Morton_et_al_2018_integrated.pdf (1.08 MB)
Download file

Fuel price differentials and car ownership: A spatial analysis of diesel cars in Northern Ireland

Download (1.08 MB)
journal contribution
posted on 24.07.2018, 11:08 by Craig MortonCraig Morton, Robin Lovelace, Ian Philips, Jillian Anable
Car fleets across much of Europe have undergone a process of dieselisation over the past 20 years. Understanding the factors driving this process is therefore important for sustainable transport policy, with implications for how governments steer their national car fleets towards ultra-low emission vehicles in the future. At a general level, this paper contributes to this wider body of work which aims to understand the factors which led to the transition from petrol to diesel. Specifically, the paper investigates whether the availability of relatively cheap diesel fuel in the Republic of Ireland affected the rate of diesel car ownership in Northern Ireland. A geographic approach is used, which involves generating spatial variables measuring nearness to the Republic of Ireland and comparing these with the proportion of the local car stock that is fuelled by diesel. A series of spatial regression models are specified to determine if this association between nearness to the Republic and diesel ownership persists after accounting for the effect of socioeconomic, travel, and household characteristics. The results support the hypothesis that the availability of cheaper fuel in the Republic of Ireland is not only generating fuel-tourism, but is also affecting the structure of the car fleet registered in Northern Ireland. The findings are relevant beyond the case study and imply that the structure of a country’s car fleet is not only dependent on domestic policies, but is also affected by the policies of neighbouring countries.


This work has been undertaken as part of the MOT project (EP/K000438/1), funded by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council under the Research Councils UK Energy Programme. Additional support was provided by the ClimateXChange centre in Scotland.



  • Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering

Published in

Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment




755 - 768 (14)


MORTON, C. ... et al, 2018. Fuel price differentials and car ownership: A spatial analysis of diesel cars in Northern Ireland. Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment, 63, pp.755-768.


© Elsevier


AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at:

Acceptance date


Publication date



This paper was accepted for publication in the journal Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment and the definitive published version is available at