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The UK’s economic growth slowed in the first quarter of the year, hit by a drop in manufacturing and construction output, official figures have shown. Gross domestic product grew by 0.4% between January and March, down from 0.6% in the fourth quarter, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said. On an annual basis, growth was 2.1%.
The 0.4% rate was in line with economists’ expectations, and marks the 13th consecutive quarter of positive growth for the UK.
Google has formed a coalition with carmakers and taxi-hailing companies to help steer the regulations needed to make self-drive cars a reality. Including Ford, Volvo, Uber and Lyft, it will lobby lawmakers and regulators on some of the legal barriers. Former US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration official David Strickland will be its spokesman. The coalition also aims to convince the public of the benefits of driverless cars.
Shares in embattled Mitsubishi Motors continued their slide on Wednesday, ahead of earnings due out later on Wednesday. Mitsubishi Motors shares fell 2.8% during the session. The company’s share price has tumbled by more than 50% since it last week admitted to rigging its fuel efficiency tests.
The Financial Times
One hundred families will be driven around in autonomous cars in the most ambitious test of driverless vehicles in Britain to date. Volvo will begin a scheme next year to assess how consumers use its technology, which will let them take hands off the steering wheel on main roads such as motorways and A roads.
The Daily Telegraph
Charges on polluting vehicles entering town and city centres could be introduced in dozens of areas across the UK under plans to help improve air quality. Ministers have already announced plans to impose “clean air zones” in five UK cities to help tackle dangerous levels of nitrogen dioxide, but have now confirmed that other areas will be encouraged to follow suit. MPs on the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Efra) select committee on Wednesday call for “new clean air zones in dozens of English towns and cities to cut the risk of cardiac, respiratory and other diseases”.
British households will be saddled with a tax-like financial burden for years if they vote to leave the EU, one of the world’s leading forecasting groups has warned. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said the average UK worker would lose out on a month’s pay by 2020, with further losses in subsequent years, if Brexit goes ahead.
The Daily Mail
Volkswagen has no right to use the crisis over its emissions test cheating to deny workers a reasonable wage increase, the IG Metall union said, reiterating its call for a 5 percent pay hike for about 120,000 VW staff in western Germany.
VW plunged to the biggest loss in its history last year after it set aside 16.2 billion euros ($18.3 billion) to help meet costs arising from its cheating. The carmaker, which could still face more costs from a U.S. Department of Justice investigation, also cut its dividend for the first time in six years.
Motorists are to be banned from driving down the Champs-Elysees for one day a month in a bid to cut smog in Paris.
The road will be off-limits to cars on the first Sunday of every month from May. But in typically Parisian style, the first pedestrian-only day will be May 8 instead of May 1, because it is a public holiday and many of the council workers needed to run the scheme will be off work. From then on, cars will be banished from the 1.2-mile boulevard on the first Sunday of every month when museums in Paris are also free to the public.
The Motability scheme enables disabled people to exchange their mobility allowance, paid as part of their benefits, to lease a new car, scooter or powered wheelchair. The benefits of the scheme include a new vehicle every three years, insurance, servicing and maintenance, breakdown cover, annual vehicle tax, tyre and windscreen replacement and a 60,000 mileage allowance over three years. All an eligible person needs to do is select a car within their allowance options. The Motability scheme, run by a charity, offers further financial help towards the least expensive option to those who meet certain criteria. A car dealership taking part in the scheme supplies the car. At the end of the one, two or three-year lease the disabled person simply returns the car and selects a new one.