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Fuel duty frozen for seventh year in row
Next year’s planned rise in fuel duty has been cancelled by Chancellor Philip Hammond – the seventh successive year that the tax has been frozen. Fuel duty has been held at 57.95p per litre since the March 2011 Budget. In his Autumn Statement, Mr Hammond also revealed plans for investment in transport, including £1.1bn for English local networks. And he pledged £390m for work on low emission vehicles and the development of connected autonomous vehicles. Fuel duty remains the biggest component of the price of diesel and petrol. Motorists also pay 20% value added tax on those fuels. It was last increased in January 2011 from 58.19p to 58.95p a litre and cut by a penny in the Budget two months later.
Government borrowing falls to £4.8bn in October
Government borrowing fell by more than expected to £4.8bn in October thanks to strong growth in tax revenues, according to official figures. The figure was £1.6bn lower than the same month last year. For the financial year to date between April and October, borrowing fell by £5.6bn to £48.6bn, the lowest for the first seven months of a tax year since 2008. The Brexit vote meant potential growth in the current Parliament would be 2.4% lower than forecast in March, according to the OBR who also admitted producing a forecast was “far from straightforward”, as it had not been given any extra information from the government about its negotiation plans.
British insurers: ‘Give us driverless car data’
Driverless car technology seems to be advancing at breakneck speed – but the changes this will mean for the rules of the road are proceeding at a slower pace. Now the insurance industry is calling on carmakers to provide more data showing who was at fault in accidents involving driverless vehicles. The insurers say drivers need to be able to prove that they’re not at fault if the technology goes wrong. The Association of British Insurers wants cars to collect a basic set of core data which would be made available after an accident. The data would cover a period 30 seconds before and 15 seconds after any incident. It would include the exact location of the vehicle, whether it was in autonomous mode or under the control of the driver, and whether the motorist was in the driver’s seat and had a seatbelt on.
UK pins post-Brexit hopes on boosting infrastructure
Infrastructure was placed at the heart of ministers’ post-Brexit economic plans with a pledge to raise the proportion of national income spent on transport, internet and energy projects to 1.2%. Philip Hammond, the chancellor, launched a number of initiatives including, by 2020/21, £2bn for research and development, £2.1bn for housing, £1.1bn for roads and £290m for telecoms. Along with another unspecified £7bn for “long-term investments” in 2021/22, this amounts to a cumulative £23bn to be spent over the next five years across various departments. In all, he wants to raise the share of gross domestic product spent on such projects from 0.8% now to 1-1.2% by 2020.
Hammond signals support for electric cars in Autumn Statement
Thousands of electric car charging points are expected to be opened across the UK after the government set aside £390m to boost battery vehicles and driverless technology. Philip Hammond announced an investment of £80m to support charging infrastructure, as well as 100% capital allowances in the first year for companies investing in charging points. Electric cars account for just 1% of new cars sold in the UK, with adoption held back by high prices and a lack of charging points.
Volkswagen brand aims to triple profit margin by 2025
Volkswagen on Tuesday unveiled an overhaul of its underperforming VW brand aimed at tripling its profit margin and eventually cracking the US market. Still reeling from the consequences of last year’s diesel emissions scandal, the VW brand is seeking to achieve a 6% return on sales by 2025, compared with just 2% in 2015. The strategy will involve the German carmaker producing 17 new sport utility vehicles by 2020 to capitalise on strong consumer demand, and phasing out models that are not popular. It will also seek to sell 1m electric cars globally by 2025.
Electric drive spooks Japan car executives
Toyota and Mazda — the two Japanese automotive groups most sceptical about electric vehicle technology — have finally revealed plans to mass-produce battery-powered cars. They are late to a game that most of the world’s carmakers — including Volkswagen, Daimler, General Motors and Jaguar Land Rover are already playing, as they confront the rise of US electric vehicle start-up Tesla. Both Toyota and Mazda stressed that they had no choice but to prepare an electric vehicle offering to meet stringent regulations on carbon dioxide emissions in both China and the US. Their decisions were passive, rather than a proactive move to capture the electric vehicle market. Neither indicated they had made any major breakthroughs in battery technology — nor did they express confidence in making money from electric vehicles.
Britain to boost internet revolution
Britain will become one of the first countries to embrace the next generation of high-speed internet under plans to be announced this week. Hundreds of millions of pounds are to be made available to make Britain a pioneer in 5G wireless technology. Experts predict that 5G internet could be up to 100 times faster than 4G connections, sending more data with higher reliability. Feature-length films could be downloaded in seconds. It would put Britain at the forefront of the “internet of things”, enabling the development of innovations such as driverless cars and smart homes in which appliances, lighting and heating are controlled remotely using the internet.
Autumn Statement: Hammond defends post-Brexit economy forecasts
Chancellor Philip Hammond has called economic forecasts in the Autumn Statement one of a “range of outcomes” after some pro-Brexit MPs criticised them for being too pessimistic. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecast more government borrowing and reductions in economic growth after the referendum. Mr Chancellor Hammond said it was good to prepare for a “rainy day”.
Domestic car demand in reverse
An 11% slump in demand for UK-made cars from British motorists has sent car factory output down for the first time in 14 months, offering the surest sign yet of a post-Brexit slowdown in the domestic automotive market. Latest car factory gate figures show domestic demand slowing for Nissans, Land Rovers and Range Rovers, Toyota, Aston Martin, Bentley and other marques built around the country, with assembly line output dropping for the home market to 29,000 in October, more than 3,500 down on the same month last year. That sent total output from British car plants down by 1% to a total of 151,000 in the month, the first reverse in UK monthly automotive production since the Summer of last year.
We’ll stop selling diesel cars in the US, says Volkswagen: Car maker announces it will focus on SUVs and electric vehicles
Volkswagen has revealed it will no longer sell diesel vehicles in the United States. The car maker suffered international embarrassment after it was found to have cheated emission tests on its diesel vehicles around the world. The company said it would now focus on electric and sports utility vehicles. The move was announced by VW brand chief Herbert Diess. Diesel vehicles had made up a quarter of the German auto giant’s US total sales – around 10-11,000 of the firm’s total sales of 43,000 vehicles this year, down from 48,000 in 2015 before ‘dieselgate’.