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U.K. Labor Market Shows Strength as Jobless Claims Decline

The U.K. labor market showed signs of continued resilience after the country’s referendum on European Union membership, according to the first official numbers since the vote.

Jobless claims unexpectedly fell 8,600 in July after increasing 900 in June, the Office for National Statistics in London said on Wednesday. In the second quarter, employment rose by 172,000 to a record 31.8 million people.

Vacancies Decline

The potential weak spot in the latest data was job vacancies, which continued their downward trend this year. Openings at companies fell 7,000 in the three months through July to 741,000, the lowest since October 2015.

The Financial Times

Employers more downbeat on hiring

UK employers’ attitudes to hiring have become more pessimistic, according to a survey that gives one of the clearest indications to date on the effect on the Brexit vote on the labour market.

The CIPD association of human resources professionals, which conducted interviews both before and after the June 23 referendum, found a “significant change for the worse” in the share of employers expanding their workforces compared with those reducing staffing. The difference between these groups — the net score — fell especially sharply in the private sector, from +39 before the Brexit vote to +25 afterwards.

UK Reuters

Brexit could be delayed to late-2019 as government not ready

Britain’s exit from the European Union could be delayed until at least late 2019 because the government was too “chaotic” to start the two-year process early next year, the Sunday Times reported, citing sources it said were briefed by ministers.

Britain voted to leave the EU on June 23, but views differ over when it should invoke “Article 50”, which sets the clock ticking on a two-year deadline to leave the bloc, with some senior politicians calling for a quick departure.

Prime Minister Theresa May, who campaigned for Britain to remain in the EU and leads a cabinet of ministers from either side of the debate, has said she will not trigger Brexit talks this year as Britain needs time to prepare. But British government ministers have warned senior figures in the City of London, London’s financial district, that Article 50 was unlikely to be triggered early in 2017 because the situation in government was “chaotic”.

VW gets approval for another 460,000 diesel-car fixes

Volkswagen has won German regulatory approval for technical fixes on another 460,000 diesel cars with illicit emissions control software, it said on Sunday, raising the number of vehicles cleared for repair to over 5 million.

Approval by Germany’s motor vehicle authority KBA is valid for countries throughout Europe where 8.5 million diesel cars are affected by Volkswagen’s emissions test-rigging scandal. About 11 million units are implicated globally. In the United States, where VW’s manipulations came to light eleven months ago, the German group still lacks technical fixes and is in the process of testing hardware and software that could help it avoid having to buy back about 475,000 affected cars. 

The Guardian

Electric cars could drive the future – but not without old-fashioned vehicles

New report finds ‘that the energy of 87% of vehicle-days could be met by an existing, affordable electric vehicle’ – but that is not quite good enough

Electric cars could take over most driving necessities tomorrow, according to a group of scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but they will need the help of internal combustion engines to do it.

The problem that remains to be solved, said Jessika Trancik, one of the report’s authors, is that 87% isn’t quite good enough. “That number is very high, but to get people to actually buy cars, people need to know that it will meet their needs on all days,” she said. “Nobody wants to be waiting by the side of the road.”

The group’s proposed solution to that problem is twofold. Trancik said her team was working on developing the data they compiled into an app that could predict when a driver will need a petroleum-burning car to get from point A to point B and home again over the course of a day.  Secondly, a local company or a neighbour might provide easy access to a conventional car.

BBC News

Could ethanol power the future for electric cars?

The automotive industry is rushing to produce electric vehicles (EVs) as the world tries to move away from polluting hydrocarbons to greener, cleaner fuels.

But EVs still only account for 1% of the total market. Some companies are betting that hydrogen fuel cells will be the power source of the future, but Nissan believes bio-ethanol produced from sugar cane or corn could also produce zero-emission electric energy.

Nissan has recently unveiled its prototype solid-oxide fuel cell vehicle in Brazil, where ethanol is readily available in all gas stations – in marked contrast to hydrogen pumps. But Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn says the success of the concept will largely depend on political support.

Audi cars ‘will talk to traffic lights’, firm says

Audi is introducing technology that will allow its cars to communicate with traffic lights, the manufacturer has announced. It will tell drivers when lights are due to turn green and when they will not make it before a light turns red.

The firm said it was meant to make driving less stressful, rather than as a safety aid, it was reported. It will require a significant investment to make it viable in the UK, one expert said.

Ford’s self-driving car ‘coming in 2021’

Ford has said it will mass-produce a fully autonomous self-driving car without a steering wheel by 2021.

The bold ambition was outlined by the company’s president, Mark Fields, at an event in Palo Alto, California. Ford said it would double its investment in its research centre in the city, as well as making sizable investments in technology companies in the autonomy industry.

It said this was most likely as part of an Uber-like ride-sharing service – but one that doesn’t require a human driver.

“As you can imagine, the experience inside a vehicle where you don’t have to take control changes everything”, said Mr Fields.

Posted by Sue Robinson on 19/08/2016