• Plug In Carolina, a nonprofit group coordinating state efforts to build an electric vehicle infrastructure, announced that its EV charging network will charge its first car during a ceremony at the South Carolina Statehouse at 10 a.m. on Dec. 8.

    This year, Plug In Carolina secured $480,000 of funding to deploy a statewide infrastructure for plug-in electric vehicles. Over 80 charging stations are being deployed in Columbia, Spartanburg, Greenville, Rock Hill, Union, Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, Blythewood and Charleston. 

    In addition, the following two days will include charging-station openings in Blythewood, Rock Hill, Union, Spartanburg and Greenville.

    [via Automotive Fleet]

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  • While predicting sluggish growth for the overall economy until the middle of next year, “trucking can do very well under these conditions,” said Bob Costello, chief economist for the American Trucking Association (ATA).

    Costello said at the ATA’s annual convention that even better times are still to come, and added that this time next year “[the industry will] be on the cusp of some of the best years in trucking.”

    Costello and his fellow economists predict that the recovery will remain “sluggish” until late 2011. However, he said that U.S. manufacturing will outpace the general economy due to an increase in US exports.

    Scott Krugman of the Retail Association shared Costello’s sentiment, forecasting that the general economy “will be firing on all cylinders by the third of fourth quarter of next year, and 2012 an 2013 will be very good years.”

    Even as the industry emerges from recession, it still faces “some of the most significant changing timers confronting trucking since deregulation,” ATA president & CEO Gov. Bill Graves told his members during the meeting’s opening session.  CSA, hours of service, electronic logging, infrastructure investment, alternative power, driver pay and growing freight demand were among the list of issues “we’re expected to manage our way through,” he said.

    [via FleetOwner]

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  • Staples will advance its commercial delivery fleet by introducing 41 new all electric, class six trucks in California, Missouri, and Ohio this November. Thirty will operate in California, 10 in Ohio, and one in Missouri.

    The new all-electric delivery trucks are part of an ongoing fuel efficiency initiative to achieve a 40-percent improvement in fleet fuel economy by 2015. Having achieved a 30-percent improvement in fuel efficiency to-date, Staples is now working toward completing its goal.

    The Newton all-electric trucks, manufactured by Smith Electric Vehicles, will join Staples' existing delivery fleet of nearly 2,000 vehicles in North America. The trucks operate at a top speed of 55 mph and offer ranges from 50 to 120 miles on a single charge.

    "The addition of these all-electric delivery trucks is the latest example of our commitment to continually improve our delivery fleet and its impact on the environment," said Mike Payette, manager of fleet equipment at Staples. "Over time, we'll look to increase the number of these trucks in the Staples fleet as an effective way to service our delivery customers while reducing our carbon emissions.

    [via Fleet Financials]

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  • The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is finishing planning on a long-term strategy aimed to completely overhaul the “safety culture” of drivers in the U.S. starting next year.  The plan – titled “Toward Zero Deaths: A National Strategy on Highway Safety” suggests re-engineering vehicles, improving roadway design, changing enforcement policies, and informing driver attitudes to make what Jim Toole, FHWA Associate administrator, calls “significant” reductions in highway fatalities and injuries.

    Though annual highway fatalities in the U.S. declined to a record low of 33,963 in 2009, Toole reminds drivers that  “the fact that we are ‘only’ killing just over 33,000 a year is not cause for celebration.”

    FHWA’s “zero death” focus will be on strategic changes that go beyond the “day-in and day-out” policies usually implemented and look at the root of traffic safety problems.

    One example would be far wider use of roundabouts to manage traffic at roadway intersections, rather than traffic lights. “It’s very hard to get killed in a roundabout, vs. the ‘T-bone’ style crash we see in standard U.S. intersections today,” Toole said. Another is more integrated planning of roadway design and construction between national, state, and local agencies.

    Toole said the “culture” aspect of FHWA’s plan is critical because people make decisions in contexts that are strongly influenced by their social environment. FHWA noted in a briefing paper on its new strategy that traffic crashes are not the result of isolated factors such as an icy road; rather, it is the combination of factors such as a driver deciding to speed on an icy road.

     “We also believe, by taking this broad approach to change the traffic ‘safety culture’ in the U.S., we can halve the annual number of projected fatalities by 2020,” Toole added.

    Road safety is very important for fleets.  Make sure that your drivers know the rules of the road and keep them accountable for their behavior!

    [via FleetOwner]

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  • With the new 2011 F-150, Ford is launching the most fuel-efficient full-size pickup of any manufacturer. The new 3.7-liter V6 model will deliver best-in-class 23 mpg highway, pending EPA certification. The 5.0-liter V8 model is projected to 21 mpg highway, also pending EPA certification.

    "The all-new engine lineup for the 2011 Ford F-150 is focused on delivering what matters most to truck customers - best-in-class power, capability, durability and fuel economy," said Barb Samardzich, Vice President of Powertrain Engineering. "Each engine offers an unequaled combination of these attributes."

    The improved efficiency of each engine is complemented by additional improvements to the transmission and other areas of the new F-150.

    The 6R80 six-speed automatic transmission has been upgraded to include SelectShift capability with progressive range select and manual mode, and the F-150’s transmission has been optimized for the new engines.

    Another fuel saver is the addition of electric power-assisted steering (EPAS) to the 3.7-liter V6, 5.0-liter V8 and 3.5-liter EcoBoost powertrains. The EPAS system replaces a conventional hydraulic system, which runs continuously off the engine, with a system that draws power only when needed. EPAS contributes about a 4 percent fuel-economy benefit compared with conventional hydraulic systems.

    Details on each new F-150 engine can be found here.

    [via Business Fleet]

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  • For those looking to see the next wave of auto trend and technology, keep your eyes out later this month. The 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show will feature 20 world debut vehicles and more than 30 North American debuts.

    Of the 20 world debuts, several have been already announced, including Nissan's redesigned Quest minivan, the Murano Cross Cabriolet crossover convertible concept, and a sedan concept called the Ellure. Land Rover will show its new 4-door Range Rover Evoque and SAAB will showcase the 9-4X crossover. KIA will unveil its first hybrid, the Optima sedan; Volkswagen will unveil its new Eos; and Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep plan to reveal a handful of products highlighted by the new Chrysler 200 sedan and convertible.

    The show will also feature more than 30 North American debuts, including the completely redesigned Hyundai Elantra. Audi, BMW, Porsche, Lotus, and Fiat will also unveil new models at the show.

    This year's show also features a new generation of electric vehicles. Chevrolet's range-extended electric Volt and Nissan's battery-electric Leaf will make appearances at the show, preparing for their rollout in Los Angeles as one of the first markets to receive the vehicles by the end of 2010. Many other electric and hybrid vehicles will be showcased as part of a large group of environmentally friendly vehicles.

    The 2010 LA Auto Show will be held Nov. 17 and 18 for the press and Nov. 19-28 for the public.

    [via Automotive Fleet]

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  • Here’s another fleet Safety Tip of the Week from the folks over at Automotive Fleet… this week is all about staying safe around your vehicle’s air bag:

    An air bag needs about 10 inches of space to inflate. Ride at least 10 inches (measured from the center of the steering wheel to your breastbone) from the air bag cover, if you can do this while maintaining full control of the vehicle. If you cannot safely sit 10 inches away from the air bag, contact your vehicle dealer or manufacturer for advice about additional ways of moving back from your air bag. 

    Passengers should also sit at least 10 inches away from the passenger-side air bag. 

    Sitting too close to the air bag in your vehicle could result in serious injury if the bag deploys in a collision.  The forces generated by air bag deployment are strong enough to cause trauma when impacting the body.

    Photo courtesy of Adam Bartlett and re-used under the Creative Commons license.

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  • Cadillac, an established innovator in safety technologies, is now pursuing still-evolving technologies that include in-vehicle Doppler radar to spot obstructions or traffic jams ahead. 

    Future efforts will also include autonomous vehicles that can communicate with each other, traffic signals and buildings. 

    "We see things moving toward a point in the future where perhaps vehicles won't crash," said Capp. "We work on developing advanced safety technologies for Cadillac that alert drivers to potential dangers around them."

    Capp and his team of engineers, inventors and futurists have developed life-saving active safety technologies that are already in place on the 2010 Cadillac STS Platinum, including:

    -Lane departure warning -- a camera-based lane detection system that warns drivers when they leave their lane without signaling. The camera, mounted near the inside rearview mirror, identifies traffic lane markings and provides audible alerts

    -Blind spot alert -- twin radar beacons that detect an object in a vehicle's blind zone and provide a visual warning in the outside side mirror

    -Adaptive cruise control -- sensors detect objects in a vehicle's path and slow the vehicle down to avoid a collision.

    Would you be interested in using this technology in your fleet?  Leave a comment and let us know.

    [via Automotive Fleet]

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  • Ford Motor Co. has announced the fleet incentives for its entire 2011 MY line, introducing the new Commercial Fleet Advantage and Fleet Equalization Programs.

    The Commercial Fleet Advantage program provides a tiered system that gives larger incentives to fleets based on how many vehicles they purchase.  The program is arranged into three levels: 1,4 vehicles, 5-14 vehicles, and 15 or more vehicles. 

    The Fleet Equalization Program offers the same cash and bonus cash offerings that are available to retail customers.  These incentives are also tiered based on the number of units purchased.

    Ford will also offer the 2011 MY E-Series Van Commercial Account Program, which is returning after its introduction in 2010.  This program allows fleet customers to order on of the vehicle’s Racks and Bins  packages for no additional charge.

    For a complete list of Ford’s 2011 Fleet Incentives, click here.

    (Tags: Fleet Incentives, Ford, Fleet Financing, Vehicle Remarketing)

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  • If you’re looking to acquire new vehicles for your fleet, consider purchasing a used vehicle from a larger fleet.  It is a good way to get tried-and-true performance at a reasonable price, and it seems that more and more fleets are getting the message:

    The number of used commercial vehicles (GVW Class 3-8) registered in the U.S. during the first two quarters of 2010 set a new record at 354,400, according to Polk's latest Commercial Vehicle Market Intelligence Report.

    The total sets a new record for used commercial vehicle registrations in a six-month timeframe and represents nearly 68 percent of the commercial vehicle market. Additionally, this figure represents an increase of 28.8 percent over the same timeframe in 2009, reported Polk.

    "The significant increase in used vehicle registrations so far this year is indicative of an uptick in the industry with the changeover of the commercial fleet," said Gary Meteer, director, sales and client services, at Polk. "Large fleet owners and operators are upgrading to new vehicles, and therefore the smaller fleet companies and independent owner operators have great opportunities to find available clean used equipment."

    The Polk report also includes other commercial market highlights, including new commercial vehicle registration information, geographical registrations, and insight into aftermarket component demand.

    [via Automotive Fleet]

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