Diesel vs. Gasoline: Why Is One More Expensive?

These two fuels serve different roles and face different economic drivers.

diesel and gas calvert county, md For truck drivers, construction managers and other professionals who rely on diesel, it seems the fuel is always more expensive than gasoline. This is certainly the case these days. While both on-road diesel and gasoline prices rose in 2022, gasoline rates have dropped faster than diesel.

But diesel wasn’t always more expensive. As recently as the early 2000s, diesel was regularly cheaper per gallon than unleaded gas. What changed?

Here’s an explanation of how diesel differs from gasoline and what economic factors make diesel pricier at the pump.

How are diesel and gasoline different?

Let’s start by discussing what they have in common. Both diesel and gasoline are distillates of crude oil. But they have different physical properties and serve different roles.

Diesel is denser than gasoline. It won’t evaporate in the open air as gas does. The engines and other equipment that burn diesel need to apply pressure to make it combust. By contrast, gasoline requires only a spark to combust. It also contains additives for engine performance that diesel does not.

Gasoline’s shelf life is shorter than diesel’s. Gas starts deteriorating after three to six months, while diesel remains stable for a year or longer. Additionally, diesel produces 10 to 20 percent more energy in combustion than gasoline.

It’s also worth noting that diesel can be used for both on- and off-road purposes. Off-road diesel is dyed, and it’s subject to fewer taxes than road diesel. (More on taxes in a moment.)

Why is diesel more expensive than gasoline?

The variables that lead to diesel being more expensive than gasoline involve government regulations, taxation and global markets.

Regulations and production costs. In 2006, the Environmental Protection Agency changed emissions standards for diesel, reducing its sulfur content to 15 parts per million. This was a significant step in improving the fuel’s performance and environmental impact. However, the changes to its refining process significantly increased production costs.

Taxes. The federal motor fuel excise tax is 18.4 cents per gallon for gas gasoline but 24.4 cents per gallon for on-road diesel. You also need to factor in state taxes, which are typically higher on diesel.

Global demand. Simply put, the commercial demand for diesel is high year-round. Plus, you get less diesel from each barrel of oil. A barrel of crude can yield 19-20 gallons of gasoline but only 11-12 gallons of diesel. And now, with global conflicts leading to export cut-offs, there aren’t enough refineries to meet demand.

Q-Dog is here when you need diesel for your business.

As you can see, plenty of large-scale factors cause diesel prices to rise, and local fuel companies can’t do much to impact them, unfortunately. But commercial customers in Maryland’s Calvert, Charles, St. Mary’s, Anne Arundel and Prince George’s counties trust Q-Dog to dependably and safely deliver their diesel.

We work hard every day to secure the best possible fuel price, and we’re always transparent.

Let’s work together to keep your fleet moving and your commercial equipment fully fueled. Join the community of happy Q-Dog customers.