Ford Motor is recalling 1.1m pick-up trucks because their fuel tanks can fall off and cause a fire, as the straps holding on the tank are prone to corrosion in certain conditions.

Renault is weighing a plan to launch vehicle production at a third site in Russia in partnership with its Japanese ally Nissan and its local affiliate Avtovaz, according to the Russian carmaker

EDF yesterday announced separate agreements with Renault and PSA Peugeot Citro

France is to slap an annual green tax on high-emission cars, such as sports utility vehicles, and extend punitive taxes to more environmentally damaging products in an attempt to revolutionise consumer behaviour and combat climate change.

UK registrations of 4x4 vehicles tumbled by more than 18 per cent last month in a powerful sign that Europeans are joining the headlong scramble out of large gas-guzzlers seen in the US. The data from Europe's second largest car market mirrors collapses in largevehicle sales under way in other European countries, and comes as petrol prices touch new highs and consumers delay big purchases.

As the credit crunch intensifies, carmakers are turning to an unusual way of moving vehicles off dealership lots: offering to throw in the petrol. In the UK, Fiat offers a payment-free period of nine months plus

China's emerging carmakers are often the butt of jokes in industry circles abroad, where they have a reputation for building shoddy cars with knocked-off designs and eccentric model names such as Cool Bear, Tiggo or Dingle. But the derision is dying down as Chinese carmakers begin to produce better-looking and higher-quality cars in a drive to capture local market share and enter foreign markets.

Rick Wagoner, General Motors' president and chief executive, has dismissed United Nations research that links biofuel production to rising food prices as "shockingly misinformed". The blunt assessment by the head of the world's largest car company reinvigorates intense debate about ostensible social costs and environmental benefits of biofuels, a burgeoning industry some analysts say crowds out food production. "If you look at what's causing higher [bio]fuel prices, the cost of corn is a very small part of that," Mr Wagoner said at the Auto China show in Beijing yesterday.

China's carmakers are embracing next-generation cleaner-car technology, motivated more by profit and pragmatism than any special love for the planet. Rising manufacturers like Chery Automobile and Geely are developing or launching hybrid, electric and other alternative-energy vehicles, betting that China can follow its successes in mobile phones and digital technology by becoming a leader in greener cars.

New car registrations fell nearly 10 per cent in Europe in March in a troubling sign for both the industry and broader consumer confidence on the continent. In an indication that more European consumers are deferring big-ticket purchases in the credit crunch, mass-market manufacturers all reported lower sales for the month. Most - including Volkswagen, Peugeot, Fiat, General Motors and Ford Motor - reported lower sales for the quarter.