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Mid Week NewsBack


UK unemployment rate falls to fresh 11 year low unemployment image

The UK unemployment rate has fallen to 4.9%, the lowest since July 2005, according to official figures.

The unemployment total fell to 1.65 million in the March-to-May period, down 54,000 from the previous quarter, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said. The number of people in work rose by 176,000, with the employment rate remaining at a record high of 74.4%. The figures cover the period before the UK vote to leave the European Union.


Vauxhall admits first Zafira fire recorded in 2009

Vauxhall revealed it was told about a problem that caused its Zafira B model to catch fire more than six years before it recalled the vehicles. MPs have called the car maker’s reaction “wholly inadequate”, accusing it of treating owners with “complete contempt”.

Vauxhall has twice recalled more than 230,000 Zafira B cars in the UK – last December, and May this year. However, Zafiras had been recorded bursting into flames since 2009.



The Financial Times


UK industry welcomes Theresa May’s strategy pledge

The message could not be clearer: under Theresa May, Britain will have a “comprehensive industrial strategy”.

Greg Clark has been made secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, instead of being in charge of business, innovation and skills, like his predecessor. “Putting industrial strategy in the title of the department is a dramatic step-change,” said one aerospace executive on Tuesday. Days before she became prime minister, Mrs May delivered a stinging appraisal of George Osborne’s stewardship of the economy. With the Treasury dominant to the business department in shaping the business landscape, there had been a “striking” lack of deep economic reform and a stubborn “problem with productivity”.


EU fines truck makers a record €2.93bn for running 14-year cartel trucks

Europe’s largest truck makers are facing lawsuits from haulage groups across the continent after admitting to involvement in a 14-year price-fixing cartel as a result of which they were fined a record total of €2.93bn. Five companies — Iveco, DAF, Volvo/Renault, Daimler and MAN — fixed prices for their vehicles and worked together to delay the introduction of emissions technology, according to Margrethe Vestager, EU competition commissioner. As a result, on Tuesday, four of them were handed the largest cartel fine in EU history — more than double the previous record — following a five-year investigation that began in 2011.

MAN, as the whistleblower in the case, avoided a penalty that would have been €1.2bn.


Volvo cost-cutting programme delivers profits boost Volvo

Volvo Group provided further evidence that the Swedish truckmaker’s turnround was bearing fruit as it beat profit forecasts despite the decline in demand in the North American heavy vehicle market. Volvo lowered its outlook for North America this year for the third time in 2016 after orders fell 29 per cent in the region in the second quarter. Order intake globally for trucks fell 8 per cent compared with a 1 per cent fall predicted by analysts.


VW boss told of emissions issue in 2006, says New York attorney-general

Matthias Müller, chief executive of Volkswagen, was party to engineering discussions 10 years ago that ultimately led to the use of emissions-cheating devices in VW’s diesel cars, New York state’s top law enforcement official has alleged. A civil suit, filed by New York attorney-general Eric Schneiderman, also accuses VW of orchestrating a “cover-up” from 2014 to conceal the existence of the devices, which served to illegally understate vehicles’ emissions of harmful nitrogen oxides in official tests.


IMF cuts growth forecast for UK following Brexit vote brexit economy image

The International Monetary Fund has slashed its forecasts for the UK economy next year after Britain’s vote to leave the EU and warned the decision has thrown a “spanner in the works” for global growth. Even if the UK reaches a quick deal with the remaining 27 EU countries without new trade barriers, the IMF expects Britain’s economy to grow by 1.3 per cent instead of 2.2 per cent in 2017, its biggest downgrade for any advanced economy.  The fund, which repeatedly voiced concerns about a Brexit ahead of the June 23 referendum vote, also cut 0.2 percentage points from its UK growth forecasts for 2016 in its World Economic Outlook update.



The Times


Living wage overlooked in government’s red tape reduction plan living wage

The government’s plan to cut £10 billion of red tape is flawed as it ignores the national living wage and tuition fee reforms, a watchdog claims. The national living wage, which came into force in April and is set to rise above £9 an hour by 2020, will have a net direct cost of £821 million for business in its first year, the Regulatory Policy Committee says today in its annual review. However, this has been excluded from the government’s Business Impact Target, which aims to reduce the cost of regulation by £10 billion between 2015 and 2020, it said.



The Daily Telegraph


Think self-driving cars could mean an end to traffic jams? Think again…

The dream of self-driving cars extinguishing traffic jams for good may remain just that, as computerised vehicles could make Britain’s roads more congested, not less, according to a new report. A mixture of self-driving cars powered by proprietary systems alongside traditional cars could be a recipe for chaos, the study by location technology company Here and analyst group SBD found. “Autonomous cars have the potential in the long term to revolutionise mobility and radically improve the safety of our roads,” said Andrew Hart, director at SBD. “However, the journey towards the fully autonomous car is full of potholes, which may create short-term pains in unexpected ways.” The report predicts that greater adoption of less advanced self-driving technology such as adaptive cruise control – which automatically keeps cars a safe distance apart, despite changes in speed, with a human monitoring and ready to take over if necessary – will cut congestion as they allow more cars to fit on the road



The Daily Mail


VW’s Audi plans electric car push to put heat on Tesla audi driverless car

Audi will aim for electric cars to account for a quarter of its sales by 2025 as part of a strategic overhaul following the emissions scandal at parent Volkswagen, company sources said, in a move that could step up the challenge to U.S. group Tesla. Audi, which has been slow to embrace battery-powered vehicles, will now invest about a third of its research and development (R&D) budget into electric cars, digital services, and autonomous driving, two company sources told Reuters. Based on the 1.8 million cars sold by the German automaker last year, that would mean it selling at least 450,000 electric cars a year. Factoring in an expected rise in sales, that could turn Audi into a major competitor to Tesla, which believes it can sell 500,000 electric cars by 2020 or sooner.

With the exception of BMW, Germany’s luxury automakers have been late to develop electric vehicles, a market which is still loss-making. But Audi’s parent Volkswagen is under pressure to clean up its image in the wake of its emissions-test cheating scandal.

Posted by Paul Carpenter on 20/07/2016