Check your petrol tank — Popular fuel pulled after damaging vehicles

Petrol stations in the southern parts of South Africa were forced to stop selling their unleaded 95 petrol due to issues with the fuel.

The Sunday Times reports that numerous petrol stations were told to stop selling the fuel known as Mogas 95 after motorists complained that it causes paint stains on their vehicles.

“We regret to advise you of a potential product quality concern related to Mogas 95 supplied from the Mossel Bay terminal,” said one major company to its petrol station owners last week.

“As a precautionary measure and to allow us the opportunity to conduct further analysis we are suspending all sales of the Mogas 95 grade.”

However, it then said on Thursday that petrol stations could continue selling whatever unleaded 95 petrol they had in their tanks.

Anonymous branch owners said there have been complaints about this petrol since last October, which had already been relayed to major petrol companies.

These retailers also said that they have lost significant amounts of money — despite this issue not being each retailer’s fault.

“They are refusing to take responsibility and pay back retailers,” said one retailer. “And yet this was a faulty product supplied by them.”

“When you run a fuel station and can’t sell fuel, that hits you in the pocket. It also threatens a lot of jobs.”

In response, several petrol companies told the Sunday Times the South African Petroleum Industry Association (SAPIA) would respond for them.

SAPIA executive director Avhapfani Tshifularo said the issue was being taken seriously — including sampling and testing of the petrol in question.

The Petroleum Oil & Gas Corp of South Africa (PetroSA), which is one of the suppliers of unleaded 95 petrol in South Africa, is also investigating the complaints and says the batch, like those before it, was tested by independent parties and found to be compliant with industry standards.

“PetroSA remains committed to ensuring security of supply of quality products and has enough stock to supply demand,” said Mashika-Dennison.

South Africans move to alternatives

These issues, combined with high fuel prices, have convinced many South Africans to switch to liquid petroleum gas (LPG) conversions for their vehicles.

While these have a significant upfront cost, they pay themselves off over time, with inland LPG prices averaging between R12 and R13 per litre.

This is in contrast with petrol prices, which have continually increased ever since January 2024.

MyBroadband recently researched the value of LPG conversions and used the Suzuki Dzire as an example.

Using prices from Isinkwe Energies, a conversion kit costs nearly R32,000.

A driver who averages 1,000km per month would save approximately R530 per month — or R6,400 per year.

For this hypothetical driver, it would take under 5 years to see a benefit from an LPG conversion — and for drivers who travel longer distances, they will see savings even faster.

Electric vehicles work out even cheaper according to MyBroadband research — although it is inhibited by the fact that most electric vehicles are still expensive in South Africa.

EVs rise in popularity

Regardless, electric vehicles continue to rise in popularity in South Africa, with a record 931 new fully electric vehicles being sold in the country last year.

This was an 85% increase over the 2022 figure of 502 units — while the number of fully electric car models available in South Africa has increased from eight in 2021 to 31 in South Africa.

This is despite overall year-on-year car sales being down every month since July 2023, according to data from the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa).

Last month, for example, 44,237 vehicles were sold in South Africa — down from 50,157 in March 2023.

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Check your petrol tank — Popular fuel pulled after damaging vehicles