Make us your home page
Q&A | Gas prices

Sales of premium gas fall as prices rise

Demand for high-octane fuel is at its lowest in nearly a quarter of a century and is now primarily consumed by a core group of luxury vehicle owners — and even some of them are putting lower-grade fuel into their tanks to save money.

In 1997, high-octane garnered 16 percent of the nationwide fuel market share, according to figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Last month, premium had only 8 percent of the market. Last year, premium gasoline consumption fell to about 35.6-million gallons of gas per day, the lowest in 24 years, the agency said.

With premium gasoline in the Tampa Bay area averaging close to $4.39 a gallon — 41 cents more than regular — who is buying this stuff?

Many luxury and high-performance cars call for premium fuel, and other cars call for mid-grade. In those cars, burning lower octane fuel can cause problems like engine knock.

So what kind of gas should I be burning?

Check your manual. Most cars take regular. Burning premium or mid-grade isn't a "treat" for regular-burning cars, and doesn't make it run better, according to Consumer Reports. The Federal Trade Commission says using a higher octane than recommended has "absolutely no benefit." Consumer Reports concluded that burning lower-octane fuel would not hurt performance of most cars, even those that call for higher octane. Ask your dealership or mechanic about burning lower-octane fuel.

If so few people are buying it, will gas stations continue to sell it?

Yes, said Jim Smith, president of the Florida Petroleum Marketers Association. Retailers will continue to carry it even though premium has dropped to as little as 4 percent of sales at some stations, Smith said. At many stations, the mid-grade is blended at the pump from tanks of regular and premium, so retailers have to carry premium in order to sell mid-grade. "They'll always be offering it because there will always be people wanting it."

Times staff writer Asjylyn Loder contributed to this report.

Sales of premium gas fall as prices rise 06/19/08 [Last modified: Friday, June 20, 2008 4:14pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Lockdown: Florida's 97,000 prison inmates confined through weekend

    State Roundup

    All of Florida's 97,000 state prison inmates are on lockdown — and will remain confined to their dorms at least through the weekend — in response to unspecified threats about possible uprisings, officials from the Florida Department of Corrections confirmed Thursday.

    Blackwater River Correctional Facility. [Florida Department of Corrections]
  2. Carnival announces five more cruises from Tampa to Cuba


    TAMPA — Carnival Cruise Line is adding five more cruises from Tampa to Cuba in 2018, Port Tampa Bay announced Thursday.

      Carnival Cruise Line announced additional cruises to  Cuba. Pictured is its Paradise cruise ship departing on its inaugural voyage to Cuba from Tampa. | [MONICA HERNDON | Times]
  3. Engage Behavioral Health expands into Wesley Chapel


    On Aug. 5, Engage Behavioral Health celebrated the grand opening of a new clinic in Wesley Chapel.

    hillsevbiz081117: Jennifer Phelps is the CEO & Founder of Engage Behavioral Health. Photo courtesy of Engage Behavioral Health.
  4. Former owner of Sirata Beach Resort purchases two Tampa Bay shopping centers

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — After selling the Sirata Beach Resort and Conference in February, Nicklaus of Florida, Inc., has purchased two Tampa Bay shopping centers to diversify the firm's portfolio in the area. Colliers International, representing the sellers, announced the transaction this week.

    Sirata Beach Resort and Conference Center, one of Tampa Bay's last family-owned beach hotels, was sold to a Texas-based company, Crescent Real Estate LLC for $108.19 million. [LARA CERRI | Times]
  5. The Mill, independent and chic, looks to find its place amid Brandon's restaurant chains


    Elevated cuisine might not be the first image that the Brandon dining scene conjures.

    The Brandon location features a bar with planned happy hour drink specials.