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Car insurance cost drops for first time in three years
Car insurance prices have fallen for the first time in three years, a survey suggests, owing to a reaction to government policy. Reforms to the law on whiplash and a review into how compensation is paid for long-term injuries were thought to be behind the drop. The research, for comparison website Confused.com, suggests prices have dropped by 2%, or £13, in a year. Separate figures show the number of female car owners has risen sharply. The number of cars registered to women has risen by 21% since 2007 to 11.8 million, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. This compares with a 10% rise in the number of cars registered to men, to 17.8 million.
Jaguar Land Rover to shed 1,000 contract staff
Jaguar Land Rover says it will not be renewing the contracts of 1,000 temporary workers at two factories. The UK’s biggest carmaker, owned by India’s Tata Motors, blamed “continuing headwinds” affecting the car industry. It said it was continuing to recruit large numbers of engineers and apprentices and it remained committed to its UK plants. Earlier this year, it said it would cut production amid uncertainty over Brexit and changes to taxes on diesel cars. Those cuts were made at its Halewood plant in Merseyside. These jobs will go at the Solihull.
Brexit: ‘People’s Vote’ campaign group launched
MPs, celebrities and business leaders have launched a campaign calling for a public vote on the final Brexit deal between the UK and the European Union. The People’s Vote – which held a rally in Camden, north London, on Sunday – aims to unite anti-Brexit groups. Organisers said some 1,200 people were at the event, including MPs from all leading parties. Pro-Brexit campaigners also gathered outside. Both the Conservatives and Labour have ruled out a second referendum.
Ford plans driverless network ‘at scale’ by 2021
Ford plans to operate its own robo-taxi network “at scale” in 2021 to transport people and goods in the most ambitious details yet revealed by a carmaker for a driverless service. Jim Farley, global markets president and joint-number two at the US carmaker, said the business planned to operate a network of custom-built vehicles itself, rather than sell its technology to a ride-hailing operator. The group last year spent $1bn on AI start-up Argo to compete with Waymo and Uber as well as automotive rivals such as General Motors and Toyota in developing self-driving vehicles.
Car buyers are shifting to automatics
The proportion of motorists buying automatic cars has doubled in a decade. Industry figures show that four in ten new cars registered last year were automatics, twice the proportion in 2007. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said motorists were “attracted to the comfort and simplicity” of automatics. Technological advances have allowed the industry to automate steering, braking, acceleration and even windscreen wipers. Motoring groups said that manual gearboxes would probably disappear within decades. Already, all new electric or hybrids are built as automatics.
Streetlights could be used to charge electric cars
Dublin is looking into whether its street lighting system could be used for charging electric cars. The council said there were logistical problems but it could help those living in flats and houses without driveways who might otherwise be put off choosing an electric vehicle (EV). It added that charging points were unsuitable for private terraced houses as it would mean electric leads would cross public footpaths and pose a hazard. A report to be presented at a meeting of the council’s transportation committee this week acknowledges that providing charging points is a difficult issue.
Sit back and relax in your driverless car? Not likely
Owners of driverless cars could be made to sit a new test before going on the road because of fears that the vehicles will pose a significant safety risk, a study suggests. A new driver licensing system should be considered because of the danger posed by autonomous cars suddenly handing back control to the motorist, the researchers said. It is also claimed that new laws may have to be drawn up requiring owners to maintain attention at all times rather than reading, watching films or sleeping, in case control is relinquished by the car’s computer.
Vandals pick on smallest vehicles, with Smart cars and Minis most at risk
It is the car equivalent of bullying. Vandals are more likely to pick on smaller vehicles than large ones when it comes to causing wanton damage on the streets. Smart cars and Minis are more at risk from attacks than any other model, a study published today shows. More than one in every hundred of the German compact car falls victim to vandalism every year while Mini owners are the second highest group at risk, with one claim for every thousand each year. Alfa Romeos, BMWs and Mazdas are the other brands to make up the top five. The analysis by Churchill was based on claims made between 2013 and last year.
Pothole plague is putting horseriders at risk, insurers warn
The pothole plague on rural roads is putting horse riders at risk, the farmers’ insurer has warned. Bad weather and a lack of maintenance and funding has left some roads in such a bad state that they could be closed altogether, NFU Mutual has said. The poor state of the roads is leaving those who us them at higher risk of accident, including cyclists and horse riders. Jeremy Atkins, an NFU Mutual senior agent in Devon, told Farmers Weekly that rural roads were the “arteries of the countryside” and it would have serious implications if they became unusable. “Other rural road users such as cyclists and horse riders are also at risk,” he said. The warning comes a month after research by campaign group Cycling UK and magazine Cycling Weekly found 49.5 per cent of cyclists have crashed because of potholes.
UK retailers see 6% drop in shopper numbers in March
Dismal weather kept consumers away from the high street last month, prompting the steepest drop in shopper numbers since the end of 2010. The number of people visiting shops in March dropped 6% compared with the same month last year after strong winds and snow hit the UK. A survey of Visa card users indicated that consumer spending slid 2% in March, rounding off a poor start to the year for the retail sector.
UK car leasing costs driven up 9% in a year because of Brexit, research shows
The cost of leasing a new car in the UK has gone up 9 per cent in the space of a year due to the weak pound in the wake of the Brexit vote. Research by accountancy group UHY Hacker Young shows the monthly cost of leasing a car rose from an average of £232 in February 2017 to £253 in the same month this year, based on a basket of some of the most popular car models in the UK. The weakened pound is pushing import costs up for motor manufacturers, UHY said, and those companies are beginning to pass the expense on to consumers. Prices are also being pushed up by strengthening sales in European markets, the accounting firm said, with less stock making its way to the UK.