The Bank of England has warned that Britain is facing a record economic slump as a result of Covid-19, but has eased up on its gloomy predictions for this year.
Andrew Bailey and the rest of the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee think the UK’s economy now looks set to shrink by 9.5 per cent this year.
While this is an improvement on the 14 per cent drop predicted in May, it would still signal the worst economic performance for 99 years.
The MPC said its central projection forecasts that GDP will continue to recover in the near-term, but is not expected to exceed its levels from the end of last year until at least the end of 2021.
As expected, interest rates have been kept on hold at 0.1 per cent, spelling more bad news for hard-pressed savers.
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Ocado says its not received court papers amid AutoStore legal battle
Ocado is being sued by a Norwegian company amid allegations the online supermarket ‘unlawfully’ breached a patent for its warehouse technology.
The food logistics and delivery tech firm is being sued in Britain and the US by Norway-based AutoStore in a legal wrangle which could trigger financial damages running into millions of pounds being forked out if the claim is proven.
In a statement, Ocado said it had not received any court documentation in respect of the matter, adding that ‘this is the first we have heard of this new claim.’
Legal action: Ocado is being sued in Britain and the US by Norway-based AutoStore
The legal saga emerged as Ocado overtook Tesco as the country’s most valuable grocery retailer on the UK stock market for the first time this week.
Ocado, which was once described by ex-Tesco boss Terry Leahy as a ‘charity’ case owing to its hefty losses, was worth around £21.7billion against Tesco’s £21.1billion valuation at the close of play on Tuesday. The company’s share of the grocery market comes in at around 1.7 per cent at present.
FTSE 100-listed Ocado’s share price is down over 5 per cent or 137.99p to 2,606p this afternoon.
Karl Johan Lier, chief executive and president of AutoStore, said: ‘Since 1996, AutoStore has developed and pioneered technology that has revolutionised retail storage and order fulfilment, and is driving the growth of online retail.
‘Our ownership of the technology at the heart of Ocado’s warehousing system is clear.
‘We will not tolerate Ocado’s continued infringement of our intellectual property rights in its effort to boost its growth and attempt to transform itself into a global technology company.’
AutoStore claims Ocado must stop selling its technology and pay damages, according to court documents filed in the US and UK.
In its US legal filing, AutoStore points out that Ocado’s deal with US retailer Kruger to install its robotic smart platforms across 20 warehouses, saw Ocado bank £42.6million per site.
AutoStore confirmed it was seeking an order barring Ocado and its partner Tharsus Group from manufacturing and selling ‘infringing products and importing them’ into the US.
The filing in the High Court in London is calling on the courts to block sales of Ocado’s products from Britain as well.
Ocado told This is Money in a statement: ‘Ocado Group plc (‘Ocado’) notes the press release from Autostore today.
‘Ocado confirms it has not received any papers in relation to these claims and this is the first we have heard of this new claim.
‘We are not aware of any infringement of any valid Autostore rights and of course we will investigate any claims once we receive further details.
‘We have multiple patents protecting the use of our systems in grocery and we are investigating whether Autostore has, or intends to infringe those patents. We will always vigorously protect our intellectual property.’
AutoStore boss Lier said that his company’s warehouse system operates with storage bins stacked vertically in a grid and stored in a cubic structure, with the bins retrieved by robots that travel on the top of the structure.
Around 500 installations and 18,000 robots across 30 countries are used by firms including UK supermarket Asda, US retailer Best Buy and German airline Lufthansa.
AutoStore added: ‘Ocado’s infringement of AutoStore’s AS/RS intellectual property – including the storage system and robots – is the foundation on which the ‘Ocado Smart Platform’ (OSP) was built and on which Ocado’s business today is based.’
Several alleged infringements also include the ‘central cavity design’ of the robots, the arrangement of the lifting mechanism and their in-wheel motors.
A court in Norway has already found that AutoStore is entitled to ownership of its patents covering the robots’ central cavity technology, it added.
Ocado’s technology has been sold around the world, with Marks and Spencer and Morrisons buying up services in Britain.
Prior to selling its tech services, Ocado struggled to turn a profit due to wafer-thin margins of only a few percent on its home delivery business.
Founder Tim Steiner insisted he would continue looking for outside investors to buy the technology, with the Kruger deal marking a turning point, eventually catapulting the firm into the FTSE 100.
The unprofitable grocery division was eventually bought by M&S and turned into a 50/50 joint venture, which offered online food delivery last month for the first time.
New deal: M&S food is now on sale via Ocado after a tie-up with Waitrose ended
This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk
Tesla Autopilot ‘encourages drivers to relinquish too much control’, says NCAP
The results of the world’s first comprehensive test of different car makers’ driver assistance systems has been revealed today.
The safety tests, developed and carried out by Euro NCAP and Thatcham Research on features that allow cars to steer themselves and control their speed, saw pioneer Tesla only score a ‘moderate’ rating, as while it aced the safety element its Autopilot technology ‘encourages users to relinquish too much control’.
The tests of elements such as lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise control are the first of their kind and were designed to give a clearer indication to car buyers about the systems available, how they supplement driving and if they’re any good.
Overall, Mercedes’ assistance technology came out on top in a review of 10 vehicles from different manufacturers, with Tesla’s Model 3 the sixth best performer in the first batch of results, despite starring in certain elements of the assessment.
Autopilot criticised: A world’s first comparative test of vehicle makers’ driver assistance features found that Tesla performed well for safety but was wrongly encouraging owners to relinquish too much control to the car
These are the 10 cars that have first been subject to the new test. The Mercedes came out on top, while Peugeot and Renault scored the lowest ratings
The Tesla Model 3 scored just 36 out of 100 when assessed on its ability to maintain a driver’s focus on the road.
‘The big ‘self-driving’ sell in its marketing material, combined with the high performing assistance, encourages the driver to relinquish too much control,’ testers said about the US vehicle.
However, it gained the highest marks for performance and ability to respond to emergencies, receiving an overall score of 131 and a rating of ‘moderate’.
The new tests will be independent from Euro NCAP’s crash safety ratings, which score cars on how well they perform in a variety of shunts.
However, each model reviewed still gets a mark, which is based on three scoring categories covering how well its driver assistance systems work, how they react when a driver intervenes to take back control and how accurately the technology is marketed to customers.
Each car is then given an overall score out of 200 and a grade of Very Good, Good, Moderate, or – the lowest – Entry.
The Tesla Model 3 scored 131 out of 200 in the Assisted Driver Grading, which earned it a ‘moderate’ rating, because it encourages people to allow the car to drive
How Euro NCAP rates driver assistance systems in its new test
Cars are tested across three criteria:
• Vehicle Assistance
How effective are the speed assistance, steering assistance and adaptive cruise control systems which work together to control the vehicle’s speed and steering?
· Driver Engagement
How accurate is the carmaker’s marketing material? How effectively does the car monitor the driver to ensure they are engaged with the driving process? How easy is it for the driver to interact with the assisted system? How clearly does the car communicate assisted status?
· Safety Back-up
How well does the car protect the driver in an emergency – this could be a system failure, when the driver becomes unresponsive, or if the car is about to collide with another vehicle? What happens when there is a loss of sensor input?
Cars are given a mark out of 100 in each of these three categories.
The most important of these is the Safety Back-up score, which is added to a model’s lowest from the Vehicle Assistance or Driver Engagement categories.
These marks lead to an overall score out of 200, which earns each vehicle one of the following ratings:
· Very good (> 160 points)
· Good (> 140 points)
· Moderate (> 120 points)
· Entry (> 100 points)
The Assisted Driver Grading has been launched due to the ‘significant potential for car makers to overstate the capability of their current assisted driving technology and for motorists to misuse it,’ say safety experts.
Such a comment hints at the spate of videos – mainly from the US – showing Tesla owners sleeping or drinking at the wheel while using the Autopilot function.
‘Confusion around the limitations of these systems has resulted in serious road collisions – and deaths,’ Thatcham Research said.
The rating comes after the UK Government in August issued a call for evidence to support the use of Automated Lane Keeping Systems (ALKS) on motorways from next year.
The technology automatically keeps cars in their lane on motorways without the driver steering.
Ministers are examining whether vehicles fitted with ALKS should be allowed to use it at speeds of up to 70mph on some of the country’s busiest roads.
If given the green light, it will be the first time motorists can legally take their hands off the wheel for extended periods while the car to takes over responsibility for driving.
While this proposed technology is Level 3 autonomy (on a scale from Level 0 to full automation at Level 5 – see infographics below), the new grading is for assistance systems that are deemed Level 2.
Director of Research, Matthew Avery, said these are systems that are already allowed on our roads to assist the driver – but do not replace them.
However, he warned there is a high level of confusion among drivers about how they can and should be used.
‘Unfortunately, there are motorists that believe they can purchase a self-driving car today,’ Mr Avery explained.
‘This is a dangerous misconception that sees too much control handed to vehicles that are not ready to cope with all situations.
‘Clarity is therefore required to make sure drivers understand the capability and performance of current assisted systems.
‘It’s crucial today’s technology is adopted safely before we take the next step on the road to automation. There are safety and insurance implications that must be considered seriously.’
Currently, the highest level of vehicle autonomy being used on UK roads is Tesla’s Autopilot, which is classified as Level 2
If given the green light, Automated Lane Keep Systems (ALKS) will be the first instance of Level 3 vehicle autonomy in the UK
Experts behind the Assisted Driver Grading said it has been launched due to the ‘significant potential for car makers to overstate the capability of their current assisted driving technology and for motorists to misuse it’
How did cars and their systems rate?
The Mercedes GLE emerged as the strongest performer across all three criteria, while the BMW 3-Series was just two points behind. Both vehicles achieved a ‘very good’ grading.
The Ford Kuga’s results showed a ‘good’ grading is possible for a mid-class vehicle, thanks to its combination of Vehicle Assistance and Safety Back-up.
The entry-level Renault Clio and Peugeot 2008 offer effective systems, but lack emergency assist capability which would have boosted their grading.
‘The first batch of results show some car makers have developed robust assisted driving systems and that’s good to see. But there are also significant gaps in capability on other vehicles,’ Avery added.
The top performer in the first round of tests was the Mercedes-Benz GLE SUV. Researchers said it ‘keeps the driver engaged with plenty of clear communication regarding the assistance offered and ‘provides really useful assistance, but not so much that drivers will believe the car can drive itself’
‘For instance, the Tesla Model 3 was the best for vehicle assistance and safety back-up but lost ground for over selling what its ‘Autopilot’ system is capable of, while actively discouraging drivers from engaging when behind the wheel.
‘Tesla should however be recognised for its ability to update vehicles ‘Over the Air’.
‘Two years ago, it’s safety back-up results would not have been market leading.
‘This unique capability has seen it move the safety game on, across its whole fleet of vehicles.’
What Thatcham Research said about the first 10 cars rated
Audi Q8 – Very Good (162)
‘A high-end vehicle, with a high level of vehicle assistance and well-balanced driver engagement. The first of our ‘very good’ performers.’
BMW 3 Series – Very Good (172)
‘Gets a ‘very good’ rating, with one of the best scores in safety back-up testing. The only vehicle to feature a Driver Monitoring System, which although relatively basic, is increasingly important for driver engagement. BMW is ahead of the game in fitting this technology, which will be essential to the safe introduction of Automated Driving.’
Ford Kuga – Good (152)
‘Its vehicle assistance is not quite as strong as some of the other cars tested, but the driver engagement is good, as were the safety back-up systems, earning it a ‘good’ rating overall.’
Mercedes GLE – Very Good (174)
‘Our overall top scorer with consistently high scores across all testing categories. Keeps the driver engaged with plenty of clear communication regarding the assistance offered. Provides really useful assistance, but not so much that drivers will believe the car can drive itself.’
Nissan Juke – Moderate (124)
‘Another small SUV with quite impressive performance. The ProPilot name is not ideal, but it still has good driver engagement and safety back-up systems for the price-point.’
Peugeot 2008 – Entry (101)
‘The small SUV category is one of the fastest growing in the market, so although the system is not quite as sophisticated as those fitted to the more expensive models tested, it’s good to see that buyers at lower price points can still reap some of the safety and comfort benefits of Assisted Driving.’
Renault Clio – Entry (105)
‘Great to see an entry-level Supermini with a system that gives a generally good amount of vehicle assistance and safety back-up, if required. Although the systems available at the premium end of the market offered more assistance, the Renault Clio has a well-balanced system that successfully keeps the driver engaged.’
Tesla Model 3 – Moderate (131)
‘Many aspects of the Model 3 are exemplary; its vehicle assistance is the best we saw in testing and it also aced the safety back-up element. However, it achieves a ‘moderate’ rating for poor driver engagement, with a design philosophy that is very much about the vehicle doing the driving. That would be appropriate for an automated vehicle – but this is vehicle assistance. The big ‘self-driving’ sell in its marketing material, combined with the high performing assistance, encourages the driver to relinquish too much control.’
Volvo V60 – Moderate (120)
‘A high level of vehicle assistance and good, well-balanced driver engagement. It’s a shame, but the vehicle platform and technology have aged quickly and are no longer state of the art.’
VW Passat – Moderate (137)
‘A moderate performer, offering solid safety back-up systems and a good balance between vehicle assistance and driver engagement. Very close to a ‘good’ rating.’
This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk
Best used cars: Top SUVs, small motors and convertibles revealed
Seat’s Ateca has been named by experts as the best second-hand car you can buy this year.
The versatile SUV took the crown in the What Car? Used Car of the Year Awards, with it receiving a stamp of approval from road testers for its spacious and well-equipped interior, class-leading handling, large boot and value for money.
But a large family-size SUV isn’t for everyone. What if you’re in the market for a city car or even a sporty convertible number?
Fortunately, there’s a list of the best models in each of 18 categories – and a budget-friendly choice for those who don’t want to pay through the nose for a second-hand motor.
Second-hand star buy: What Car? says the Seat Ateca is the best used model on the market this year, offering great driving performance as well as practicality and reliability
The Ateca, which only launched to the UK market in 2016, is the outright winner this year, being highly commended by What Car? for its strong line-up of efficient engines and an excellent reliability record.
Its panel of experts made their selections based on all-round ability, reliability, value and the availability of desirable versions, then decided from a shortlist which models in each of the segments should be the winners.
Mark Pearson, used cars editor at What Car?, described the victorious Ateca as ‘an immensely likeable family SUV that can now be bought for less than half what you’d need to buy one new’.
The Ateca also won the top prize in the used family SUV of the year category.
Mr Pearson added: ‘None of the other category winners could match its combination of all-round desirability, practicality and affordability.
‘We’re delighted to award it the top gong. That it impressed us so much on its launch and it’s still doing so today just goes to show how exceptionally good it is. It’s a great used buy.’
Expert road testers endorsed the Seat SUVs range of strong and frugal petrol and diesel engines
Inside, the Seat feels modern, though does lack the high-quality interior of German rivals. While there are a lot of hard plastic materials, it does mean the cabin is durable and should stand the test of time
The Ateca was given a big thumbs up by What Car? for its practicality, including a capacious boot
While the Ateca received a glowing report form the consumer title, it isn’t for all car buyers.
Some drivers will be looking for vehicles of different sizes and budgets. And for these buyers it has suggested top performers across the market.
Luxury brand Audi topped four of the categories – more so than any other manufacturer – with the A4 winning used executive car of the year, and the A8 (luxury car), Q7 (luxury SUV) and TT (coupé) also picking up second-hand awards.
BMW, Hyundai and Skoda joined Seat in winning two categories each.
Despite the impact of Covid-19 bludgeoning the automotive sector with significantly shrunken demand for new models, appetite for used cars has remained stable – and the desire for electric and hybrid vehicles is rising.
What Car? named the current and previous-generation Nissan Leafs as the battery cars to have, while Hyundai’s Ioniq took the hybrid crown.
In addition, DS won the award for best used car scheme for the second year running for its ‘outstanding’ 24-month warranty on cars up to four years old, which eclipses rival offerings.
What Car? Used Car of the Year winners by category
Used Value Car of the Year
Winner: Hyundai i10 (2014-2019) – less than £6,000
Budget option: Suzuki Celerio (2015–2019) – less than £4,000
If you want a great city car on the used market, look no further than the Hyundai i10 (left) or Suzuki Celerio (right)
Used Small Car of the Year
Winner: Skoda Fabia (2015–present) – less than £8,000
Budget option: Ford Fiesta (2008–2017) – less than £5,000
Skoda’s Fabia (left) took the title as best used small car, with the previous-generation Ford Fiesta (right) the choice budget option
Used Family Car of the Year
Winner: Skoda Octavia (2013–2020) – less than £15,000
Budget option: Vauxhall Astra (2015–present) – less than £8,000
The Skoda Octavia (left) has been named the best second-hand family car, though the Vauxhall Astra (right) is also recommended by What Car?’s road test team
Used Executive Car of the Year
Winner (& budget option): Audi A4 (2015–present) – less than £14,000
The Audi A4 is the standout second-hand executive model, according to the car magazine
Used Luxury Car of the Year
Winner: Audi A8 (2017–present) – less than £40,000
Budget option: Volvo S90 (2016–present) – less than £20,000
Luxury cars depreciate at a rapid rate from new, meaning you can get a lot of car for your money on the used market. The best option – if you have £40k to spend – is the Audi A8 (left), or for half that you should consider the Volvo S90 (right)
Used Small SUV of the Year
Winner: Seat Arona (2018–present) – less than £12,000
Budget option: Renault Captur (2013–2019) – less than £8,000
The smallest Seat SUV in the range, the Arona (left), was deemed the best second-hand small SUV, while the recently replaced Renault Captur (right) was the best option if you want to spend less than £8,000
Used Family SUV of the Year & Overall Used Car of the Year
Winner (& budget option): Seat Ateca (2016–present) – less than £13,000
The Ateca won this segment but also took the overall Best Used Car of 2019 crown in the What Car? Awards
Used Large SUV of the Year
Winner: Volvo XC60 (2017–present) – less than £25,000
Budget option: Skoda Kodiaq (2016–present) – less than £19,000
There are plenty of models to choose from in the large SUV sector. On the second-hand market, buyers should consider the Skoda Kodiaq (left) and Volvo XC60 (right)
Used Luxury SUV of the Year
Winner: Audi Q7 (2015–present) – less than £35,000
Budget option: Volvo XC90 (2015–present) – less than £25,000
The big and pricey Audi Q7 (left) is the best luxury SUV option second hand, though the Volvo XC90 (right) is a strong option for a smaller outlay
Used MPV of the Year
Winner: Citroen Grand C4 Spacetourer (2018–present) – less than £15,000
Budget option: Citroën C4 Picasso (2014–2018) – less than £10,000
If you want a large MPV, then look no further than French brand Citroen. The current Grand C4 Spacetourer is the top choice, though the C4 Picasso it replaced is also a good choice if you have a smaller budget
Used Estate Car of the Year
Winner: BMW 5 Series Touring (2017–present) – less than £25,000
Budget option: Skoda Octavia Estate (2013–2020) – less than £10,000
If you want a capable used estate car, look no further than the BMW 5 Series Touring (left) and – on a tighter budget – the just-replaced Skoda Octavia (right)
Used Hot Hatch of the Year
Winner: BMW M140i (2016–2019) – less than £18,000
Budget option: Ford Fiesta ST (2013–2017) – less than £12,000
If you want cheap(ish) thrills, then these are the best second-hand hot hatches – the BMW M140i (left) and Ford Fiesta ST (right)
Used Coupé of the Year
Winner (& budget option): Audi TT (2015 –present) – less than £15,000
What Car? said the best used coupe option is the latest Audi TT, with examples available for less than £15,000 on the second-hand market
Used Convertible of the Year
Winner: Mercedes-Benz E-Class (2017–present) – less than £30,000
Budget option: BMW 2 Series (2014–present) – less than £15,000
If you want a second-hand car that allows you to feel the breeze in your hair, the best choices are the Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet (left) or the less expensive BMW 2 Series Convertible (right)
Used Sports Car of the Year
Winner: Porsche Cayman (2013–2016) – less than £35,000
Budget option: Mazda MX-5 (2015–present) – less than £20,000
If you’re willing to fork out a still relatively high price on the second-hand market, a Porsche Cayman (left) is the best used sports car you can purchase. If you want to spend less, the current Mazda MX-5 (right) is another option
Used Performance Car of the Year
Winner: Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio (2016–present) – less than £45,000
Budget option: Mercedes C43 AMG (2016–present) – less than £25,000
Alfa’s Giulia Quadrifoglio (left) is a seriously good performance car, though you will need to pay quite a large sum to get one, even on the used market. If you want to spend a little less, the Mercedes C43 AMG (right) is an excellent alternative
Used Hybrid Car of the Year
Winner (& budget option): Hyundai Ioniq (2017–present) – less than £15,000
Hyundai’s Ioniq hybrid is the top choice model if you want a used car with a battery and electric motor to supplement a combustion engine
Used Electric Car of the Year
Winner: Nissan Leaf (2018–present) – less than £25,000
Budget option: Nissan Leaf (2011–2018) – less than £13,000
The Nissan Leaf, both new (left) and old (right), are the top used choices if you’re in the market for a second-hand electric vehicle
Used Approved car scheme
Winner: DS Certified
Special mention: Kia Approved Used, BMW/Mini Approved Used
DS won the award for best used car scheme for the second year running for its ‘outstanding’ 24-month warranty on cars up to four years old
Source: What Car? Used Car of the Year 2021 Awards
This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk
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