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Amazon vies for lane in car industry
Amazon is continuing its seemingly unstoppable march towards global domination of online shopping with plans to enable consumers to order cars online. Amazon Vehicles already operates in the US as an online platform for users to research cars, auto parts and accessories. It also sells car parts online. Last year Amazon launched a promotional scheme with Fiat in Italy which allows customers to view images and specifications of cars online. Orders are placed through the website, which then directs users to a dealership where the purchase is completed. It is understood that any UK operation would function in a similar way.
Responding to the reports, Sue Robinson, director of the National Franchised Dealers Association, said: “The UK new car market still relies heavily on showroom traffic to drive sales.”
Children in cars ‘most exposed’ to school-run pollution
Travelling in the back of a car exposes children to more harmful fumes than cycling or walking, according to the government’s former chief scientific adviser. Professor Sir David King said that parents who drove their children to school were exposing them to “dangerous” levels of pollution because fumes could get inside cars, even if all the windows were closed. He questioned why the vast majority of parents supported the ban on smoking in vehicles carrying children but were happy to allow them to “breathe in toxic emissions in the back of our cars”.
Wages hit by higher inflation
The amount of money workers are taking home continues to fall as inflation takes its toll, official figures show.
Average earnings fell in real terms by 0.6% in the three months to April, compared with the same period last year.
Before inflation, earnings rose by 1.7% excluding bonuses and were up 2.1% including bonuses, according to the Office for National Statistics. Unemployment fell by 50,000 to 1.53 million in the three months to April. The ONS said on Tuesday that inflation reached 2.9% in May. The number of people in work was the joint highest since records began in 1971 at 74.8%, the ONS said.
Truckmakers face £3.9bn UK legal claim over price fixing
British lorry drivers are to bring legal action demanding £3.9bn in compensation against a Europe-wide cartel of truckmakers that fixed prices for 14 years. In July last year Brussels found five truckmakers — Iveco, DAF, Volvo/Renault, Daimler and MAN — guilty of colluding to raise prices together and fined them €2.93bn. A sixth, Scania, is still being investigated after refusing to co-operate with the European Commission’s probe.
On Wednesday the UK’s Road Haulage Association, which represents lorry drivers, will announce plans to bring a case to the UK’s Competition Appeal Tribunal against all six companies to demand compensation. The tribunal is a government-backed agency, led by judges, that rules on competition issues and has the power to levy fines.
VW faces biggest action in diesel saga in Europe
Volkswagen is facing its biggest threat from European consumers in the diesel emissions saga as the largest group of car owners to combine in an action on the continent prepares for a complaint against the carmaker. A group representing 180,000 car owners is seeking a full refund for each of the affected vehicles with an estimated damage of €4.5bn, according to Patrick Haas of AKD, a Rotterdam-based law firm serving as legal counsel in the effort. Although some analysts think the action will fail, it is a sign the emissions scandal continues to hurt the group’s reputation as it tries to consign the controversy to the past.
Fears for Mini production as BMW pensions deal rejected by striking staff
Hopes that a run of strikes over pensions at BMW’s British plants could be over have been dashed with staff rejecting an improved deal from the German car giant. Workers at the company’s Mini production line in Oxford, the Rolls-Royce factory in West Sussex and parts plants in Hams Hall and Swindon have so far downed tools four times over plans to close the current final-salary retirement scheme. There are fears that the industrial action could hurt the chances of the plant in Cowley, Oxford – the historic home of the Mini – being selected to build a new electric version of the iconic car, a model widely expected to be a bestseller for the company.
Apple chief: driverless car venture is ‘the mother of all AI projects’
Apple has shed new light on its top-secret driverless car project, as chief executive Tim Cook described the challenge of building autonomous vehicles as “the mother of all” artificial intelligence projects. Cook said Apple was ploughing resources into developing technology to control driverless vehicles, although he refused to rule out the Silicon Valley firm building its own car at some point. The Apple boss spoke as shares in his company and other US tech firms came under pressure this week amid investor concerns that a sector-wide boom is losing steam. Cook attempted to restore faith in Apple’s ability to strike out into new territory by giving his most detailed comments yet about a car venture that has been shrouded in secrecy.