• The Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicts that gas prices will reach an average of $2.81 per gallon in 2010 and will climb to nearly $3 per gallon next summer.

     

    “Higher crude oil prices throughout the forecast period” will contribute to the increase, say EIA officials. The average price of gas in 2009 is expected to be $2.36 per gallon.

     

    “Projected annual average diesel fuel retail prices are $2.48 and $2.94 per gallon, respectively, in 2009 and 2010,” according to the EIA.

    With an increase in fuel prices on the horizon, it is important to make sure your fleet is running at maximum fuel efficiency.  Here are a few simple tips to make sure you are getting your money’s worth at the pump:

     

     

    • Keep your engine properly tuned.  Regular maintenance will save you a bundle in the long run.
    • Keep all vehicles’ tires inflated to the manufacturer-recommended pressure.
    • Use the correct grades of motor oil and gasoline to ensure optimal performance for each vehicle.
    • Drive sensibly and observe posted speed limits.

     

     

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  • We’ve spent a lot of time talking about the benefits of electric and hybrid vehicles for fleet operations. But when the time comes to adopt new technologies, will people really be ready to make the switch?

     

     Automotive Fleet provides some interesting insight:

     

    Carlos Ghosn, head of the Nissan-Renault alliance, says that consumers’ adoption of electric vehicles will be a gradual process, with traditional gasoline-powered cars dominating the market for many years to come.

     

    Ghosn predicted that electric vehicles would most likely account for only about 10 percent of vehicles sold by 2020. Gasoline, diesel, hybrid engines and other technologies will power the rest. “We’re not going to take the market by storm,” said Ghosn. “Electricity is going to complement oil.”

     

    According to an Associated Press report, Ghosn made the remarks during a November 19thpanel discussion sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

     

    Ghosn acknowledged that Toyota Motor Co. has already taken an early lead in the hybrid market. While this may be true, he believes that Nissan Motor Co. can become a leader in the all-electric vehicle market within a reasonable amount of time. Next year, Nissan is releasing the Leafelectric car in on a limited scale and plans to put the all-electric vehicle into mass-production in 2012.

     

    Ghosn said demand from rising economies like China and India will help spur demand for electric cars.

     

    Photo courtesy of karyodimejo2010 under the Creative Commons License.


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  •  Via Automotive Fleet:


    Fleet Financials magazine is now accepting nominations for the 2010 Fleet Executive of the Year Award.

    The Fleet Executive of the Year Award was created in recognition of exceptional leadership by senior executives who have made significant contributions to fleet vehicle management. Fleet managers are encouraged to nominate their senior executive responsible for the company’s fleet budget and policies.

     

    A panel of five industry judges will evaluate criteria submissions including cost-saving initiatives, policy setting, creation of innovative programs and cultivation of fleet manager training and management.

     

    Nominations are due no later than Friday, Jan. 29.

     

    To make a nomination, click here

     

    Past winners include 2009 winner Satish Natarajan, ARAMARK and 2008 winner Pete Silva, PepsiCo.



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  • CleanFUEL USA has announced the debut of its latest liquid propane injection (LPI) system, now for the General Motors 6.0 liter engine.  The new system will first be available in Q1 2010, with the company already taking orders in response to a growing demand for greener fleet vehicles.  This move comes just as the Department of Energy starts to award stimulus funds this December.

     

    Under the 2009 American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, propane-related projects were one of the largest beneficiaries of government alternative fuel grants, receiving $33.5 million. CleanFUEL USA was awarded $12.9 million from the DOE to establish 186 state-of-the-art propane refueling stations in major cities across the U.S. The first station will be located in Houston.

     

    “Alternative-fuel vehicle projects provisioned by the DOE are helping to propel the propane industry into a new phase, while CleanFUEL USA’s new engine system provides a clean, high-performance option to make greener fleets a reality,” said Brian Feehan, vice president of the Propane Education & Research Council.

     

    The new system is an OEM replacement for new gasoline engines and is designed to convert light-duty fleets such as passenger vans, shuttle buses, walk-in vans, and utility and service vehicles to operate on propane. CleanFUEL USA’s advanced LPI technology provides the same horsepower, torque and performance as gasoline-powered engines, yet produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions.  The system will be available through CleanFUEL USA Master Dealers and Preferred Installers.

     

    “We’ve seen an increased interest in propane-powered vehicles as many of our customers look for greener and more cost-effective fleet transportation options,” said Chris Weiss, vice president of engineering at Knapheide Manufacturing. “The CleanFUEL USA 6.0L LPI system is an alternative-fuel solution to address these growing demands, and its innovative design is specially optimized for increased engine efficiency that can double engine life and significantly reduce maintenance costs for our customers.”

     

    Photo courtesy of tim.perdue under the Creative Commons License.


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  • According to the Flint Journal. the Genesee County Road Commission has begun an initiative to brand every tire it buys for its vehicle fleet with a serial number in an effort to prevent tire thefts.

     

    The branding effort is part of a strategy  officials say is being made to prevent future thefts of tires and other equipment, the Journal reported. Last week, Road Commission Chairman David Miller and Vice Chairman James Pomeroy told the county Board of Commissioners about seven policy changes to deal with ongoing theft problems, including the serial number branding plan, but have yet to discuss the scope of internal thefts at the road agency or how the thefts occurred.

     

    In late October, the Road Commission suspended one employee without pay and turned an internal investigation of tire thefts over to the Michigan State Police.

     

    In addition to branding each tire with a permanent serial number in the future, the Road Commission said other steps are being taken, at an estimated cost of $50,000, to protect tires and equipment stored in its Flint garage, including the installation of a computer coded gate at the garage and additional security cameras, and the assignment of a single supervisor to oversee tire security and to supervise maintenance workers during tire replacement operations.

     

    An MSP official said that the tire theft investigation at the Road Commission is continuing.

     

    Is your fleet protected against theft?

     

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  • In the growing world of fleet telematics, location-based technologies are becoming more important than ever.  Now FedEx is joining the new electronic fleet era with a new tracking system for its customers.

     

    To more precisely track individual shipments in transit, FedEx Corp. is rolling out a new service next year dubbed SenseAware, which will combine a GPS sensor device and a web-based collaboration platform in one package.  The new service will become available in the spring of 2010.

     

    A small sensor placed inside of each package works as a multi-modal tracking and tracing solution that spans multiple transportation connections, providing customers with a real-time view of the location of their package and insight into the entire shipping process.

     

    FedEx said it has received permission from the Federal Aviation Administration for SenseAware to be used during flight on FedEx aircraft and will allow FedEx customers to monitor in-transit conditions during the ground transportation leg of such shipments as well, such as precise temperature readings; a shipment’s exact location; when and if  a shipment is opened or if the contents have been exposed to light; plus real-time alerts regarding the above vital signs of a shipment.

     

    “One of the basic needs we saw was a sensor-based logistics industry that wasn’t solidifying as quickly as we thought it should around useful sharing of sensor information,” said Robert Carter, FedEx executive VP & CIO. “We developed a point-of-view that sharing sensor information dynamically and in useful ways with supply chain partners proved too difficult, so we attacked this on a number of fronts and the result is SenseAware.”

     

    Is your fleet making the most of telematics?

     

     

    Photo courtesy of Drewski2112 underthe Creative Commons License.

     


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  • According to the U.S. Internal Revenue Code (IRC), Section 179, a taxpayer may elect to treat the cost of any qualifying property as an expense, rather than a depreciable capital asset. Using this tax code provision, business owners may be able to deduct the full purchase cost of a qualifying work truck (GVWR = 14,000 lb. or more), up to the $250,000 limit applicable to tax years 2008 and 2009. The deduction must be taken in the year the vehicle is placed in service. For tax year 2010, the maximum deduction is scheduled to revert to the 2007-level of $125,000.

     

    Time is short, but the potential benefit is large. Those considering the purchase of a new commercial truck should certainly consider the tax implications of buying this year versus postponing the purchase until next year or later.

     

    IRC Section 179 contains a number of limitations and provisions that may affect the extent to which any business can deduct any specific purchase. Consequently, business owners should consult their own tax advisers and accountants regarding their individual situation and the applicability of IRC 179 to it.

     

    Now may be the time to replenish your fleet!

     

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  • Toyota is still working on a solution to the issue of floor mats causing its accelerators to stick, causing that pesky “unintended acceleration” that can really put a damper on anyone’s drive.  The automaker has been working closely with the National Highway Traffic Safety Association to come up with a permanent solution for the growing problem.  Toyota recently published a statement saying that it would “take a closer look at the potential for an accelerator pedal to get stuck in the full open position due to an unsecured or incompatible driver’s floor mat.”

     

    Inside Line and Kyodo News are reporting that Toyota may be close to announcing that they will replace the gas pedals of the four million vehicles affected by the recall with shorter ones.

     

    The fix would be provided by Toyota dealerships at no charge to the customer.  Swapping out four million accelerator pedals could prove to be a pricey solution, but Toyota claims it has saved up to $5.6 billion dollars in its recall funds over the years for just such an occasion.

     

    Have you or your drivers noticed acceleration problems with any Toyotas in your fleet?

     

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  • A while ago, we took a look at new contenders to the retiring Crown Victoria’s throne as the country’s number one police cruiser.  Now it looks like Ford is not ready to step down just yet.  The Ford Motor Company has announced that it will produce a completely new purpose-built Police Interceptor specially engineered to replace the Crown Vic in 2011.

     

    Ford’s new interceptor is being developed in conjunction with the company’s Police Advisory Board, which has spent the last14 months providing input on the attributes necessary to a quality law enforcement vehicle, such as safety, performance, durability, driver convenience, and comfort.  The new Police Interceptor will be offered to law enforcement agencies as soon as the Crown Victoria goes out of production in late 2011.

     

    The new vehicle is designed to provide municipalities with reduced ownership costs through improved quality, durability, and fuel efficiency.

    “Ford’s commitment to the law enforcement community produced the Crown Victoria, the benchmark police vehicle,” said Lt. Brian Moran, fleet manager, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and a member of Ford’s Police Advisory Board. “This commitment has continued, and Ford has been working closely with the Police Advisory Board on developing the new Police Interceptor. I am confident that the next-generation Ford police vehicle will meet the future needs of the law enforcement community and will set the new standard.”

     

    Ford plans to reveal the new model and provide full vehicle specifications in the first quarter of 2010 – in time for law enforcement agencies, police equipment manufacturers, and upfitters to develop a transition plan from the Crown Victoria to the new product.

     

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  • General Motors is reporting that better-than-expected results from the third quarter of 2009 will allow it to begin repaying government loans sooner than originally planned.

     

    Although GM posted a $1.2 billion loss since emerging from bankruptcy, sales have increased enough to make paying for the automaker’s debt more immediately feasible. GM received $6.7 billion in loans from the U.S. Treasury as part of its bankruptcy proceedings, along with help from Canada and Ontario. But this is only a fraction of the $50 billion in help GM received from U.S. taxpayers since the end of 2008.

     

    GM announced on Monday that the company anticipates paying $1 billion to the U.S. Treasury in December, along with an additional $192 million to the Canadian and Ontario governments.  The U.S. government now owns a majority stake in GM, but taxpayers are unlikely to see a return on the investment.

     

    GM president and chief executive officer Fritz Henderson told reporters Monday morning that the third quarter results represented “some signs of progress, some signs of stability,” but that ultimately they were “not satisfactory.”

     

    By comparison, Ford and Toyota both reported unexpected quarterly profits during the same period.

     

    Henderson claims that GM intends to fully pay its debt to the United States government as early as June 2010. He said, however, that the timing of such an offering would depend on the state of the stock market as well the company and industry’s performance.

     

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