By Simon O'Hare
Motorists will be hoping it is the start of a petrol price war between the supermarkets after two major retailers announced price cuts at the pumps in the run-up to Christmas.
Firstly Asda announced it was reducing the price of petrol by 1p a litre this week, while also cutting the price of diesel by 2p a litre.
The supermarket giant said the reductions mean motorists will pay a maximum of 128.7p a litre for petrol and 135.7p a litre for diesel at its fuel stations.
Following on from Asda's announcement, fellow supermarket giant Sainsbury's got in on the act, providing some degree of relief to hard-pressed motorists facing up to the realities of Christmas spending at the end of a particularly tough year for the economy.
Sainsbury's effectively matched Asda's approach by knocking off 1p from the price of its petrol and 2p from diesel prices.
RAC technical director David Bizley hailed the moves as "good news" for motorists as households face the most expensive time of the year.
Expressing excitement at the announcements, he said: "Not only have we persuaded the Chancellor to scrap January's 3p-a-litre fuel duty increase, but now supermarkets are making festive travel more affordable."
Not only do households have the expense of Christmas shopping to contend with, but as Mr Bizley pointed out it is also a time of year when many people embark on long journeys to visit loved ones.
He said an RAC survey showed that over three-quarters of people intend to drive an average of 260 miles to visit friends or family this Christmas.
As that amounts to a total of some four billion miles, any reduction in fuel prices can represent a large collective saving.
Meanwhile there was more positive news coming out of the motoring industry this week as figures showed that UK car production in November was 4.9 per cent higher than in the same month last year.
Data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed 142,825 cars came off UK production lines in November 2012.
That took the cumulative total for the first 11 months of the year to more than 1.36 million, which is 9.2 per cent higher than in the same period last year.
SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt said UK car manufacturing had "gone from strength to strength" this year.
UK-built products, he believes, enjoy a "global appeal" while the manufacturing sector also benefits from "world-leading productivity and a dedicated and flexible workforce".
He stressed that more work needs to be done to ensure the upward curve can be maintained and he called on the Government to provide "a long-term industrial strategy and consistent support" to the industry.
But it wasn't all good news in the latest SMMT figures, which showed a 3.6 per cent decline last month in commercial vehicle (CV) production to 10,974, while engine production fell by 1.4 per cent to 223,853.
That puts CV production down by 5.9 per cent at 105,188 for the year to date, while engine production is 0.3 per cent down at just over 2.34 million.