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British new car registrations rose by nearly 3 percent last month, an industry body said on Monday, putting the sector on course for record sales in 2016, although demand from retail customers fell for the eighth month in a row. Strong demand from businesses for fleet vehicles compensated for the fall in individual buyers, lifting overall sales by 2.9 percent to 184,101 vehicles in November, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. It is the first time the industry has sold more than 2.5 million vehicles in the first eleven months of the year, putting it on track to beat the 2.63 million sold last year, despite uncertainty created by Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.
“The overall growth in what is usually a quiet month is extremely positive and annual figures are still projected to reach over 2.67 million of units,” said Sue Robinson, the Director of the National Franchised Dealers Association.
Car seats are recalled over crash fears for children
A safety recall has been issued for children’s car seats because there is a risk the plastic shell could crack and fail in a crash. The Mamas & Papas seats affected are the Nembus, Aureus, Group 123 and the Altair. The recall saw one worried parent launch a £20million claim for damages on the basis her son had been driven around in an apparently unsafe seat for 20 months. Mamas & Papas said there have been no incidents of children being hurt as a result of using the car seats at the centre of the recall.
The European Union (EU) has started legal action against seven nations, including the UK and Germany, for failing to take action against Volkswagen for cheating emission tests.
The German car giant has had huge fines in the US over its use of “defeat devices” used to hide true levels of emissions. More than one million cars in the UK are involved. Member states have two months to respond.
Industry commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska said in a statement: “National authorities across the EU must ensure that car manufacturers actually comply with the law.” Under EU law, member nations are responsible for overseeing whether cars meet standards or not.
Apple admits plans for self-driving cars
Apple has acknowledged for the first time that it is investing in self-driving car tech. In a letter to US transport regulators, Apple said it was “excited about the potential of automated systems in many areas, including transportation”. It added that there were “significant societal benefits of automated vehicles” to be realised. There have long been rumours about the firm’s plans but it had not publicly addressed them. Ford, which itself plans to have self-driving cars on the road by 2021, has said it was working on the basis that Apple was building one.
Bank of England governor cautions that ‘lost decade’ of low wage growth could harm society.
The country’s dominant service sector has experienced its best month since January, the survey of businesses showed, defying fears of a slump in growth after the Brexit vote. Experts believe that Britain’s “resiliently robust” economy is on course to grow at 0.5 per cent in the final quarter, a period for which official data is not yet available. This beats forecasts by the Bank of England and puts Britain ahead of the rest of the G7 — the US, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Canada.
Job vacancies increase as staff shortages lift pay
The jobs market has “ended the year on a high”, with employment and wages strengthening despite fears of a post Brexit slowdown, according to a key survey. Companies increased their permanent staff headcount in November at the fastest pace since February and starting salaries rose to a six-month high, according to a monthly report from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation and Markit. The labour market has shown little sign of a slump since the Brexit vote. Employment is at a record high and unemployment at an 11-year low at 4.8 per cent. However, the official data has pointed to a slowing in recruitment in recent months.
Motorway speed limit raised to reduce jams around roadworks
Rules banning motorists from travelling faster than 50mph near motorway roadworks could be scrapped under plans to cut congestion. Average speed cameras, which are used to police speeds around roadworks, will be recalibrated as part of a trial scheme to increase traffic flows on some of the busiest motorways. A speed limit of 60mph has been sanctioned for the first time past a four-mile stretch of works on the M1 near Sheffield. It is likely to be applied across the country next year. The Department for Transport has also ordered Highways England to increase the number of lanes that remain open during roadworks, and to limit them to no more than 10 miles at any one site.
Volkswagen will launch electric shuttle services in European cities from next year in an attempt to become a leader in on-demand transport services. The carmaker unveiled in London the MOIA brand, which will sit alongside other marques within the group such as Audi, Porsche and Skoda. With a budget in the hundreds of millions of euros, the brand will launch pilot schemes in two German cities next year with plans to expand across Europe and, in time, to the US, China and the rest of the world. If successful, the business expects to generate revenues of €2bn by the end of the decade and create a new segment of transportation
BMW eyes higher fleet sales as it brushes aside tech threat
BMW has mounted a strident defence of its prospects in the face of “dangerous” new rivals offering self-driving, shared and electric cars, as Apple confirmed plans to develop autonomous driver technology. BMW posted its best ever earnings this year, selling cars at a record rate across its BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce brands. But its shares are down a fifth, partly on concerns that traditional carmakers will have to increase investments to compete with technology groups that are changing how people travel.
Speaking at BMW’s prototype construction facility in Munich, Tony Douglas, head of strategy, marketing and communications for mobility services, acknowledged that companies such as Apple, Google, Uber and Lyft had proved they were “very dangerous players” in the car market. But groups such as BMW that combine both hardware and software would be the future of the industry, he said.