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Carbon emissions up as diesel sales dive
Drivers shunning diesel cars is partly to blame for a rise in carbon dioxide emissions from new vehicles, the car industry trade body. The 0.8% increase, to 121 grams per kilometre, is the first rise since the SMMT began reporting levels in 2000. Diesels typically emit up to 20% less CO2 than petrol cars and are more fuel-efficient. As well as slowing diesel sales, the SMMT said the popularity of SUVs contributed to the rise. SUVs produce about a quarter more CO2 than the smallest vehicles.
Aston Martin roars back into the black with £87m profit
Aston Martin, James Bond’s car maker of choice, sold just over 5,000 vehicles last year, allowing the firm to post its first annual profit since 2010. The British sports car producer made a pre-tax profit of £87m last year, compared with a £163m loss in 2016. Its flagship DB11 coupe proved popular with buyers, helping drive its sales tally to a nine-year high, Aston Martin said. It also confirmed it is considering a stock market listing. Revenue jumped 48% to £876m.
Social media firms ‘failing’ to tackle cyber-bullying
Social networks’ failure to tackle cyber-bullying is risking the mental health of young people, a Children’s Society survey has found. Almost half of 1,089 11 to 25-year-olds questioned for the Safety Net report had experienced threatening or nasty social media messages, emails or texts. Two-thirds said they would not tell their parents if they experienced something upsetting online. However 83% want social media companies to do more to tackle the problem.
Driverless cars given green light to operate in California
California has approved broad new rules allowing driverless cars that do not require a human operator to sit behind the wheel, in a long awaited win for Silicon Valley lobbyists. On Monday the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles was given the green light to allow car manufacturers and tech companies to test and deploy autonomous vehicles without a “natural person” inside the car. Until now, a human had always been present to take over in the event of emergency, a requirement that pushed some Silicon Valley companies to start testing outside their home state. “This is a major step forward for autonomous technology in California,” said Jean Shiomoto, director of the California DMV. However, some safety campaigners opposing the new scheme argue it could turn California’s roads into a potentially lethal “video game”.
Valeo doubles forecast for electric car sales
One of the biggest suppliers to the car industry has doubled its forecasts for electric vehicle sales globally following increased spending by manufacturers on the technology. Valeo, which makes a range of products from sensors through to software and engine parts, expects at least 10 per cent of all vehicles sold by 2025 to be powered by a battery, compared with the 5 to 6 per cent internal forecast it had last year. Electric cars currently account for less than 1 per cent of global vehicle sales, as the technology is more expensive than traditional engines and many nations lack sufficient infrastructure to charge the vehicles. But car manufacturers have ramped up spending on electric cars in recent months following the collapse of diesel sales across Europe and an increasing number of city authorities planning to ban older cars or impose electric-only zones.
Rip out safety railings to cut road deaths, say experts
More pedestrian barriers could be stripped away from roadsides after a study found railings can actually increase accidents by lulling pedestrians into a false sense of security. Researchers said the number of pedestrians killed and seriously injured was cut by 56 per cent in areas where roadside railings were ripped out. It was argued that motorists slowed down and were more vigilant on roads without barriers. Drivers were less likely to drive with “tunnel vision” where there was a heightened risk of pedestrians stepping out into the road, it emerged. The conclusions come after councils across the country started removing barriers used to separate streets from pavements a decade ago.
Consumer credit boom over as households cut back
British families cut back borrowing last month for the first time since mid-2013, slashing their use of consumer loans and overdrafts and easing off the credit card. Consumer credit fell by 0.2pc compared with January 2017, the first fall since July 2013, according to industry group UK Finance. Personal loans and overdraft usage fell by 4.6pc year on year while credit card borrowing rose by 4.8pc – the slowest increase since June 2015.It comes after Mark Carney and his colleagues at the Bank of England warned last year that consumer credit was booming at a potentially dangerous pace. Officials told banks to make sure their lending standards do not slip, and to hold sufficient capital against the unsecured loans to make sure the UK’s financial stability is not threatened in any future downturn.