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Carmakers recalled about 64 million vehicles in the U.S. last year, more than double the previous record set in 2004, according to official government data. The tally released Thursday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration closes the book on one of the worst years ever for automotive safety as defective General Motors Co. ignition switches and exploding Takata Corp. air bags sent millions of drivers to dealerships in search of repairs. “These figures demonstrate the need for vigorous, effective oversight to remove safety defects from our highways,” NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said in a statement. “When defective vehicles or equipment put Americans’ safety at risk, NHTSA will act.”
More than 25,000 plug-in car and plug-in van grant claims have been submitted since the scheme began in 2010.
January saw nearly 2000 claims, and total ULEV sales in 2014 were four times the level of the previous year. The UK is now ahead of France and Germany in ULEV take-up.
25 car models and 7 van models are currently eligible for the plug-in grant, with a further 40 ULEV models from major manufacturers expected to come to market over the next 3 years.
Transport minister Baroness Kramer said: “More and more people are deciding a ULEV is the right choice for them. They are great to drive, easily chargeable at home or on the street, and cheap to use with running costs from just 2 pence a mile. The government’s £500 million investment will help more models become available to suit a wide range of budgets. This thriving industry will support jobs and build a stronger economy.”
While plug-in car grant eligibility remains the same, a new banding system has been introduced to help prioritise grants once 50,000 have been claimed.
• Category 1: CO2 emissions of less than 50g/km and a zero emission range of at least 70 miles
• Category 2: CO2 emissions of less than 50g/km and a zero emission range between 10 and 69 miles
• Category 3: CO2 emissions of 50-75g/km and a zero emission range of at least 20 miles.
Until 31 March 2015, all qualifying cars will continue to receive a grant offer of 25% off the basic price of the car, capped at £5,000.
From 1 April 2015, cars will qualify for a 35% grant off the basic price of the car. The cap will remain at £5,000 for all cars, regardless of which category they are in, until further notice.
The London Assembly Environment Committee is calling for Transport for London and mayor Boris Johnson to introduce the proposed Ultra Low Emission Zone sooner than 2020.
The public consultation on the scheme ended last month and TfL said it is currently analysing responses and will then make a recommendation to the mayor. Should the ULEZ proposal go ahead, it would be introduced in September 2020.
Under the zone’s proposal, all vehicles would have to meet new emissions standards that would be in place at all times, with the hope of the ULEZ halving emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate matter (PM10) from exhausts.
However, the LAEC believes the plans for the zone are too little, too late. It has suggested the scheme should be implemented sooner than 2020 with the non-compliance charge of £12.50 per day increasing over the zone’s first few years.
The other recommendations made by the group are:
• Discussions with boroughs on the costs, benefits and practicalities of a wider ULEZ should be progressed, with a view to widening the ULEZ beyond the Congestion Charge Zone as soon as possible.
• The standards of the ULEZ must be kept under review, and should be tightened to drive the uptake of lower-emissions vehicles as they become more widely available.
The LARC said the mayor, London boroughs and the Government should establish how the city could achieve full compliance with air pollution limits by 2020.
The CBI has upgraded its growth prediction for 2015 in its latest economic forecast against a backdrop of lower oil prices and inflation
Job creation continues apace and wage growth is finally picking up. Coupled with low inflation, this will give a boost to real household incomes, going some way to improving living standards. Lower energy prices are also feeding through to lower operating costs for companies, leaving more space for investment.
The brighter picture for growth this year of 2.7% (from 2.5% expected in November) also reflects the likelihood that the MPC won’t raise interest rates until early next year, helping to support growth of 2.6% in 2016.
But political volatility, both domestic and foreign, continues as the UK general election approaches, Greece’s fiscal position remains in the spotlight and instability continues in Ukraine. As a result, exporters are finding it harder to secure orders and net trade is unlikely to provide much of a boost to growth over the next two years.
Katja Hall, CBI Deputy director-general, said, ‘UK growth continues to outshine its counterparts in Europe and progress is ‘steady as she goes’.
‘While lower oil prices are keeping costs down for businesses and consumers, the North Sea oil companies are suffering, harming jobs and investment in the industry.
‘Now is not the time for complacency, but falling unemployment coupled with improving wage growth and rock bottom inflation should mean that people see more money in their pockets.
‘But businesses are looking on anxiously as insecurity continues to troll the Eurozone and instability remains elsewhere.’
GDP growth is expected to remain steady throughout this year, rising by 0.7% each quarter. GDP is then forecast to grow strongly in 2016, by 2.6% over the year as a whole. This translates into growth of 0.6% a quarter.
Manufacturers should alter their new car sales targets and allow the March plate change to become the ‘natural’ peak month of the year, says Glass’s.
Currently, most franchise dealers are given higher targets for September – even though consumers appear to prefer the March plate because it clearly shows the year of registration.
This is reflected in actual sales figures. In 2014, March registrations reached 464,824 while September totalled 425,861, despite manufacturer and dealer activities heavily promoting the later change in order to maximise new car sales in September.
Many dealers face ambitious new car sales targets for 2015 and are sceptical about their ability to meet them, without distressing the market, explained car editor Jonathan Brown. Complications such as attempting to move the peak sales month only added further pressure.
He said, ‘Almost every franchise dealer will tell you that March is the natural high point of the year and they suggest that manufacturers should set targets accordingly. Customers much prefer to have the current year clearly visible in their new registration plate.
‘However, manufacturers insist on putting even more effort into the September change and setting higher targets, which adds pressure on dealers to artificially skew volume into the later plate change, something that takes a lot of effort.
‘It is something that dealers do grumble about. In our view, the new car market would operate more effectively and with less damage to residual values if it was agreed that March was the peak month with targets and incentives aligned accordingly.’
Companies that offer to wind back the mileage on cars and other road vehicles will be outlawed across the EU by mid-May 2018, AA Cars has learned.
As part of The AA’s work with motoring organisations across Europe, lobbying by the Czech motoring organisation revealed the clampdown on mileage adjusters.
In response to a question from the Czech group, EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc said: “The new directive* on periodic roadworthiness tests foresees the compulsory check of the odometer during a roadworthiness check.”
She added: “The directive* explicitly stipulates that if the odometer is found to have been manipulated with the aim of reducing or misrepresenting the distance record of a vehicle the Member State shall ensure that appropriate penalties are in place.
“Consequently the Commission considers that offering services linked to the manipulation of the tachometer cannot be considered as a legal activity.
“Member States are obliged to transpose the provisions of the directive by May 20, 2018, at the latest.”