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UK car registrations fall 8.5% in May
Sales of new cars fell 8.5% in May from a year earlier, with buyers cautious in the run-up to the general election, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has said. The SMMT said 186,265 new cars were registered in May. But sales of alternatively fuelled cars rebounded after falling in April. They now have a record 4.4% market share. More than 1.1 million new cars have been registered this year to date, down 0.6% on 2016.
Manufacturing sees ‘buoyant’ European demand, survey says
British manufacturing growth remains strong, with exports up and companies positive about prospects for the rest of 2017, a survey shows. The EEF employers’ organisation, which said companies’ recruitment plans are healthy, raised its manufacturing growth forecasts for 2017 and 2018. The survey, compiled with accountancy firm BDO, said demand from European markets was particularly strong. Despite Brexit fears and the election, confidence is high, the EEF said.
Delays to rate compensation ‘hitting small business prospects’
Small business owners have hit out at delays to compensation promised to companies suffering from high business rates. Thousands of companies were told they would receive financial assistance to soften the blow of increased business rates, the tax based on the rental value of commercial properties. Some suffered rates rises of up to 3,000 per cent after changes in April, because of a long delayed revaluation of commercial property values last year. Although most companies did not face an increase, there was outcry on behalf of those that did. In the March budget, measures were outlined to help those facing the biggest increases, including a £300 million “hardship fund”.
Used car batteries will power homes
Old electric vehicle batteries are to be sold to households to store power in their homes under plans announced by Renault. The company, Europe’s biggest electric carmaker, has struck a deal with the domestic battery provider Powervault to repurpose old batteries when they are no longer fit for use in cars. Powervault said that using the “second life” batteries would enable it to offer home storage for about £3,000, a 30 per cent discount on new lithium-ion home batteries, and should boost take-up. Only a few thousand UK households are thought to have installed batteries, but it is considered a fast-growing market as technology costs fall.
Babies born today may never need to learn to drive, says Axa UK chief
The boss of an insurance giant has warned that the sector will soon be completely disrupted by self-driving cars, with those born this year likely to never need a driving lesson. Research is so fast-moving that self-driving vehicles could hit the roads within 15 years, Axa UK’s chief executive Amanda Blanc has predicted, meaning “babies born today may never have to take a driving test.” Preparing for autonomous cars to be on the roads as soon as 2032, Ms Blanc said it is “crucial” for the insurance industry to build a framework for what will happen in the event of a car accident in future, when the driver is likely to be a computer.
Fumes from diesel engines slow down children’s brains, new research show
Children’s brains slow down when they are exposed to high levels of air pollution, according to an alarming study.
Pupils who breathed in toxic diesel fumes on the way to school struggled to perform as well as normal, scientists found. The children took longer to respond to questions and found it harder than usual to concentrate. On days when air pollution peaked, the problems worsened. The disturbing findings appear to confirm some scientists’ fears that polluted air in Britain’s cities is poisoning youngsters’ brains as well as their lungs. Earlier this year a study linked toxic air to 40,000 deaths a year in the UK – and Brussels warned Britain it could face fines if it continued to breach EU air pollution limits. Prime Minister Theresa May recently warned that air pollution was the fourth biggest health risk behind cancer, obesity and heart disease.
Hands-free doubles the risk while driving: Motorists take a tenth of the second longer to react to dangers
Speaking on a hands-free mobile phone in a car makes drivers take almost twice as long to react to hazards, scientists have found. They said motorists took a tenth of a second longer to see potential dangers on the road.
Hands-free conversations behind the wheel are legal in Britain. They are thought to be safer than using a hand-held phone, for which drivers face six penalty points and a £200 fine following the Mail’s End The Mobile Madness campaign.