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UK retail sales growth continues in July
UK retail sales increased in July as stronger spending on food offset a fall in the purchase of other goods, according to official figures. The volume of sales grew by 0.3% compared with June, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said. However, the figure for June’s retail sales growth was revised down from 0.6% to 0.3%.
The latest data shows that the volume of food sales rose by 1.5% in July, having fallen by 1.1% in June. The ONS said all other sectors saw a fall in volume sales apart from household goods.
Barcelona attack: Theresa May says the UK stands with Spain
UK Prime Minister Theresa May says her thoughts are with the victims of the “terrible attack” in Barcelona.
“The UK stands with Spain against terror,” she added. Officials in the city say at least 13 people were killed and 80 hurt when a van ploughed into pedestrians on the main street of Las Ramblas. The Foreign Office has issued advice to tourists to “stay inside and away from Las Ramblas” and wait for police to say it is safe to move.
Hyundai vows to produce longer-range electric car
Korean carmaker Hyundai is wading further into the electric vehicle market, promising a car that can go 500km (311 miles) on each charge. Hyundai already has an electric model on the market, but its range lags behind its competitors’ models. Along with its affiliate Kia, Hyundai is planning 31 eco-friendly models by 2020. The latest move comes amid increasing competition in the market for ecologically-friendly cars. Hyundai’s environmentally-conscious new additions will include three plug-in hybrid vehicles, eight battery-powered cars and two fuel-cell vehicles.
Dwindling fuel duty sparks interest in road pricing
For decades, fuel duty has given the government a way to charge drivers in the UK for the costs they impose on others by degrading the roads and polluting the air. The tax, which is a levy on each litre of petrol and diesel, has also provided a valuable source of government revenue. Last year, fuel duty generated £27.9bn for the Treasury, or 1.4 per cent of national income. A further £5.8bn was raised from vehicle excise duty, and £200m from a levy on heavy goods vehicles. Together, the three taxes made up almost 5 per cent of government revenues. But those revenues are under threat as cars become increasingly fuel-efficient and fully electric vehicles, which are exempt from nearly all taxes, become more popular. Twenty years ago, fuel duty generated revenues worth 2.2 per cent of national income.
BYD sales drop by a fifth on cuts to electric car subsidies
China’s BYD, the world’s largest electric carmaker in 2016, saw new energy vehicle sales slump this year after cuts in government subsidies offered to consumers. The event shows the sensitivity to Beijing’s price supports of the country’s burgeoning electric car sector, which has more than 200 groups positioned to make electric vehicles. Rotterdam-based researcher DDT Services estimated the electric carmaker saw a 20 per cent year-on-year drop in sales of hybrid and pure electric cars in the first half of 2017. This has meant the Shenzhen-based company has lost its place as the country’s leading vendor of new-energy vehicles to local rival BAIC. BAIC saw its NEV sales roughly double to 12,700 units sold in the first quarter, becoming the top producer in China.
Apprenticeships are safe despite loss of 50 jobs as training company fails
A training company running apprenticeships in Norfolk has gone into administration with the loss of 57 jobs. Norfolk Training Services have appointed Larking and Gowen as administrators. NTS had been trying to raise extra funds and had made redundancies as part of a “rationalisation” process but it didn’t solve the problem of a shortfall in funds. NTS runs around 400 apprenticeships – but Larking and Gowen say the schemes will be taken over by another provider and apprentices will not be cut adrift.
Ford to ditch steering wheels in driverless cars of the future
Ford has moved a step closer in its plans to make autonomous vehicles after it was granted a patent for a car with a fully removable steering wheel and foot pedals. The US car giant’s design would allow the steering wheel to be removed from the vehicle, placing the air bag in a compartment in front of what was the driver’s seat. Ford said the steering wheel, which would be refitted if needed for tasks such as testing the car, could be an optional extra in future.
Funeral demand drives sales at Royal London
Royal London has seen its sales soar this year as a spike in the cost of funerals drives people towards products that can help them save for their own send-off. The pensions provider saw sales of its pre-paid funeral plans soar 41pc in the six months to June 30 as costs spiral, with the Scottish government last week proposing to help families struggling with funeral debt. “The cost of funerals has been rising more than the cost of houses,” chief executive Phil Loney said. “The cost of land and the cost of church services is going up as [there are] more and more deaths and more and more people.”
Diesel trade-in scheme offers bonuses
Nearly half a million diesel car owners could be eligible for bonuses if they trade in for an electric car, a study has found. According to Cartell, an Irish car history check service, there are 474,624 Irish diesel cars with an emission standard of Euro 4 or lower, below the EU’s air quality control standard of Euro 6. Jeff Aherne, the director engineer at Cartell, said that vehicle manufacturers were making moves to take older diesel-powered vehicles off the road. “The numbers we have published show the manufacturers can make considerable inroads by focusing simply on EU4 emission standard vehicles and below, where there are almost half a million vehicles in play,” he said.