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General news round-upBack

GMLogoGM recalls 221,558 sedans for fire risk

General Motors is recalling 221,558 Cadillac XTS and Chevrolet Impala sedans because the brake pads can stay partially engaged even when they’re not needed, increasing the risk of a fire. The recall involves Cadillacs from the 2013-2015 model years and Impalas from the 2014 and 2015 model years. There are 205,309 vehicles affected in the U.S.; the rest of the vehicles are in Canada and elsewhere.

Source: Associated Press

LabourPartyShadow industry minister pledges continuity for UK automotive

Shadow industry minister Iain Wright MP set out his party’s commitment to the continuation of successful automotive policies and institutions at the Labour Party Conference

Speaking at an SMMT breakfast as part of the event in Manchester, Iain said that The Advanced Propulsion Centre, Automotive Investment Organisation and the Automotive Council would all continue under a Labour government.

The minister also outlined Labour’s support for SMMT’s five manifesto priorities for next year’s General Election:
• Commitment to long-term industrial strategy
• Creating the right conditions for investment
• Positioning the UK as a global leader on innovation
• Supporting ultra-low emission vehicles and a strong, sustainable vehicle market
• Maintaining a strong UK voice in Europe


AALogoAA profits tumble in maiden results as listed company

Breakdown recovery group AA has reported a 1.6pc increase in first-half revenues to £491.7m as it posted its maiden results as a listed company.

However, while revenues rose, pre-tax profit tumbled to £10.2m, down from £121.2m in the same period last year, as financing and exceptional costs weighed on the business which styles itself as the “fourth emergency service”.

Exceptionals, which include the cost of the flotation, rose to £39.4m from £10.2m, and financing costs near-tripled to £138.6m, largely as a result of a new debt structure put in place by the previous owners.

In June a management team led by executive chairman Bob Mackenzie and backed by City fund managers bought 69pc of the business from a trio of private equity groups. In an accelerated listing the company was then floated at 250p during which the private equity funds sold off their remaining stakes.

In August chief executive Chris Jansen resigned with “immediate effect”, with the company saying the departure was by “mutual agreement” and reflected the fact that he was appointed by the previous private equity owners and the float meant his role had changed substantially.


PotHole1Public unhappy with state of roads, say MPs

Public satisfaction with the condition of the UK’s road network is at an all-time low, according to a group of MPs.

Only 30% of the public were satisfied with the condition of the roads and the speed and quality of repairs, a survey suggests, with the greatest problems in London and the South East, according to the Department for Transport (DfT).

Margaret Hodge, chair of the committee of public accounts, said: “The Department’s piecemeal and stop-go approach to funding for road maintenance in recent decades has made it difficult for highways authorities to maintain roads cost-effectively.

“There has been too much reactive work in response to flooding and other events and not enough focus on preventative work that is less expensive in the long-term.”

The committee says that the DfT’s “unpredictable and fluctuating budgets” for road maintenance over decades have put value for money at risk.

Hodge continued: “It seems ludicrous that in 2010 the Department cut road maintenance budgets by £1.2 billion over the four years from April 2011, but then it has intermittently given £1.1 billion additional funding on nine separate occasions for various reasons, including in response to flooding or winter damage to the roads.

“The Department must see that prevention is better than cure.”


DangerousTyresDangerous tyres cause deaths

Figures released by the Department for Transport (DfT) have highlighted the need for drivers to check their tyres regularly

The figures showed that more than 40% of vehicle defect-related deaths in the UK in 2013 were found to have been caused by illegal, defective or under-inflated tyres.

Indeed, a total of 2,855 casualties were caused by defective vehicles, with dangerous tyres cited as a contributory factor in 968 cases.

‘The latest figures are very worrying and sadly reflect a general attitude of indifference by many drivers towards checking their tyres regularly,’ commented Stuart Jackson, chairman, TyreSafe. ‘As the only part of your car in contact with the road, it’s vital that your tyres are looked after correctly and inspected regularly to ensure they will work properly in emergency situations when they are needed most.’

Further analysis of the DfT figures reveals that 45 per cent of tyre-related casualties were caused on A roads, and the most common region in England for tyre related casualties was the South East, accounting for 23 per cent.

The release of the figures comes just days before the start of October’s Tyre Safety Month campaign which will focus on the importance of driving on tyres with adequate tread depth. During the month thousands of garages and tyre retailers across the UK will be offering drivers complimentary tyre safety checks in what is normally the wettest month of the year.


FerrariSpiderFerrari recalls £200,000 cars because people can get trapped in boot

Ferrari is recalling more than 3,000 of its luxury sports cars because a fault with a latch means anyone trapped in the boot won’t be able to get out.

A recall notice states that the Italian car maker’s F458 Italia and F458 Spider models suffer from a fault that means the “secondary latch” in the boot, located at the front of the £200,000 cars, won’t release when the vehicle has stopped.

Ferrari said this means that “in the event an individual is trapped in the trunk and the latch system does not release the trunk lid, it increases the risk of personal injury or possibly death”.

In the US, where the notice was released, cars must have a working latch in the boot in case a person gets trapped. Ferrari has urged owners to take their cars to a dealer for a free repair

However, the fault with Ferrari’s 500-plus-horsepower cars only occurs when the car is stationary. So, anyone trapped inside should presumably wait until the cars, which both have a top speed of more than 200mph, are moving.


salesCar manufacturing hits reverse gear

UK car manufacturing went into reverse in August as factories closed for the summer holidays.

A total of 71,065 cars rolled off production lines last month, 22% less than the 91,282 cars built in August 2013, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The SMMT said August was typically a quiet month for car production, and the particularly sharp slowdown could be explained by the timing of factory shutdowns, with many closing a week later than last year.

Over a longer period, stripping out the monthly volatility, the SMMT figures showed car manufacturing in the first eight months of the year was 1% higher than the same period last year, at 994,949 vehicles. Almost 80% of those were built for export..

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “Volumes are still strong for the year to date, with the UK automotive sector in the midst of a renaissance. Global demand for quality UK-built products is at an unprecedented level, with significant investments into UK production facilities from government and industry currently being realised.”

The trade body believes UK car manufacturing will be boosted in the coming months, as factories feel the benefit of investment in the latest models, including the Mini five-door hatchback in Oxford, and the Jaguar XE in Solihull.


GoldPrice-fixing on gold, oil and financial products to become criminal offence

Fixing the price of gold, oil, and other financial products will become a criminal offence by the end of the year, the government announced on Thursday as it published a consultation on extending rules already introduced for Libor rigging.

Seven financial instruments are included in the consultation following recommendations by a review body being chaired by Bank of England deputy governor Minouche Shafik.

In his Mansion House speech in June, the chancellor, George Osborne, said he wanted to extend the regime introduced for Libor rigging to other benchmarks which were not directly regulated. After the Libor scandal erupted in 2012, the government made fixing the interest rate benchmark an offence that could lead to a seven-year jail term.

Of the seven benchmarks now being consulted on, three are linked to interest swaps – the so-called ISDA fix, and two rates known as Sonia and Ronia – while the others are gold, silver, the Brent oil futures contact and the currency benchmark known as WM which prices foreign exchange rates at 4pm London time. The currency markets are currently subject to a wide-ranging investigation by regulators, and a number of banks have warned they face fines, including Royal Bank of Scotland, which has said it could have a “material impact” on its profits.


Posted by Sue Robinson on 26/09/2014