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UK new car sales rose in September, helped by strong purchases from fleet buyers and the new 66 number plate. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said 469,696 new cars were registered in the month, a rise of 1.6% from 462,517 last year. It is the highest sales total for September on record, but the figures also showed sales to private motorists fell for the sixth month in a row. The best-selling new car in September was the Ford Fiesta.
Honda and Yamaha, the motorcycle makers whose rivalry became the defining case-study of blinkered Japanese belligerence in business, have declared an armistice and agreed to work together. Discussions between the former foes, which each risked financial ruin in the quest to drive the other out of the Japanese two-wheeler market, could put Honda in the role of original equipment manufacturer (OEM) for Yamaha — a position that highlights the relative strength of the Yamaha brand. Negotiations on an alliance, which were revealed in Tokyo on Wednesday and would only lead to the two co-operating on models for sale in the Japanese market, are expected to see the pair engaging in joint development of next-generation electric scooters.
Self-driving cars have captured the imagination of investors looking for tax breaks as new technology promises to revolutionise the motor industry. Managers of enterprise investment scheme (EIS) funds, which give investors an incentive to finance early-stage companies by offering generous tax breaks, are funding tech start-ups specialising in driverless cars. “This is a utopian future to some extent, but also when you think about some of the tech around this — it already exists,” said Tom Bradley, partner at EIS fund manager Oxford Capital. The Oxford-based investment company said it is already speaking with companies involved in developing the algorithms needed for self-driving cars.
New business in Britain’s dominant services sector rose to a seven-month high in September, the latest indication that the UK has rebounded quickly from the shock of June’s Brexit vote. The new Purchasing Managers’ Index showed overall activity in the sector was higher than most analysts expected — although it was down slightly at 52.6 in September from 52.9 in August, when it staged the biggest one-month gain in the survey’s 20-year history. The data, from information provider IHS Markit and the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (Cips), follow similarly robust surveys of the manufacturing and construction sectors earlier this week.
A petrol station business set up by two brothers more than ten years ago has joined forces with a French rival to create Europe’s largest independent forecourt operator. In a transaction that highlights the consolidation in petrol retailing, Euro Garages is to merge with European Forecourt Retail, of France. The combined group will have annual revenues of €6 billion from about 1,450 petrol stations and convenience stores across Britain, France and the Benelux countries, staffed by 8,500 employees.
Up to 80,000 jobs in Scotland could be lost if Theresa May makes good her hint she will pursue a ‘hard’ Brexit without free movement, according to the first detailed analysis of the impact north of the Border. Researchers at Strathclyde University’s Fraser of Allander Institute found that leaving the EU would have a negative economic impact regardless of the deal the Prime Minister strikes but Scotland would not be as badly affected as the rest of the UK. They warned a looser relationship with the EU would worsen the economic impact, with sectors such as food and drink, legal services and finance particularly vulnerable thanks to their reliance on European markets.
Theresa May suggested monetary policy from the Bank of England was doing more harm than good. Because while monetary policy – with super-low interest rates and Quantitative Easing – provided the necessary emergency medicine after the financial crash, we have to acknowledge there have been some bad side effects, she told the conference hall. People with assets have got richer. People without them have suffered. People with mortgages have found their debts cheaper. People with savings have found themselves poorer. A change has got to come. And we are going to deliver it.
Among London’s black cabbies the received wisdom used to be that whether you wanted to travel to the east or west, ‘the Embankment is best’. Not anymore. Flag down a taxi and ask to travel along the Victorian thoroughfare that borders the Thames in Central London and passengers are met by the driver’s pitying stare — and a meter that just ticks on and on and on.
Where once it could hold four lanes of traffic, a quarter of the road has now been given over to a dedicated two-way cycle lane.
As part of a £913 million project by former mayor Boris Johnson, a network of so-called cycle superhighways has sprung up across the capital, segregating road space for the exclusive use of cycles. Phased traffic lights that give bikes a head-start over cars have also been introduced. The idea is to enable cyclists to travel safely, encouraging more people to ditch four wheels for two, and so cut pollution. Which are, of course, noble aims.
Ford Motor, General Motors’ Vauxhall division and Nissan are among automakers that have raised prices for their new cars in the UK in response to the pound’s collapse following the country’s vote to leave the European Union. General Motors Europe President Karl-Thomas Neumann said prices of Vauxhall models will rise by at least 2 percent but the hike still will not be enough to recoup money lost after the pound’s fall against the euro. “We are taking other measures, even to the point of reducing some production,” he said at the Paris auto show last week.
Nissan increased prices by 1.5 percent to 2 percent starting this month, Nissan Europe’s head of sales and marketing, Guillaume Cartier, said at the show. This was the “first wave” in price rises, he said. He warned of a second wave as automakers try to recoup revenue following the pound’s collapse. “After that we will see if the pound stabilizes,” he said. Ford raised prices by around 1.5 percent last month, the company said. Honda and Suzuki are hiking prices this month, JATO Dynamics market researchers reported without giving an amount.
PSA Group was the first to react to the weaker pound when it increased prices by around 2 percent at the beginning of August.
Price rises will hurt car sales in the UK, Europe’s second largest market after Germany, JATO Dynamics analyst Felipe Munoz said at the time of the PSA price rise. However, Nissan’s Cartier said the prices rises will be partly offset by UK’s low interest rates, which reduces the cost of finance. More than 80 percent of the UK’s cars are bought with finance packages.
Audi’s labour boss has called on the automaker’s top management to build more electric models in Germany and extend a job guarantee for workers in its home market beyond 2018. Audi, which like its parent Volkswagen Group is grappling with the fallout from the group’s emissions-cheating scandal, must prolong a job guarantee for its 60,000 Germany-based staff as it pursues a strategic overhaul, works council chief Peter Mosch said.
Audi plans to invest about a third of its r&d budget into electric cars, digital services and autonomous driving and wants zero-emission vehicles to account for at least a quarter of its sales by 2025, mirroring plans by Volkswagen.