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Union urges Ford to make electric move
The Unite union has urged Ford to convert its UK engine plants to making electric cars and battery technology. Currently Ford makes engines for the Ford Fiesta and Jaguar Land Rover vehicles at Bridgend in South Wales and diesel engines in Dagenham in Essex. Both plants faces uncertainty, as Jaguar plans to build its own engines and demand for diesel cars has plunged. Unite wants to secure the future of both plants by persuading Ford to switch them to electric vehicles.
We’re not out of austerity tunnel yet – Chancellor Philip Hammond
Chancellor Philip Hammond has rejected calls by Labour and some Conservatives to announce the end of austerity in his spring statement on Tuesday. He is expected to unveil the smallest budget deficit since 2002, thanks to better than expected public finances. But he told the BBC national debt was still too high, adding: “There is light at the end of the tunnel… but we are still in the tunnel at the moment.” Labour has urged him to end the “pain and misery” of public spending cuts. Mr Hammond told the Andrew Marr Show it would be wrong to pour “every penny” into additional public spending.
Renault-Nissan aims for next generation battery car in 2025
The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance is working to produce an electric car that uses solid-state batteries as early as 2025, in a move that puts it amid the frontrunners in the global race to launch the next generation of electric vehicles. Solid-state batteries offer a step change beyond the current liquid lithium ion technology, with the ability to hold more power and charge faster. Toyota is aiming to be first to market, with a target of commercialising a solid-state car battery in the first half of the 2020s. BMW also expects to release a car in 2026 using the next-generation technology.
Electric car sales tumble over price and plugs
The number of electric cars sold in Britain has fallen by a third since the start of the year, amid concerns that motorists are being put off by high prices, limited battery range and a lack of roadside charging points. Industry figures show that fewer than 1,000 battery powered cars have been sold since January 1, down 33.7 per cent on a year ago. Sales could fall further as a government grant of £4,500 ends next month.
Interest rate rises ‘threaten retailers caught in red zone’
Nearly 400 retailers, including big high street chains, could struggle to meet higher interest payments this year, a City financial analyst has warned. A study by Company Watch of 1,600 retailers with assets of at least £5 million has identified 392 in its “warning area”, suggesting that they are about 25 times more likely to suffer financial distress than their peers. Among them are New Look, Mothercare, Poundland, Debenhams, AO World, DFS and Conviviality. The study also found that 430 retail companies in its sample were loss-making, on a pre-tax statutory basis, again including household names such as Hobbs Fashion, Thomas Pink, Mamas & Papas, Missguided, Paperchase and Crew Clothing.
Untrained staff at Financial Ombudsman Service used Google to check out cases
Britain’s highest financial arbiter may have to reopen thousands of cases after an undercover investigation found that complaints had been handled by officials with inadequate training who had resorted to Google to understand the products involved. The Financial Ombudsman Service, responsible for settling disputes between consumers and City firms, has described the findings of a new documentary as “not representative of us at our best”. With more than a million consumers contacting the ombudsman each year, the pressure on the watchdog has led to fears that banks have been wrongly favoured over customers. Investigators at the ombudsman had been “churning” out decisions as they scrambled to meet targets, one said.
Volkswagens in Australia using more diesel after recall, research finds
Volkswagen cars in Australia are guzzling up to 14% more diesel fuel after a recall fix designed to cut emissions, research has found, reigniting calls for emissions to be tested in the real world rather than a laboratory. The analysis, commissioned by the Australian Automobile Association, which is campaigning for real-world testing, examined affected VW cars before recall and immediately after. A 2010 Volkswagen Golf used an average of 7% more fuel after it had been recalled, ranging from 2% more in urban areas to 14% more on highways. The real-world testing showed a reduction in harmful emissions, but emissions from nitrogen oxides were still four times the levels observed in lab testing. Consumer group Choice said the results underscored the “urgent need” to update the process used for testing cars sold in Australia.
Motability splurged £26million on office spruce up: Bosses at car scheme for the disabled gave go ahead to install new artworks and stone vases
The Motability scheme providing cars for the disabled has lavished £26million on refurbishing its offices, it emerged yesterday. Bosses sanctioned the installation of chrome fittings, art displays and stone vases at the taxpayer-funded company. The revelation follows a Daily Mail investigation exposing how Motability Operations has stockpiled £2.4billion of ‘spare’ money. The charitable scheme helps disabled people get around by leasing a car, scooter or powered wheelchair to them. Customers agree to their £58-a-week state mobility benefits being paid directly to the company, which hands them a new vehicle with insurance, tax, servicing and breakdown cover all taken care of. But the firm also paid its chief executive Mike Betts £1.7million last year – 11 times more than the Prime Minister earns.