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Inchcape passes £3BN mark in UK
Inchcape, the global automotive retailer and distributor, saw its turnover rise more than 11% to break the £3 billion barrier in the UK last year with a trading profit of £63.5 million. While Inchcape has changed the way it presents its financials and no longer gives a detailed breakdown of the UK figures, last year the group saw its total UK operating profit drop to £63.4 million against £65.2m in 2014. In 2015 the UK retail division saw a trading profit of £52.0m on sales of £2.7bn.
Auto Retail Agenda
MPs: UK Government industrial strategy ‘not long-term’
The Government’s industrial strategy shows little evidence of a long-term approach, say MPs. They called the plans a continuation of existing policies rather than the step change that is needed. The Prime Minister highlighted the strategy as part of her plan to create an economy that works for everyone. The government insists that the recent industrial strategy green paper represents an ambitious long-term vision for the UK.
The report by the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy select committee welcomed the government’s “re-found commitment” to an industrial strategy, but it warned the approach “appears to be evolutionary” and reflects a continuation of policies.
Consumers holding off on big buys
Consumers are increasingly worried about their personal finances as food and fuel prices rise, according to a survey.
A bounce in households’ optimism about their financial outlook in January evaporated in February, pulling the closely watched GFK consumer confidence barometer down by one point to -6. Households’ propensity to make a big purchase, such as furniture or electrical goods, dropped by five points to +5, stoking fears that the economy could be headed for a slowdown.
CBI warns Government against ‘flash-in-the-pan industrial strategies’
The head of the UK’s pre-eminent business lobby group is demanding that the Government sharpens its industrial strategy focus and provides more clarity on what kind of support it intends to offer firms as Britain braces to navigate economic headwinds and political uncertainty.
According to pre-released remarks that Carolyn Fairbairm is due to make in Leicester on Wednesday, the director-general of the CBI will say that the Government needs to answer key questions around where the UK economy and businesses are heading at a transformative time for the country.
Motor industry must look closer to home for parts
More parts for British-built cars will be sourced from within the UK under plans to insulate the automotive industry from the potentially devastating effects of a hard Brexit. Leading figures in the industry said that manufacturers were looking to the British supply chain because of the prospect of expensive tariffs being imposed on cross-border trade. At present almost two thirds of parts in British-built cars come from abroad, with the proportion as high as three quarters in vehicles such as the Vauxhall Astra. In some cases, parts are said to zig-zag across the Channel as many as 30 times during the production process.
How Ford will create a new generation of driverless cars
In four years Ford will be mass producing cars without a steering wheel, accelerator pedal or brake pedal. The company believes that the future of the market lies in producing vehicles where a driver is not even required. It has just announced a $1bn (£800m) investment in Argo AI, an artificial intelligence company which will produce the software needed for a new generation of self-driving cars. Ford’s investment over five years will see the new company develop the software needed to make self-drive cars a reality, initially in cities and then across a wider area. It expects to profit from not only having its own autonomous car on the road in 2021, but by licensing the technology to other companies, including rival manufacturers.
The Daily Telegraph
Cabbies want cash to scrap diesels
The chancellor is under mounting pressure to introduce a diesel scrappage scheme to tackle dangerous levels of pollution in big cities. Philip Hammond was urged to draft measures as part of next week’s budget to compensate motorists who switch from diesels to green alternatives, cutting toxic gases in built-up areas. A coalition of business leaders, doctors, taxi drivers and environmental groups wrote to the chancellor yesterday urging him to create cash incentives to drive diesels off the road. The government is already committed to freezing fuel duty until 2018 and will introduce extensive changes to vehicle excise duty next month, making a second large-scale reform unlikely.
House of Lords votes to protect rights of EU citizens in the UK
The House of Lords has voted by an overwhelming majority to guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in the UK after Brexit, in defiance of Theresa May. Peers backed an amendment to the government’s Article 50 Bill by a majority of 102. The amendment requires the government to guarantee unilaterally that EU citizens living in the UK will retain all the rights they currently enjoy once Britain leaves the bloc. The government had argued that Britain should wait until other EU countries offered reciprocal guarantee for UK citizens abroad.
The Financial Times
Zero hours contracts reach record levels
The number of people on controversial zero hours contracts has reached a record high of 910,000. New figures based on an analysis of Office for National Statistics data reveal that 105,000 more people were on contracts that do not guarantee work in 2016 compared with the same period in 2015. That’s an increase of nearly 14%, and 30% higher than 2014. In 2005, there were just 100,000 people on zero hours contracts (ZHCs). Although the new figures are a record, they also reveal a sharp slowing in the rate of increase in the last six months of 2016.