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FTFinancial Times

Kia blames Russia problems for 54% decline in profits – Kia Motors said its Q4 2014 figures were due to the declining Russian economy, including the 46% fall in the rouble, which offset a 4.1% rise in global sales by volume.

Japan’s pioneers lose ground in auto-drive race – Even as electronics start to dominate carmaking, Japanese executives in the sector scoff at the idea that their industry could go the way of personal computers and smartphones. But the race to autonomous driving has sparked fears of commoditisation in the car industry. Fresh participants such as Google are entering the world of cars as software increases in importance and disrupts traditional manufacturing methods.

US buyout group Bain Capital adds British car parts supplier TI Automotive to portfolio – US buyout group Bain Capital has acquired another piece of Britain’s industrial heritage, sealing a deal for car parts maker TI Automotive at the third attempt. TI- founded as Tube investments in Birmingham in 1919 – supplies almost all the leading carmakers, from Audi to Volvo, with components including turbochargers, fuel tanks and heating systems.

Fiat Chrysler’s European unit sees first profit in eight years – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles yesterday struck a bulish tone on Europe after the Italian-American carmaker recorded a quarterly operating profit in the region for the first time since the financial crisis. “We have now no regions which are bleeding,” said Sergio Marchionne, chief executive, as he expressed confidence that FCA would stay in the black in Europe in 2015, achieving full-year profitability in that arm 12 months ahead of schedule.

China’s WeChatters suffer status anxiety as BMW ads target select few – Target ads may be the bane of social network users the world over but in China it seems they are an object of desire. Users of WeChat, the hit Chinese chat app, this week protested again “discrimination” after they were not targeted by an advertisement for BMW, the luxury carmaker. “I’ve been refreshing over and over again but still no BMW ad…today my spirits are in the dumps,” said one WeChatter. “Do I not even qualify to see the BMW ads?”

The Times

Rates might rise sooner than expected, warns MPC member – A Bank of England policymaker has warned that interest rates may rise form their record low of 0.5 per cent earlier than many people expect. Kristin Forbes, who joined the Bank’s monetary policy committee last year, said that she saw a “higher probability” of scenarios in which inflation falls further in the next few quarters before picking up more strongly than forecast. This, in turn, would require rates to rise more quickly.

Cheats hiring lookalikes to pass their driving test – a record number of people are being caught out taking driving tests for other people Figures from the DVLA show that there have been nearly 700 reported cases of learner drivers using impersonators to take tests. The final figures for 2014-15 are expected to reach a record high, with criminal gangs now said to be charging up to £1,800 for lookalikes to sit theory and practical exams for learner drivers.

Labour admits tax blunder on deadly diesel – Channel 4’s Dispatches programme will tonight broadcast an admission from Labour’s environment spokesman Barry Gardiner that Labour blundered in allowing a boom in diesel cars to take place. Mr Gardiner said ministers had been trying to cut CO2 emissions when in 2001 they introduced new tax rates that effectively penalised petrol-engined cars. This led to a nationwide switch to diesel which was accompanied by a massive increase in deadly pollutants, such as nitrogen dioxide and particulates, seen as responsible for 50,000 – 60,000 deaths a year.

Fury at jammed roads will drive down car ownership – The number of people owning their own car is likely to drop over the next 50 years of growing anger over the state of Britain’s traffic-clogged roads, research suggests. A rising number of adults – principally in the inner cities – will shun car ownership in favour of club-style rental deals and greater us of taxis, the Independent Transport Commission suggest. The think-tank adds that the number of miles driven by each car may fall dramatically as people seek alternative modes of transport.

Banks on the hook over rip-off interest rate caps – Thousands of small businesses will be told that they may have been mis-sold interest rate caps by their lenders potentially putting the country’s largest banks on the hook for at least £1billion in new compensation payouts. The surprise move by the City watch-dog could come as early today. The Financial Conduct Authority is expected to say that between 5,500 and 6,000 businesses will be allowed to join its redress scheme for swap mis-selling, having been overcharged tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds on ceilings to protect them against interest rate rises.

The Saturday Times

Raising motorway limit to 80mph is back on course – Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said speed limits may be raised to 80mph on some of the country’s busiest motorways, in order to improve traffic flow. The transport secretary has also expressed concern over apparent over-zealous policing of the current 70 mph limit, with some forces issuing fines for minor breaches and other forces giving motorists more leeway. McLouglin called for police to be more transparent on how speeding was policed. This came as he praised safety standards on a new generation of smart motorways operated by the Highways Agency, which employ variable speed limits and which allow use of the hard shoulder as an extra lane at peak times.

The Daily Telegraph

Self-driving car not foolproof – Researchers believe driverless cars may never be entirely safe. Amid a wave of development of autonomous cars, a new White Paper from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute suggests they might not be able to avoid all accidents. Many of the accidents computers may be unable to prevent are those caused by humans – either as pedestrians or drivers of traditional cards still using the roads.

Manufacturers must prepare for the obesity epidemic – The statement from Sheryl Connelly, ‘resident futurologist’ at Ford, that cars of the future may have to be redesigned to accommodate the obesity epidemic. She warned that, as people become larger and heavier, their response time to situations on the road could slow. This could lead to driving becoming more dangerous unless manufacturers adapt, possibly by introducing better safety features, or by speeding up the development of driverless cars.

Petrol prices will carry on falling, minister claims – Energy minister Amber Rudd has raised the prospect of petrol costing less than £1 a litre ahead of the general election as crude oil prices continue to fall. The average forecourt price currently stands at 106.8p a litre for petrol, with diesel at 114p, after price cuts at supermarkets including Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco in recent weeks.

UK enjoys best year of growth since before crisis – Britain’s recovery lost steam in the final three months of last year, but the economy still recorded its strongest annual growth since 2007, keeping it on course to overtake Germany in the global growth league. The UK economy expanded by 0.5pc in the final quarter of 2014, following growth of 0.7pc in the third quarter, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Economists had thought the economy would grow by 0.6pc in the final three months of the year.

RBS throws lifeline to car-tooling suppliers – A new funding scheme aimed clearing a roadblock in the supply chain of Britain’s booming car industry has signed up its first customers. Royal Bank of Scotland has launched a £25m lending package for companies which make “tooling” – the specialised equipment that produces auto parts which are then assembled to make cars. The unusual way tooling’s ownership is structured, combined with its high cost and lingering difficulties in securing credit, have previously made it hard for smaller companies in the supply chain to invest in the equipment.

Petrol price fall as good as 1p tax cut – Falling petrol prices have acted like a one per cent income tax cut and will save wealthy families in rural areas as much as £770 a year, analysis shows. Motorists are benefiting from large falls in the price of oil. A litre of petrol now costs £1.07 down from £1.31 in July 2014. If current prices were maintained for the rest of the year, drivers would be £5.3billioin better off, financial analyst Hargreaves Lansdown found.

The Daily Mail

Drivers claim a pothole payout every 11 minutes – Motorists make a compensation claim for pothole damage to their vehicles every 11 minutes, figures reveal. Nearly 50,000 drivers made claims against councils costing millions of pounds in the last financial year, according to a report by the RAC foundation.

Posted by Sue Robinson on 30/01/2015