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FT

The Financial Times

UK factories boosted by domestic demand

Britain’s factories enjoyed a brighter than expected start to the year, with solid domestic demand keeping large companies busy.  The Markit/CIPS survey of purchasing managers hit a three-month high in January of 52.9, up slightly from 52.1 in December. A reading over 50 indicates activity is increasing.

GM posts record profit on US car sales boom

Booming US car sales helped power General Motors to a record year of earnings. The US’s biggest carmaker by sales ended 2015 with a strong fourth quarter. Sales for the three months to December came in at $39.5bn, ahead of market expectations of $39.3bn while net income surged to $6.3bn from the $1.1bn recorded in the prior year period. The results – fuelled by decade-high U.S. demand for trucks and SUVs – brought GM’s full year revenue to $152.4bn and net income to a record $9.7bn, or $5.91 per diluted share.

Ford plans European job cuts to try to maintain profits revival

Ford plans to cut hundreds of jobs in Europe as it seeks to sustain momentum in the fiercely competitive market and build on its first annual profit in the region for five years. The US carmaker on Wednesday launched a turnround plan to save $200m a year at its European business, which racked up almost $4.5bn in pre-tax losses between 2011 and 2014. Last year the company eked out a $259m full-year pre-tax profit in the region, part of global pre-tax income of $10.8bn.

Car industry faces EU parliament verdict on emissions test rules

Europe’s powerful car industry lobby is set for its first big test in the European Parliament of whether its influence has dimmed in the wake of the Volkswagen emissions scandal. The EU assembly will vote on Wednesday on a new system for testing whether cars breach limits on dangerous nitrogen oxides (NOx), the emissions at the heart of the scandal, in which the German carmaker admitted manipulating emissions test data on its diesel vehicles in the US and Europe.

While many in the auto industry, as well as the European Commission and national governments, are urging MEPs to support the plan, key legislators have warned that the blueprint has been so watered down and is so generous to carmakers that its provisions are in practice illegal.

Ferrari shares tumble after cautious outlook for 2016

Shares in Ferrari tumbled more than 10 per cent on Tuesday after the Italian supercar maker issued conservative guidance for its first year as an independent company. Alongside maiden annual results since separating from parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in January, Ferrari said it expected earnings before interest, tax depreciation and amortisation to come in at more than €770m this year — only €22m more than 2015.

The Times

Luxury cars worst for breakdowns

Luxury cars such as Bentley, Jaguar, Porsche and Ferrari are among the least reliable on the road, a report has found. Price or brand image appears to have little bearing on how often cars break down, with many cheaper models less prone to failure.

Researchers found that Bentleys were more likely to break down than any other brand in the study, with average repairs costing £1,356.

Watch out, that car in front may be driverless

Driverless cars could be tested on motorways for the first time as part of a government trial to be announced today.

More than 40 miles of dual carriageways and motorways will be fitted with sensors to track autonomous vehicles and ensure that they interact safely with other cars. The move is part of a £20 million investment to put Britain at the forefront of research into driverless and “connected” vehicles.

British engineering proves a crossover hit as SUV sales soar

Call them what you will — SUV, upright estate, 4×4, off-roaders, soft-roaders, Chelsea Tractor at the top end, faux-by-four at the bottom — the crossover, the creation of British designers and engineers and typified in the mass market by the Nissan Qashqai, has overtaken the hatchback as Europe’s favourite vehicle. The crossover, or sports utility vehicle, was created as an urban motor in Europe with the Range Rover and its more recent bestselling Range Rover Sport and Evoque.

 

British engineering proves a crossover hit as SUV sales soar

Call them what you will — SUV, upright estate, 4×4, off-roaders, soft-roaders, Chelsea Tractor at the top end, faux-by-four at the bottom — the crossover, the creation of British designers and engineers and typified in the mass market by the Nissan Qashqai, has overtaken the hatchback as Europe’s favourite vehicle. The crossover, or sports utility vehicle, was created as an urban motor in Europe with the Range Rover and its more recent bestselling Range Rover Sport and Evoque.

Bikes to overtake cars

Bicycles are expected to outnumber cars in the London rush hour within five years. Transport for London figures showed that the number of bicycles entering central London increased from 12,000 to 36,000 in the 14 years to 2014 while car use fell by more than 50% to 65,000.

BBC.co.uk

UK driverless car projects get government green light

More than 40 miles of roads in Coventry will be equipped with technologies to aid autonomous vehicles, the government has announced. It is one of eight projects aiming to develop driverless-car technologies that will receive a share of £20m, from the government’s £100m Intelligent Mobility Fund. Another will focus on driverless shuttles for the visually impaired. Autonomous vehicles are already being tested, including in Milton Keynes.

Porsche boss rejects driverless cars

Porsche has no plans to develop driverless cars, unlike most other carmakers who are embracing the autonomous driving revolution, its chief executive has said. Oliver Blume told German newspaper Westfalen-Blatt that people wanted “to drive a Porsche by oneself”. He added that Porsche did not need to team up with any tech firms. Analysts Boston Consulting Group predict that by 2025, 13% of cars will have autonomous features. Porsche does, however, intend to launch electric vehicles, and a plug-in hybrid of the 911 model with a range of 50 km (31 miles) will hit the market as early as 2018, Mr Blume said.

The Daily Telegraph

Volkswagen faces Tuesday U.S. deadline for SUV emission repair plan

Volkswagen AG faces a Feb. 2 deadline to submit a repair plan for 80,000 diesel SUVs and larger cars that emit excess pollution, even as it considers buying back some vehicles and a prior fix plan for smaller vehicles was rejected.

The second largest automaker still hasn’t announced any timetable for winning approval from U.S. and California regulators to address excess emissions in 575,000 2.0 and 3.0 litre U.S. vehicles. In September, VW first acknowledged installing software that allowed diesel vehicles to emit up to 40 times legally allowable pollution. Last week, VW won approval to start fixing 8.5 million vehicles in Europe. VW says excess diesel emissions impact up to 11 million vehicles worldwide.

Volkswagen emissions scandal: VW sales continue to slide on fallout from the test rigging

Sales of Volkswagen cars continued to slide in January as the fallout from the emissions rigging scandal deepened.

Volkswagen passenger car sales fell 8.8 per cent in Germany in January, while in the US sales slumped 15 per cent compared on last year. Overall car sales in Germany, Europe’s largest car market, were up 3.3 per cent from a year earlier.

Isle of Man could become self-driving car testbed by summer

Manx government pushing through legislation to allow island to become a prime location for the testing of self-driving cars. The Isle of Man is best-known in automotive circles for its lack of speed limits and famous TT motorbike race, but soon it could have a new claim to fame as it looks to become a premier site for car manufacturers and technology giants to develop self-driving cars. The island’s government is reportedly setting up a focus group with the aim of evaluating the technology’s suitability to the island, and to work out whether laws need to be changed in order to accommodate self-driving car research.

The Mirror

Interest rate hike ‘risks plunging 5million into problem debt’ by 2020

If the Bank of England raises interest rates to just to 1.75% by 2020, millions of us could be in trouble, a report has warned. The number of households with problem debts is predicted to soar by 700,000 by 2020. A report out today warns a big rise in those taking on debt, together with interest rates hikes, will lead to increasing problems for those with serious money worries. An estimated four million households were at least three months behind with debt payments in the second half of last year, despite rock bottom rates slashing borrowing costs.

Bank of England urged to hike base interest rates

It’s now seven years since the Bank, with the country in the grip of a financial crisis, slashed its base rates to a record low 0.5%Interest rates should rise now, a former Bank of England policymaker has declared. Economist Marian Bell warned delaying an increase risked sharper hikes in the future. The Bank’s monetary policy committee (MPC) meets today, but is expected to keep rates on hold amid concern about a weakening economy, falling oil prices and slowing wage growth. Bell, an MPC member between 2002 and 2005, said she would “probably” vote for a rise now.

The Sun

Recycle a banger

A free scheme to help motorists struggling to get rid of their old cars has been launched. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has teamed up with recycling firm Autogreen to take them away. UK makers already offer the service free of charge, but there are around 700,000 orphan vehicles built by firms no longer operating here.

The Guardian

Has the Bank of England governor been caught bluffing on interest rates?

It will probably be “no change” at the Bank of England this week, with policymakers expected to keep interest rates at their historic low again. The monetary policy committee meets on Thursday and in all probability will sit on its hands for the 83rd straight month. Most likely the MPC will keep the base rate at 0.5% for the rest of the year

Posted by Sue Robinson on 05/02/2016