Petrol sales slumped this spring despite a dip in prices at the pumps, according to official figures.
Almost 500 million fewer litres of petrol were sold between April and June than in the same period last year, statistics from the Department of Energy and Climate Change showed.
The spring 2012 fall followed a near-120 million litre rise in petrol sales in the first three months of this year when the tanker drivers' dispute led to some panic buying. Overall, more than two billion fewer litres of petrol and diesel were sold on forecourts in the first half of this year compared to the same period in 2008 - the last period before the recession.
Between January and June 2008, retail sales of petrol and diesel reached 18.97 billion litres. In the first half of this year, retailers sold 8,758.04 million litres of petrol and 7,946.97 million litres of diesel - a total of 16.7 billion litres.
Highlighting the latest figures, AA president Edmund King said: "A 10.6% fall in petrol sales this past quarter is a huge drop. While we welcome the fact that new cars have become more fuel-efficient, this goes nowhere near to accounting for the crash in demand over the past three months and the past five years.
"Ever-increasing prices in recent years have sent petrol sales into steady decline and the panic-buying at the end of March may have brought forward sales in early April. Wet weather may also have played a part.
"However, petrol prices slumped more than 10p a litre, from the record of 142.48p a litre in mid April to the low-point of 131.19p at the end of June, and UK drivers began to travel further with lighter evenings, bank holidays and the Queen's diamond jubilee celebrations."
Mr King continued: "A fall of 2.27 billion litres in UK fuel sales over the first six months of this year compared to the same period in 2008 has got to bring some sense of reality to the fuel market and the Government.
"However, we have seen the fuel industry trying to squeeze more money out of shrinking customer demand, as was the case when wholesale diesel was cheaper than petrol in early spring but drivers and businesses were forced to pay 5p a litre more.
"Price transparency is the way forward: to ensure and show drivers that they are getting a fair deal at the pump."