There is no functioning competition among German petrol stations? At least when the tax rebate on petrol and diesel comes into effect, the operators outbid each other with price reductions. Even if they have to accept temporary losses as a result.
It turned out differently than some industry representatives had announced and the media had expected. Most petrol stations slashed their prices early in the morning after the temporary energy tax reduction for petrol and diesel came into effect. Many operators passed on the tax rebate of 35 cents per liter of premium petrol and 17 cents for diesel almost in full - or paid the difference out of their own pockets. This should be particularly painful for independent gas station operators.
The reason for this is that the energy tax, which has now been reduced, is levied when the fuel is sold by the manufacturer to the filling station. It is irrelevant whether both belong to the same group or are owned by different people. Since the fuel available at the gas stations this morning and partly also in the coming days was bought before the tax reduction, the full tax rate was also paid for it. Therefore, it was expected that the discount would not be passed on to customers today.
For the petroleum companies, which dominate large parts of the petrol station market, the losses caused by a price reduction initially taken on their own account should not be too great, says the spokesman for the petrol station interest group, Herbert Rabl. He points out that the companies had once again increased the prices for petrol and diesel significantly in the past few weeks. This would reflect the public expectation that the tax cuts would be passed on. The head of the Federal Cartel Office, among others, had repeated on the eve of the entry into force that the industry was acting "under the magnifying glass" of the competition watchdog after the considerable price increases of the past few months.
The tenants of the brand petrol stations on site have no influence on the prices, emphasizes their association spokesman Rabl: "The prices are set in the group headquarters and from there transferred directly to the cash register systems. Some of the tenants themselves looked out of the window at the seen their service station displays." The lessees and also the owners of branded gas stations benefit neither from price increases nor are they affected by the price reduction. As a rule, they receive a share of the sales of the respective mineral oil company with one cent per liter of petrol sold.
On the other hand, operators of independent petrol stations suffer short-term heavy losses. Due to the price cuts of the brand competition, they were largely forced to price in the tax rebate immediately, even though they were still reselling fully taxed fuel. "Some independent gas stations, which are usually a few cents cheaper than the branded gas stations in the neighborhood, were suddenly 30 cents higher than their price at the Super this morning," says Rabl. Then, of course, the operators had no choice but to follow suit and bear the loss.