File picture: Gene J Puskar / AP Photo.

Johannesburg - The stronger rand, having rallied in recent days, won’t save South African motorists from a rather hefty fuel price hike in December as buoyant international oil prices and currency weakness earlier in the month take their toll.

Based on late-month data, the Automobile Association is predicting a petrol price increase of around 72 cents a litre and a diesel price hike in the region of 64 cents, while illuminating paraffin could rise by up to 76 cents.

This would push the price of a litre of unleaded past the R14 mark at the coast, all the way to around R14.28, while inland residents would pay in the region of R14.50 for 93 unleaded and R14.77 for 95. Low sulphur diesel would rise to around R14.04 at the coast and R14.60 inland.

"Oil has continued the strong run we have seen throughout November and the trend remains upwards," the AA commented.

"The Rand has followed a similar trend, weakening against the US dollar on average, although it has been surprisingly resilient in the days following South Africa's recent credit ratings downgrade."

The rand has so far averaged around R14.14 to the dollar in the month of November, versus an average of R13.68 during October, but a potentially encouraging sign is its strength in recent days, appreciating to R13.75 at the time of writing. 

This could mitigate further increases should the trend persist and oil prices stabilise, although the AA warns that further fuel price hikes are certainly a risk going into the first quarter of 2018.

IOL Motoring