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For whom refueling abroad is worthwhile

Fuel prices in Germany are at an all-time high. In the neighboring countries, petrol and diesel are sometimes drastically cheaper. Those who come from south-eastern Bavaria would get away with it even cheaper if they drove through the whole of Austria to Hungary to fill up.

“Serdecznie witamy!”, “Welcome”, emblazoned on a large sign. I was on my way to East Brandenburg anyway and since petrol has become a luxury item in Germany, I decided to make a detour to Poland right away. It was my first time in the country, lasting 10 minutes at best, but all the more remarkable for that. As soon as I got to Poland, I went to the first gas station that came along. That was also bittersweet. I had planned my trip like a Formula 1 race. I hadn’t filled up a milliliter too much in Germany. The fuel needle had long since reached the bottom stop.

Arrived at the gas station, there were no problems with understanding at all. The employee spoke good German and most of the customers also came from Germany. In order to distinguish the Germans from the Poles, the employee seemed to have developed a special kind of “racial profiling” method. He addressed people who rushed to the checkout with a mask in German, and everyone who entered the branch without a mask (the mask requirement has long since been abolished in Poland) he addressed in Polish. He drove surprisingly well with this method, at least until it was my turn.

I filled up at the most inconvenient time and, since it was right next to the border, in the most inconvenient place. The prices in all of Poland were probably nowhere as high as at this gas station. In the end I had to spend a little more than 70 euros (1.48 euros per liter of Super E5) for almost 50 liters, while in this country I would have had to pay well over 100 euros. Despite a detour of around 100 km, I ended up saving more than 20 euros. Based on the German average price of 2.20 euros per liter Super (E5) and a consumption of 7 liters.

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Fuel is relatively dirt cheap in our neighboring countries. Sometimes absurdly long distances can be covered, where refueling abroad is still financially worthwhile. We assume an average consumption of 7 liters and a tank filling of 50 liters in total. On 11.3. the price in Germany was 2.20 euros. In Poland, on the other hand, you only paid 1.43 euros per liter. For 50 liters, the price difference is 38.50 euros. You could cover 385 kilometers (the following calculations are of course purely theoretical and do not take into account the “costs” of time or wear and tear on the car etc.) so to speak “for nothing”.

So if you live less than 192 kilometers from the Polish border, it is worth refueling in Poland. For comparison: To get from Leipzig to Poland, you have to travel 215 km. The price difference was enormous even before the Ukraine war. Since VAT was drastically reduced in Poland, the difference has increased further.

The price of petrol in the Czech Republic is close to that in Poland and is around EUR 1.47. Thus, within a radius of less than 355 km from the Czech Republic, it is cheaper to fill up there than in Germany. For a Munich resident, it is cheaper to drive to the Czech Republic than to fill up locally. Germany is the leader when it comes to diesel prices. Apart from the Netherlands, petrol is cheaper in all neighboring countries than in Germany. Fuel costs 1.97 euros in France and Austria, 1.99 euros in Denmark, 2.10 euros in Belgium and 1.89 euros in Luxembourg. Even in Switzerland, which is otherwise so expensive, the price of fuel is 2.06 euros below that in Germany.

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If you live in Passau and want to fill up with 70 liters, you could even drive 343 km across the border to Hungary and still save more than 5 euros compared to filling up in Germany.

So it’s cheaper to drive two countries further than to visit a German gas pump: That alone should illustrate the German fuel absurdity.


By Maximilian Tichy and Jonas Aston. This Saturday, the TE site will be run by young authors.

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