Government wants noisier electric cars

A government safety agency wants electric and hybrid vehicles to make more noise when traveling at low speeds so pedestrians can hear them coming. The cars and trucks, far quieter than conventional gasoline or diesel-powered vehicles, don't make enough noise at low speeds to warn walkers, bicyclists and the visually impaired, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Monday. The proposed rule would require the cars to make additional noise at speeds under 18 miles per hour. NHTSA says the cars make enough noise to be heard at higher speeds. Automakers would be able to pick the sounds that the cars make from a range of choices. Similar vehicles would have to make the same sounds.

Toyota delays big push in China

Toyota Motor Corp. pushed back plans to make China its third million-unit market until after this year as Asia's biggest carmaker waits for anti-Japan sentiment to subside and demand to return to normal. As recently as September, Toyota forecast China sales would reach 1 million in 2012, but it said Monday it expects deliveries in the country to rise about 7 percent to 900,000 vehicles in 2013 after they fell 4.9 percent last year. Sales in December dropped 16 percent to 90,800, the sixth straight monthly decline, the company said. Toyota and other Japanese automakers have increased discounts and extended guarantees to win back customers after violent demonstrations broke out in major cities across China in September over a territorial dispute between Asia's two biggest economies. Honda and Nissan also reported annual sales declines in the country.

Caviar-tax dodger catches break

A New York caviar distributor who evaded arrest for nearly a quarter century will not have to spend any more time in prison for his crime. Isidoro "Mario" Garbarino was sentenced Monday in Manhattan to time served for unlawfully importing more than 100,000 pounds of Russian and Iranian caviar in the 1980s. The 69-year-old Garbarino has been jailed since September. He was arrested by U.S. marshals after he was caught changing planes in Panama. He admitted that he used schemes to avoid high taxes while importing caviar worth more than $10 million from 1984 to 1987. Originally charged in a November 1987 indictment, he fled the country in July 1989. He has agreed to pay $3 million in restitution.

British home prices increase

British house prices rose for a second month in December and will probably remain little changed in 2013 as the uncertain economic outlook constrains property demand, according to Halifax. Values advanced 1.3 percent from the previous month to an average 163,845 pounds ($262,900), the mortgage unit of Lloyds Banking Group said Monday. The monthly price gain in November was revised to 1.6 percent from a previous estimate of 1 percent. From a year earlier, values rose 2.6 percent in December. Prices were 0.6 percent higher in the fourth quarter compared with the third, and were down 0.3 percent from a year earlier, according to Monday's report.

McDonald's spreads it wings test

McDonald's is set to expand its test of chicken wings to Chicago this week, after a successful run in Atlanta last year. The wings are expected to be sold in three, five or 10 pieces with prices likely starting at $3, according to Lynne Collier, an analyst with Sterne Agee. A spokeswoman for McDonald's confirmed the test in Chicago would start this week but said there weren't any plans yet to bring the wings to other cities. Fast-food chains typically test items in select markets before taking them national. But for McDonald's, which has 14,000 U.S. locations, adding chicken wings to the permanent lineup could be tricky. Prices for chicken wings have been climbing over the past year, reflecting an increase in the number of restaurants serving them, said David Harvey, an agriculture economist who specializes in poultry and eggs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Apple says 40 billion-plus served

Apple says people have downloaded more than 40 billion apps on for the iPhone, iPad and the iPod Touch, nearly half of them in 2012. Apple Inc. said Monday that December saw record downloads of more than 2 billion apps. There are 775,000 individual applications available in the app store. Apple says it has paid app developers more than $7 billion. Apple launched its app store in 2008. The store hit the 10 billion downloads mark in early 2011. In March 2012, Apple announced that more than 25 billion apps have been downloaded.