They will not want their vehicles engine to get damaged,” he said.

S. Aramugham, who owns two premium cars, however said, “People like us will be forced to use ordinary diesel in premium cars. However, certain luxury cars such as Benz and certain SUVs require branded fuel. So, we may not have much choice.”

But the group which is most worried is bunk owners who feel it might not be viable now to sell branded diesel considering the steep increase of Rs. 19 per litre. S.N. Manikandan, who owns a petrol bunk in R.A. Puram said, “I am planning to replace the equipment needed to supply branded diesel with that to supply normal diesel. I sell around 150 litres of branded diesel out of total sales of 7,000 litre per day. Now the figure may dip further."

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