French petrol stations run dry as Swiss drivers take advantage of cheaper fuel

French petrol stations run dry as Swiss drivers take advantage of cheaper fuel

According to a report from the Basler Zeitung, petrol stations in the border regions of France are running out of petrol and diesel, after cuts to fuel taxes sparked a wave of non-French drivers crossing the border to fill up. Fuel costs up to 50 rappen (cents) less per litre in France than in Switzerland, meaning many Swiss drivers are choosing to make the journey, exacerbating fuel shortages.

French border towns facing high fuel demand from Germany and Switzerland

In the French border town of Saint-Louis, only 15 minutes' drive from Basel and the German town of Weil am Rhein, petrol stations are running out of fuel. "We have no petrol, no diesel, everything is gone," one employee at the Total petrol station told the Basler Zeitung. “Supplies will come again tomorrow - maybe.”

According to the petrol station employees, Swiss and German drivers make up the bulk of those coming to fill up. They explained that ever since the French government raised the fuel tax exemption from 18 to 30 cents a litre, to try and ease the pressure on people during the cost of living crisis, petrol is now sold at the equivalent of 1,56 francs a litre, sometimes more than 50 rappen (cents) a litre cheaper than in Switzerland.

Fuel tax cuts make French petrol up to 50 rappen cheaper than in Switzerland

The operator of the station, Total, said that while they expected to see a few “fuel tourists” from Germany, especially after its own tax cut was phased out, the extremely cheap prices mean that the Swiss have also started to come in droves. The operator said that within two days of the new price cut coming into force, all their fuel reserves were used up. Other regions of France have also started to “totally” sell out of fuel.

The Basler Zeitung noted that drivers from as far away as St. Gallen were coming to Saint-Louis to try and find cheap fuel. Although fuel costs in Switzerland have fallen in recent weeks, prices have fallen slowly enough to prompt an official Swiss Price Monitor investigation into allegations of excessively high markups.

Petrol stations in Switzerland feel the pinch due to fuel tourism

The high prices in Switzerland are also having a knock-on effect on petrol stations in Swiss cities and cantons, with mineral oil association Avenergy Suisse reporting, "Fuel sales in Switzerland fell significantly in July compared to the previous months and especially compared to previous years." Speaking to the Basler Zeitung, Avernergy said that station’s fuel sales were now down 15 percent on average, with some individual stations reporting losses of up to 60 percent.

The fuel shortages in France are expected to last until the end of October, when the tax exemption is due to end. Until then, locals in towns across France may have to deal with a new influx of cars with Swiss registrations.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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