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FTThe Financial Times

Driverless cars must steer through moral issues – The growing moral dilemmas that carmakers are starting to take into consideration, such as whether autonomous vehicles could use algorithms to replicate the “ethical” decisions human drivers make before an accident.

VW’s profit margins stuck in slow lane as challenges loom – Volkswagen has warned of little or no improvement in group profitability in 2015 and said it was aiming for a group operating margin of 5.5 per cent to 6.5 per cent this year, compared with 6.3 per cent in 2014. The carmaker also highlighted “major challenges” in the year ahead, led by tough conditions in Russia and Brazil.

Aston Martin targets wider appeal – Aston Martin is set to unveil its biggest overhaul, as it seeks to widen its sports cars’ appeal beyond traditional buyers. The carmaker’s chief executive, Andy Palmer, is expected to reveal plans to rebuild its suite of sports cars, while adding two new product lines. The strategy will include luxurious cars aimed partly at wealthy buyers with a chauffeur, probably under its Lagonda brand that is being revived in the UK, and a radical move to attract young buyers and women.

Toyota vows to remain profitable in Russia – Toyota has pledged to remain profitable in Russia this year, despite a forecast 28 per cent drop in its market. Toyota last year increased sales in Russia by 6.2 per cent to 181,000 vehicles.

The Times

Vauxhall unveils new Viva – At the Geneva Motor Show, Vauxhall has unveiled what is to become the smallest and cheapest model in its range. Unlike the Viva of old, which was a family car, the new Viva is a small, £7,995 run around aimed at first time buyers or downsizing older couples. The car was created by a British-led design team, but will be built in South Korea.

The Saturday Times

15 and counting …car sales motor on (PDF Attached) – Nearly 2.5 million cars hit the roads of Britain last year, the best sales figure for a decade and the fourth highest on record. Sue Robinson, director of the National Franchised Dealers Association which represents the retail market, says, “January saw strong growth in the UK fleet market, with an increase of 18.1 per cent, indicating a strengthening in business confidence, enabling businesses to invest in the purchase of new vehicles.”

The Daily Telegraph

BMW’s growth story hits a Brics wall – An official survey conducted by the Department for Transport which revealed that about half a million motorists a day are using mobile phones illegally while driving, an increase of almost 50 per cent since 2008. The survey found that young people aged between 17 and 29 are four times more likely to use their mobile phone while driving, as the “addiction” to social networking websites seems to be the reason for the rise of offenders.

Drivers can appeal against speeding fines on the internet – motorists accused of minor offences such as speeding will be able to register a formal plea online via a secure website, under a new governmental scheme. The government’s “Make A Plea” programme, which has been tested in Greater Manchester, will allow motorists to register their response to an allegation of a summary motoring offence 24 hours a day via their computer, tablet or smartphone from the end of next month

The Guardian

Government is accused of idling on new car technology – A major parliamentary report on a six-month investigation by the Transport Select Committee expected to be published on Friday. The report will warn that Britain risks missing out on the benefits of a £900 billion global “smart car” revolution, due to the lack of a strategic plan by the government to exploit new technologies, including “black box” engine technology and intelligent motorways. MPs are also expected to call for greater use of telematics technology, which involved data from car performance such as fuel economy, speed and movement information being transmitted digitally to manufacturers and insurers.

The Daily Mail

Ban drivers caught on their mobile – Gloucestershire chief constable Suzette Davenport has called for drivers caught using their phones at the wheel to be banned from the roads. She believes that an increase in offending shows that current punishments are not enough of a deterrent, with an estimated 500,000 people a day believed to be breaking the law.

Bespoke Rolls-Royce with £1m price tag – Rolls-Royce is set to launch its most opulent limousine ever at this week’s Geneva Motor Show. The Phantom II Serenity has a price tag of more than £1m, and draws inspiration from the royal carriages of the early 1900s. The marque said the Serenity provides ‘a completely new level of individualised luxury’ based on the Rolls-Royce phantom and influenced by the maxim of co-founder Sir Henry Royce: ‘when it does not exist, design it.’ Each car is lined with ten-yard panels of hand-painted silk, and the exterior mother of pearl paint is the most expensive ever developed by the company.

Posted by Sue Robinson on 06/03/2015