Future cars CORRECTED-Paris guide seeks post-lockdown jumpstart for vintage 2CV tour

Future cars

PARIS (Reuters) – There’s nothing Jean-Remi Galinon enjoys more than bouncing along cobbled streets and showing off Paris to foreign tourists, usually Americans, in his most iconic of French vintage cars.

Future cars

A Citroen 2CV car of the Paris company 2CVParisTour.com is seen parked in front of the Sacre-Coeur basilica of Montmartre in Paris, France, June 26, 2020. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

But the coronavirus has kept them away, and since mid-March he’s only given one tour in his 39-year-old cherry red Citroen 2CV boneshaker.

France is from Wednesday tentatively opening up its borders to a select group of non-EU countries, but the United States, where COVID-19 cases are still soaring, is not on the list.

“The Americans are our No. 1 tourists, for sure,” Galinon said, the very image of Gallic sangfroid as he cruised along a cafe-lined boulevard with his sunglasses on and the 2CV’s canvas roof rolled back.

“They are in love with Paris … (and) we’re suffering the consequences (of the travel ban).”

Tourism is part of the lifeblood of the city, one of the World’s most visited, so for Galinon, Paris’s springtime lockdown could hardly have been worse.

“It was just surreal,” Galinon said. “March, April, May are an important period for us. And even more so as the weather was beautiful. So it was a double punishment.. (and) Paris without tourists is not really Paris.”

Border restrictions within the EU have been removed, and the “safe list” of 14 other countries from which the bloc will allow non-essential travel is now coming into force.

But it could be a while before the U.S. visitors who Galinon’s boss Marc Vernhet is banking on are able to return.

Vernhet has relied on state aid to stay afloat during the lockdown and says another six months of slow business may force him to quit.

(This story has been corrected to rectify name in paragraphs 9 and 10 to Vernhet)

Reporting by Yiming Woo; writing by Richard Lough; editing by John Stonestreet

Read More

Future cars Paris guide seeks post-lockdown jumpstart for vintage 2CV tour

Future cars

PARIS (Reuters) – There’s nothing Jean-Remi Galinon enjoys more than bouncing along cobbled streets and showing off Paris to foreign tourists, usually Americans, in his most iconic of French vintage cars.

Future cars

A Citroen 2CV car of the Paris company 2CVParisTour.com is seen parked in front of the Sacre-Coeur basilica of Montmartre in Paris, France, June 26, 2020. Picture taken June 26, 2020. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

But the coronavirus has kept them away, and since mid-March he’s only given one tour in his 39-year-old cherry red Citroen 2CV boneshaker.

France is from Wednesday tentatively opening up its borders to a select group of non-EU countries, but the United States, where COVID-19 cases are still soaring, is not on the list.

“The Americans are our No. 1 tourists, for sure,” Galinon said, the very image of Gallic sangfroid as he cruised along a cafe-lined boulevard with his sunglasses on and the 2CV’s canvas roof rolled back.

“They are in love with Paris … (and) we’re suffering the consequences (of the travel ban).”

Tourism is part of the lifeblood of the city, one of the World’s most visited, so for Galinon, Paris’s springtime lockdown could hardly have been worse.

“It was just surreal,” Galinon said. “March, April, May are an important period for us. And even more so as the weather was beautiful. So it was a double punishment.. (and) Paris without tourists is not really Paris.”

Border restrictions within the EU have been removed, and the “safe list” of 14 other countries from which the bloc will allow non-essential travel is now coming into force.

But it could be a while before the U.S. visitors who Galinon’s boss Marc Vernhet is banking on are able to return.

Vernhet has relied on state aid to stay afloat during the lockdown and says another six months of slow business may force him to quit.

(The story corrects name in paras 9, 10 to Vernhet.)

Reporting by Yiming Woo; writing by Richard Lough; editing by John Stonestreet

Read More

Future cars Clean air and quiet streets

Future cars

LYON, France (Reuters) – The coronavirus lockdown persuaded retired speech therapist Anne-Marie Arnaud a better future could be had, one with emptier skies, fresher air and quieter streets rid of diesel-belching cars.

Future cars

FILE PHOTO: An aerial view shows the deserted Eiffel tower in Paris during a lockdown imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in France, April 1, 2020. Picture taken with a drone April 1, 2020. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol/File Photo

And so the pensioner from Lyon switched her vote in last Sunday’s municipal election, among the first worldwide to be held after countries began emerging from lockdown, in favour of the Green party.

The results, which saw the Greens take control of or become an alliance partner in no fewer than 11 city halls, may point to a broader shift in voting patterns as governments, companies, and citizens adjust to the COVID-19 era.

“I realised how clean the air was, how nice it was to walk in a city, and be awoken by birdsong rather than car horns,” Arnaud, 64, said. “I told myself there was good in this crisis and that we had to rethink our city in a different way.”

Certainly, support for the party officially known as European Ecology – The Greens (EELV) was already growing.

With no lawmakers in France’s parliament and only four staff in its Paris headquarters, the Green party performed more better than expected in last year’s European Parliament elections, polling third with 13.5% of the vote.

Over the past couple of years, they have made strides elsewhere in Europe too.

In Germany, the Greens are the second most popular political party though have sunk into the background during the pandemic, while they are junior partners in Ireland’s new coalition government, as well as in Austria.

GREEN WAVE

But the pandemic is forcing a rethink of how we live our lives: from the future of global supply chains to how we work in offices, from how we plan our cities to the food we eat,

“That played a part,” Julien Bayou, leader of the Greens in France, told Reuters of his party’s success in the elections.

In Lyon, Green candidate Gregory Doucet won 52.4% of Sunday’s vote, wrestling control from Gerard Collomb, the veteran socialist mayor of France’s third biggest city who was representing President Emmanuel Macron’s ruling party.

He did so on a campaign platform to create a 450 kilometre-long network of cycle highways, widen pavements for pedestrians, source 50% of school food locally and build more social housing.

From Bordeaux in the southwest to Strasbourg in the east, Sunday’s green wave engulfed cities large and small across France. In Paris, too, they joined forces with the socialist incumbent re-elected on a promise to cut pollution.

In Lyon, Doucet’s campaign chief Ninon Guinel said the coronavirus crisis had exposed the fragility of Western economies and the need to unwind the excesses of globalisation.

People realised the system was at breaking point,” she said.

Additional reporting by Elizabeth Pineau and Richard Lough in Paris; Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Alexandra Hudson

Read More

Future cars From food to cars, Saudis stock up ahead of VAT hike

Future cars

RIYADH/DUBAI (Reuters) – People in Saudi Arabia rushed to buy goods from imported fruit juices to cars ahead of a sharp hike in value-added tax on July 1, introduced by the oil-rich kingdom to boost state revenues amid its worst ever economic decline.

Future cars

Saudi women push the shopping cart outside a supermarket during shopping before the expected increase of VAT to 15%, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia June 29, 2020. Picture taken June 29, 2020. REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri

The tripling of VAT to 15% comes against a backdrop of lower consumer spending and an easing of inflation due to a three-month coronavirus lockdown that was fully lifted on June 21.

Supermarkets in the capital Riyadh were packed over the weekend as shoppers stockpiled non-perishable goods. Furniture and appliances stores offered discounts to lure buyers.

“Demand has been very weak but people are now actively buying ahead of the VAT so there is a bit of demand,” said Najem Alotaibe, a car dealer in Riyadh.

Jaber al-Sahari, who works in a gold shop, also reported an increase in demand in the last two weeks.

Saudi Arabia announced the VAT hike and suspension of a cost of living allowance in May, shocking citizens and businesses expecting more support from the government.

“Life is getting more expensive. I bought some imported food and juices and stored it because prices will rise,” said Sarah, a Saudi mother of two.

In recent months inflation eased to around 1% due to low demand for non-food items and reduced fuel prices, but some analysts expect it to surge by up to 6% year-on-year in July due to the VAT hike.

Authorities this month increased import tariffs to contain a ballooning fiscal deficit, which the International Monetary Fund projects at over 12% of GDP from 4.5% last year.

These steps could reduce the overall deficit by 4.5% to 6% of GDP, but may dampen economic recovery, Arqaam Capital has said.

For Abu Omar, an Egyptian expatriate, the VAT hike comes on top of a 20% salary reduction due to the coronavirus crisis.

“So now I have to live with 35% less, this will be very difficult with three kids,” he said.

Reporting by Marwa Rashad and Davide Barbuscia; Additional reporting by Mohammed Benmansour, editing by Ed Osmond

Read More

Future cars BMW to source battery cells produced using renewable energy

Future cars

Future cars

FILE PHOTO: A logo of BMW is seen outside a BMW car dealer, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Brussels, Belgium May 28, 2020. REUTERS/Yves Herman

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – German carmaker BMW (BMWG.DE) on Tuesday said its electric cars will use battery cells produced using renewable energy, a step which will compel the biggest suppliers to source more non-coal generated electricity.

“We now have a contractual agreement with our cell manufacturers that they will use only green power to produce our fifth generation battery cells,” BMW Chief Executive Oliver Zipse said on an interview published on the company’s connection.

Last year, BMW ordered more than 10 billion euros’ ($11.07 billion) worth of battery cells from Chinese battery cell maker Contemporary Amperex Technology Co (CATL) (300750.SZ) and Samsung SDI (006400.KS).

CATL is building a battery cell production plant in Erfurt, Germany, and has said it aims to produce 60 gigawatt hours (GWh) worth of cells a year from 2026 onwards.

BMW is preparing to launch the electric BMW iX3 this year, and the BMW iNEXT and BMW i4 next year.

As production volumes of electric BMW cars increase, the use of green power will save around 10 million tonnes of CO2 over the next decade, BMW said, adding that this is equivalent to the annual carbon dioxide emissions produced by a city of over a million inhabitants.

Reporting by Edward Taylor

Read More

Future cars FEATURE-Pakistan launches electric vehicle plan with cars in slow lane

Future cars

ISLAMABAD (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Ghulam Hussain was used to zipping through the streets of Lahore with his wife and three young children perched perilously on his motorbike, whenever they visited relatives or ran errands.

But now that Pakistan has launched a plan to move vehicles over to electric power, Hussain is excited about the prospect of no longer spending 4,000 rupees ($24) each month on petrol.

“It would be a substantial saving for me to switch to an electric motorbike,” said Hussain, who works as a driver for a family in the upscale Gulberg district, earning about 20,000 rupees a month.

“Eventually I’d like to buy a small car for the family, as the children are getting older. I would buy an electric car, if they are affordable.”

He will have to wait a while to find out.

After a lengthy delay, Pakistan’s ambitious electric vehicle (EV) policy was approved for implementation this month, but a late-stage change leaves cars out of its first phase.

Critics warn this means it will take longer for Pakistanis to reap the policy’s environmental and financial benefits.

Covering buses and trucks, as well as two- and three-wheel vehicles, including rickshaws and motorcycles, the new policy introduces a raft of incentives to encourage manufacturers to start producing electric vehicles and customers to buy them.

Passed on June 10, the new policy was originally approved by Prime Minister Imran Khan in November, with the goal of cutting air pollution and curbing climate change.

It aims to bring half a million electric motorcycles and rickshaws, along with more than 100,000 electric cars, buses and trucks, into the transportation system over the next five years.

The goal is to have at least 30% of all vehicles running on electricity by 2030.

After pushback from traditional automakers, the first stage of the policy bypasses cars to focus on motorbikes and rickshaws – the most common form of transport in Pakistan’s densely populated urban areas – as well as buses and trucks.

Malik Amin Aslam, climate change advisor to the prime minister, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that incentives for cars would be added to the policy “at a later stage”, without specifying when.

Leaving out cars makes the new policy “like a wedding party arriving with no bridegroom”, said Shaukat Qureshi, general secretary of the Pakistan Electric Vehicles and Parts Manufacturers and Traders Association (PEVPMTA).

“The rest of the World is adopting this technology and it is pollution-free. The sooner it comes, the better it is for everyone,” he said.

Abdul Waheed Khan, director general of the Pakistan Automotive Manufacturers Association, which represents petrol-powered carmakers, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that the policy “states the broad parameters to which we agreed”.

“We appreciate the direction and are awaiting further details,” he added.

POORER FAMILIES LEFT BEHIND

Mian Ali Hameed, marketing director at Sazgar Engineering Works Limited, a leading rickshaw manufacturer, said his company was ready to start producing electric rickshaws before the end of 2020.

Hameed confirmed that Sazgar’s e-rickshaws will be more expensive than traditional versions, costing about 400,000 rupees, compared with 250,000 rupees for a petrol-powered ride.

However, customers will soon see savings, as their petrol use drops dramatically and they spend less on maintenance like oil and filter changes, he explained.

“Customers could recover the (purchase) cost in one year, according to our estimates,” he said.

One potential obstacle to the speedy uptake of EVs is a lack of charging infrastructure. To address that, the policy makes it cheaper for authorities and companies to install charging stations in cities and along motorways.

But Qureshi of the PEVPMTA noted that owners of electric motorbikes, e-rickshaws and small electric cars do not need to wait.

“You just plug them in at home, like a fan,” he said.

Qureshi worries that leaving cars out of the policy for now will disadvantage lower-income families, estimating that switching to a small electric car could save up to 25,000 rupees a month in fuel costs.

“For many families in Pakistan, this much savings per month means a change in their lifestyles,” he said.

GOOD FOR HEALTH

Addressing concerns about the cost of electric vehicles, climate advisor Aslam said the policy includes incentives for their owners, such as removing yearly registration fees and a 50% discount on motorway tolls.

In a country where large cities routinely suffer high levels of air pollution, the benefits to Pakistan’s environmental health will also be significant, he added.

Each electric vehicle produces 65% fewer pollutants than traditional petrol-powered engines, he said.

According to the latest World Air Quality Report, Pakistani and Indian cities dominated the most polluted cities in 2019.

Much of that pollution is due to Pakistan’s rapid motorisation, environmental experts say.

A World Bank study published in 2014 noted that the number of vehicles on the country’s roads jumped from about 2 million in 1991 to more than 10 million two decades later.

The blue skies Pakistanis witnessed during the coronavirus lockdown showed “the extremely strong nexus between congested vehicle traffic and air pollution, especially in urban centres”, Aslam said.

According to Syed Muhammad Abubakar, an independent environmental researcher based in Lahore, the transport sector produces more than 40% of the air pollution in Punjab province.

There is “no time to lose” in cleaning up the air in Pakistan’s cities, especially in the midst of COVID-19, he said.

Pointing to a recent study by researchers at Harvard University, Abubakar noted that even a small increase in long-term exposure to air pollution particles can lead to an 8% jump in the rate of deaths caused by the respiratory illness.

“Pakistan must learn and take drastic measures to limit the increase in air pollution. Otherwise, the lives of many will be at risk,” he said.

($1 = 167.2000 Pakistani rupees)

Reporting by Rina Saeed Khan; editing by Jumana Farouky and Megan Rowling. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters. Visit news.trust.org/climate

Read More

Future cars From food to cars, Saudis stock up ahead of VAT hike

Future cars

RIYADH/DUBAI (Reuters) – People in Saudi Arabia rushed to buy goods from imported fruit juices to cars ahead of a sharp hike in value-added tax on July 1, introduced by the oil-rich kingdom to boost state revenues amid its worst ever economic decline.

Future cars

Saudi women push the shopping cart outside a supermarket during shopping before the expected increase of VAT to 15%, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia June 29, 2020. Picture taken June 29, 2020. REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri

The tripling of VAT to 15% comes against a backdrop of lower consumer spending and an easing of inflation due to a three-month coronavirus lockdown that was fully lifted on June 21.

Supermarkets in the capital Riyadh were packed over the weekend as shoppers stockpiled non-perishable goods. Furniture and appliances stores offered discounts to lure buyers.

“Demand has been very weak but people are now actively buying ahead of the VAT so there is a bit of demand,” said Najem Alotaibe, a car dealer in Riyadh.

Jaber al-Sahari, who works in a gold shop, also reported an increase in demand in the last two weeks.

Saudi Arabia announced the VAT hike and suspension of a cost of living allowance in May, shocking citizens and businesses expecting more support from the government.

“Life is getting more expensive. I bought some imported food and juices and stored it because prices will rise,” said Sarah, a Saudi mother of two.

In recent months inflation eased to around 1% due to low demand for non-food items and reduced fuel prices, but some analysts expect it to surge by up to 6% year-on-year in July due to the VAT hike.

Authorities this month increased import tariffs to contain a ballooning fiscal deficit, which the International Monetary Fund projects at over 12% of GDP from 4.5% last year.

These steps could reduce the overall deficit by 4.5% to 6% of GDP, but may dampen economic recovery, Arqaam Capital has said.

For Abu Omar, an Egyptian expatriate, the VAT hike comes on top of a 20% salary reduction due to the coronavirus crisis.

“So now I have to live with 35% less, this will be very difficult with three kids,” he said.

Reporting by Marwa Rashad and Davide Barbuscia; Additional reporting by Mohammed Benmansour, editing by Ed Osmond

Read More

Future cars From food to cars, Saudis stock up ahead of VAT hike

Future cars

RIYADH/DUBAI (Reuters) – People in Saudi Arabia rushed to buy goods from imported fruit juices to cars ahead of a sharp hike in value-added tax on July 1, introduced by the oil-rich kingdom to boost state revenues amid its worst ever economic decline.

Future cars

Saudi women buy jewellery at a shop in the gold market before the expected increase of VAT to 15%, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia June 29, 2020. REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri

The tripling of VAT to 15% comes against a backdrop of lower consumer spending and an easing of inflation due to a three-month coronavirus lockdown that was fully lifted on June 21.

Supermarkets in the capital Riyadh were packed over the weekend as shoppers stockpiled non-perishable goods. Furniture and appliances stores offered discounts to lure buyers.

“Demand has been very weak but people are now actively buying ahead of the VAT so there is a bit of demand,” said Najem Alotaibe, a car dealer in Riyadh.

Jaber al-Sahari, who works in a gold shop, also reported an increase in demand in the last two weeks.

Saudi Arabia announced the VAT hike and suspension of a cost of living allowance in May, shocking citizens and businesses expecting more support from the government.

“Life is getting more expensive. I bought some imported food and juices and stored it because prices will rise,” said Sarah, a Saudi mother of two.

In recent months inflation eased to around 1% due to low demand for non-food items and reduced fuel prices, but some analysts expect it to surge by up to 6% year-on-year in July due to the VAT hike.

Authorities this month increased import tariffs to contain a ballooning fiscal deficit, which the International Monetary Fund projects at over 12% of GDP from 4.5% last year.

These steps could reduce the overall deficit by 4.5% to 6% of GDP, but may dampen economic recovery, Arqaam Capital has said.

For Abu Omar, an Egyptian expatriate, the VAT hike comes on top of a 20% salary reduction due to the coronavirus crisis.

“So now I have to live with 35% less, this will be very difficult with three kids,” he said.

Reporting by Marwa Rashad and Davide Barbuscia; Additional reporting by Mohammed Benmansour, editing by Ed Osmond

Read More

Future cars Motor racing: Mercedes to use black cars in stand against racism

Future cars

(Reuters) – Formula One champions Mercedes unveiled black-liveried cars for the 2020 season on Monday as part of a public pledge to further improve diversity within the team and the World of motorsport.

Mercedes have traditionally raced in silver throughout their time in Formula One but will switch to black and have ‘End Racism’ emblazoned on the halo of both cars.

The team said the Black Lives Matter movement has “shone a searching light on how much we need new measures and actions in the fight against racism and all forms of discrimination”.

The new livery will make its debut when Britain’s World champion Lewis Hamilton and Finnish team mate Valtteri Bottas feature in the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday.

“Racism and discrimination have no place in our society, our sport or our team: this is a core belief at Mercedes,” Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said in a statement here

“But having the right beliefs and the right mindset isn’t enough if we remain silent.

“We wish to use our voice and our global platform to speak up for respect and equality, and the Silver Arrow will race in black for the entire 2020 season to show our commitment to greater diversity within our team and our sport.”

Future cars

Slideshow (3 Images)

Mercedes said only 3% of their workforce identified as belonging to minority ethnic groups, while just 12% are women.

The team plans to launch a diversity and inclusion programme before the end of the season as they look to improve those numbers and encourage more people from under-represented backgrounds into Formula One.

Six-times Formula One champion Hamilton said: “It’s so important that we seize this moment and use it to educate ourselves whether you are an individual, brand or company to make real meaningful changes when it comes to ensuring equality and inclusivity.”

Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris

Read More

Future cars House Democrats lay out new roadmap for cutting U.S. greenhouse gas emissions

Future cars

Future cars

FILE PHOTO: People hold a banner during a protest march to call for action against climate change, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Vienna, Austria, June 26, 2020. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – House Democrats on Tuesday will unveil a plan to cut nearly 90% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, including mandating sales of zero-emission cars by 2035 and decarbonizing the power grid by 2040.

The policy recommendations are intended as a blueprint for lawmakers to fight climate change should Democrats win control of Congress in the November election. But they do not go nearly as far as the Green New Deal resolution previously floated by the party’s progressive wing that called for a 10-year transition to a 100% clean energy economy.

The plan proposes expanding the $7,500 electric vehicle tax credit after both Tesla Inc and General Motors Co vehicles’ credits expired. It calls for raising the 200,000 vehicle individual manufacturer cap and new incentives to help consumers buy used electric vehicles.

Republicans have labeled plans like the Green New Deal “socialist” and President Donald Trump, who is seeking re-election, has made rolling back environmental regulations to support the drilling and mining industries a centerpiece of his economic agenda.

The 500-page plan drafted by the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis would support clean energy businesses, ban drilling on public lands, protect minority communities from climate impacts and bolster the climate resilience of farmlands, according to a summary seen by Reuters.

Together, the recommendations would put the United States on track to slash net greenhouse gas emissions 88% below 2010 levels by 2050, according to Energy Innovation, a nonpartisan climate policy research group that modeled the plan with committee staff.

The policy recommendations “satisfy the scientific and moral imperatives to reduce carbon pollution and as quickly and aggressively as possible make communities more resilient to the impacts of climate change,” according to the summary.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will join committee chair Rep. Kathy Castor and Democratic panel members to unveil the blueprint Tuesday.

Environment America, a coalition of state environmental advocacy groups, praised the plan. It was not immediately clear if lawmakers and other green groups will support it.

Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; additional reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Dan Grebler

Read More