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BBC news logoUK car sales at record high in 2016

The number of new cars sold in the UK hit an all-time high in 2016. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), said 2.69 million cars were registered last year, 2% higher than in 2015. The industry body said 2016’s growth was due to “very strong” consumer confidence, low-interest finance deals and the launch of several new models. However, the SMMT says this year is unlikely to set another record, with sales expected to fall by 5-6%.

The Financial Times
UK consumers happy to go on borrowing to spend

ftConsumer borrowing increased by its fastest rate for more than a decade in December, according to new statistics from the Bank of England. Consumer credit rose by £1.9bn during the month and has grown by 10.8% in total during the past 12 months. The Bank also published data on mortgage approvals, which reached their highest level for eight months in November.

About 67,500 mortgages were approved, up from close to 67,300 during the previous month. This was much higher than during the summer, when changes to the tax treatment of buy-to-let properties slowed the housing market. The statistics indicate that the UK economy starts 2017 in a strong position at least partly because consumers have not stopped spending after Britain voted in June to exit the EU.

VW faces fresh legal action in Germany over diesel scandal

Volkswagen was facing legal action in Germany on Tuesday in a new attempt to make the carmaker repurchase millions of vehicles that used software to cheat diesel emissions tests. Auto analysts see the case brought by Myright, an internet-based consumer rights group, as unlikely to succeed. Should the action prove successful, it could cost the carmaker untold billions of euros in damages while altering the way consumer lawsuits are brought in Europe. VW has set aside €18.2bn for the emissions scandal, after admitting in September 2015 to equipping 11m cars worldwide with software to cheat tests.

Rise of electric cars accelerates race for lithium assets

A scramble for lithium assets is emerging after an Australian-listed miner sold a deposit in west Africa to a Chinese buyer for almost 2,000 times what it paid less than a year ago. The purchase is a further indication of the desire of Chinese companies to buy lithium deposits as the world’s largest electric car market expands its production of lithium-ion batteries, the dominant battery technology in pure electric vehicles.

Almost 70% of new lithium-ion battery cell production capacity is being built in China, according to London-based Benchmark Mineral Intelligence. The sale comes as prices for lithium continue to rise on the back of investor interest and strong demand for the battery material from electric cars and buses. The auto sector is expected to consume 24% of total lithium output by 2020 from around 7% in 2015, according to Goldman Sachs.

Business urges guarantee for EU employees

Lobby organisations say staff hired after June poll should be allowed to stay.

British business groups have urged the government to provide reassurances that European staff hired since the Brexit referendum will not be ejected when the UK leaves the EU. British business groups have urged the government to provide reassurances that European staff hired since the Brexit referendum will not be ejected when the UK leaves the EU. But ministers in the Department for Exiting the EU (Dexeu) have not yet decided the cut-off date for this protection.

The Times

TheTimesBritain has world’s top economy

Britain ended last year as the strongest of the world’s advanced economies with growth accelerating in the six months after the Brexit vote. Business activity hit a 17-month high last month, meaning that the economy grew by 2.2% last year — more than the six other leading nations, including the US, Germany and Japan. Far from slowing after the referendum in June, as predicted by the Treasury and Bank of England, growth appeared to have improved. GDP grew at 0.3% and 0.6% in the first two quarters of last year, compared with 0.6% and an estimated 0.5% in the final period.

Employers face jail over minimum wage

Employers who deny workers the minimum wage could face two years in jail under plans to accelerate a crackdown on unscrupulous companies and gangmasters. The government will appoint a “labour market enforcement director” today to clamp down on the exploitation of casual workers. The new role will be taken up by Sir David Metcalf, an industrial relations professor at the London School of Economics and, until recently, a key adviser to Downing Street on migration.

Sir David said: “While the UK is, by and large, a fair and safe place to work, there are still rogue employers who exploit their workers and undercut honest businesses. As the government has made clear, this will not go unpunished.”

guardian logoThe Guardian  

Theresa May plans major speech to defuse Brexit criticism

Theresa May will make a major speech on Brexit in an attempt to quell criticism that the government is not yet clear on its negotiating objectives for exiting the EU, as former diplomats hit out at the intense levels of criticism that ministers and civil servants have had to operate under. The foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, and the Brexit secretary, David Davis, are contributing to the speech, expected later in January.

It is expected to address Britain’s access to the European single market and a new immigration system for EU citizens. May will restate that control of borders will be a red line for the government, inevitably making economic access a lower priority.

daily mail logoThe Daily Mail

Could you charge electric cars simply by driving into a parking space? Ford trials a revolutionary wireless system

One of the annoying drawbacks of electric vehicles is having to plug them in for long periods to recharge their batteries. Now Ford has announced it has invented a method that allows electric cars to recharge without wires.

The technology has previously been available for gadgets such as phones and smartwatches, but not for cars. The new technology, unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas suggests that electric car drivers in Europe will soon be able to park-and-charge without plugging in. The company said the system has been designed to prevent drivers from forgetting to recharge.

Posted by Sue Robinson on 06/01/2017