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Plunge in new car sales blamed on vehicle tax changes
New car sales plunged by a fifth in April compared to the same month last year, industry figures show. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said new car registrations slumped by 19.8% to 152,076. It said the “significant decline” came after motorists brought forward purchases to March – when there had been an “exceptional performance” – to avoid new vehicle excise duty (VED) rates which came into force on 1 April. The worst fall was among private motorists, where sales volumes dropped by 28.4%, while demand from businesses and large fleets was also down. However the SMMT said the overall new car market remained strong for the year-to-date, with new registrations in the first four months of 2017 1.1% ahead of last year at 972,092, the highest level on record.
REMINDER: Deadline to dig out old paper £5 notes
Millions of paper fivers are still in purses, wallets and piggy banks, despite the banknote ceasing to be legal tender by the weekend. The Bank of England said 150 million of its paper £5 notes – the equivalent of about three for every adult in the UK – remain with the public. Shops may refuse them from Saturday, although banks should exchange them. The change to polymer £5 notes marks a temporary absence of women, apart from the Queen, on the Bank’s banknotes. Social reformer Elizabeth Fry’s portrait has been on the paper £5 note for 15 years. That note will no longer be legal tender from midnight on Friday night. The paper £5 has been replaced by the polymer note featuring Sir Winston Churchill.
Prince Philip to step down from carrying out royal engagements
The Duke of Edinburgh is retiring from royal duties this autumn, Buckingham Palace has announced.
The decision was made by Prince Philip himself and is supported by the Queen, a palace spokesman said.
He will attend previously scheduled engagements between now and August, on his own and accompanying the Queen, but will not accept new invitations. The prince – who turns 96 next month – carried out 110 days of engagements in 2016.
Royal Dutch Shell sees profits jump as oil price rises
Royal Dutch Shell’s profits surged in the first three months of the year on the back of rising oil prices.
The Anglo-Dutch giant said profits on a current cost of supply measure – which strips out price fluctuations – jumped to $3.4bn (£2.6bn) from $1bn last year. A 55% rise in oil prices in the first quarter of 2017 compared with a year earlier was the main driver of profits.
Cardiff council makes £4.5m from fining motorists
Drivers in Cardiff have been fined more than £4.5m for parking and motoring offences in the last year.
The city council said it had earned £4.72m between April 2016 and April 2017. The RAC Foundation warned money being made from fines should not be seen as “a mark of success”. But the local authority stressed provisional figures showed it made just £390,325 profit, as the majority of the money went on enforcement costs. According to the council, the average amount of money made in each quarter was £1.2m.
VW rebounds from crisis as earnings beat forecasts
Volkswagen is rebounding strongly from the 2015 diesel emissions crisis as earnings topped estimates and the group highlighted a “wealth of new models and technologies”. Cost-cutting efforts at the core VW brand and rising sales in Europe helped the world’s largest carmaker propel net profit in the first three months of the year 44 per cent higher than a year ago to €3.4bn. The VW Group comprises 12 brands including Porsche, Audi, Skoda and truckmaker Scania.
May accuses Brussels of trying to influence UK election
Theresa May has accused “European politicians and officials” of threatening Britain and trying to sabotage her attempt to win the general election in an apparently deliberate move to stoke Brexit tensions with Brussels. Standing on the steps of Number 10, Mrs May claimed that events of recent days showed that “there are some in Brussels who do not want these [Brexit] talks to succeed”. Mrs May accused some in the EU of wanting to weaken the UK, creating the impression of a country under economic attack and where only she offered the calibre of leadership needed to “fight for Britain”.
Signal shield to stop motorists reaching for their mobiles
Motorists will be urged to put their mobile phone in a car compartment that blocks signals under plans to prevent dangerous distractions at the wheel. The carmaker Nissan has developed the so-called “signal shield” to eliminate distractions caused by incoming calls, messages and social media notifications. It was announced yesterday that the company had built the system into the armrest of its Juke crossover vehicle. The box works on the principle of the Faraday cage, invented in the 1830s, which uses material such as a wire mesh to shield its contents from electromagnetic fields. All mobile, Bluetooth and wifi signals are prevented from reaching inside the compartment once the lid is closed.
Direct Line drives up insurance premiums
One of Britain’s biggest motor insurers has lifted car insurance premium prices by 6.6 per cent since the shock decision in February to sweeten the official formula used to calculate compensation for accident victims. Direct Line, reporting first-quarter figures yesterday, said that it had increased prices since the justice secretary’s decision to change the Ogden formula because of the anticipated impact it would have on the cost of claims. Average written premiums were up by 6.6 per cent, while risk adjusted prices “increased by significantly more than that”, a reference to higher risk categories of drivers such as the young.
Jaguar Land Rover starts education scheme to counter ‘demonisation’ of diesel
Fears about the “demonisation” of diesel cars after the emissions scandal have forced Jaguar Land Rover to launch an education programme to convince buyers their vehicles are safe. Britain’s biggest car maker has launched a company-wide scheme so dealers can reassure customers who are concerned that diesel-powered vehicles could be driven off the roads. News of the plan comes days ahead of the Government’s expected announcement of a “scrappage” scheme to incentivise motorists to trade in older, highly polluting diesel cars or retrofit them with systems to reduce their emissions.
Airbnb-style electric car site lets you charge up your vehicle on someone else’s driveway
Running out of juice on long journeys is one the downsides to owning an electric car, but a new website could make this a thing of the past. Chargie allows people to rent out their charging sockets in a similar way to private property rental app Airbnb. The service is currently in the testing phase but is due to officially launch later this month.
Supermarket petrol price war kicks off after three chains announce they are reducing diesel by 2p and unleaded by 1p at their pumps
Another petrol price war kicked off yesterday among some of Britain’s biggest grocers. Three supermarkets announced fuel price cuts amid a fall in wholesale costs. Morrisons, Tesco and Sainsbury’s said they will reduce the cost of diesel by 2p per litre and unleaded by 1p at all of their filling stations today.
Diesel drivers to be offered cash to ditch highly-polluting cars in ‘targeted’ scrappage scheme
DIESEL drivers will be offered cash to ditch their cars under plans to be unveiled on Friday. The Government’s crackdown on toxic air is expected to hit motorists with congestion charges, extra parking fees and higher fuel tax.
But crucially the plan is set to include “targeted” a scrappage scheme to protect those who were encouraged to buy diesel under the last Labour government. The draft proposals are also expected to include a plan to offer diesel drivers filters that will reduce the levels of toxic nitrogen dioxide emissions. A Tory source said: “We are cleaning up Labour’s mess.”