• The Montana Department of Transportation says the state has surpassed goals to reach an average of 30 miles per gallon in its fleet of vehicles by 2010, according to the Associated Press.

    The agency has already surpassed that goal at 31 miles per gallon, partly by adding 98 hybrid vehicles to its fleet.

    The department plans to buy another 27 new hybrids this spring, including some SUVs. The Ford Escape SUV, Toyota Prius and Honda Civic are among the models being added to the state’s fleets.

    Factoring the 27 new hybrids into the mix, the department hopes to increase its fleet-wide average of 31.6 miles per gallon to 34.2 miles per gallon, said department director Jim Lynch. That mileage will continue to increase when the older cars still in the fleet begin to be replaced.

    In addition to the benefit of saving the state money on fuel, hybrids’ resale value is often higher, although the vehicles do cost more on the initial investment.

     

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  • Courtesy of Work Truck:

    Coca-Cola Bottling Company is expanding its fleet of hybrid-electric delivery trucks across Canada as part of its ongoing commitment to Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability (CRS). The company is adding 15 hybrid single-axle tractors to its existing hybrid fleet of 20 side-bay trucks and 2 straight trucks in Canada. Of these 15, five have been deployed in Montreal.

    The largest hybrid vehicles in North America, these trucks use about 30-percent less fuel and produce about 30-percent fewer emissions than standard tractors. These first-of-their-kind vehicles are servicing markets in Vancouver, London, Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal.

    Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) has deployed a total of 327 hybrid delivery vehicles across North America. These vehicles were manufactured in Sainte-Therese, QC. The investment in hybrid technology is a critical component of CCE’s commitment to reduce its overall carbon footprint by 15 percent by the year 2020.

    “We are proud to expand Canada’s largest fleet of heavy-duty hybrid diesel-electric delivery vehicles,” said Alain Robichaud, Vice President, Supply Chain Customer Service. “This is one of several ways we are investing to reduce energy consumption across our business.”

    The technology in these hybrid vehicles will also support Coca-Cola’s sustainability efforts around the Olympic Torch Relay.

    What is your fleet doing to help the environment?

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  • Via Business Fleet:

    The new transmission for Ford Motor Co.’s 2011 Super Duty pickup will be a significant improvement over the current five-speed automatic in the areas of performance and fuel economy, a Ford engineer said.

    Dick Boerema, Ford engineering manager, said during a Web conference that the vehicle will be a “clean sheet” because it’s not an evolution of the current product. He added that the vehicle will be significantly improved over the current version.

    Set to go on sale next spring, the vehicle is also notable in that it will be Ford’s first in-house designed diesel V-8 truck engine.

    The truck will have a new body and a new six-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy for the truck will be “very competitive,” Boerema added.

    Although fuel economy estimates are not required on the window sticker because heavy-duty pickup trucks are in a different weight class and do not have to conform to passenger-car standards, Ford will announce more details on the fuel economy of the truck as it gets closer to launch.

    Ford’s new transmission uses a one-piece case that saves 25 pounds compared with the GM Allison transmission used in heavy-duty versions of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra. The GM Allison transmission uses a three-piece case.

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  • When Toyota first issued its safety recall regarding the risk of sudden acceleration in certain models, the automaker suggested that drivers remove any driver’s side floor mats until a permanent safety fix could be put in place.  However, Toyota has also provided information on what to do if your vehicle experiences uncontrolled acceleration if the gas pedal becomes stuck open.

    If the floor mat is responsible for the stuck pedal, the driver should attempt to dislodge it immediately if it is safe to do so.  If moving the floor mat is not an option, here is what Toyota recommends:

    • Firmly and steadily step on the brake pedal with both feet. Do not pump the brake pedal repeatedly since this will increase the effort required to slow the vehicle.
    • Shift the transmission gear selector to the Neutral (N) position and use the brakes to make a controlled stop at the side of the road and turn off the engine.
    • If unable to put the vehicle in Neutral, turn the engine off, or to ACC. This will not cause loss of steering or braking control, but the power assist to these systems will be lost.
    • If the vehicle is equipped with an Engine Start/Stop button, firmly and steadily push the button for at least three seconds to turn off the engine. Do not tap the Engine Start/Stop button.
    • If the vehicle is equipped with a conventional key-ignition, turn the ignition key to the ACC position to turn off the engine. Do not remove the key from the ignition since this will lock the steering wheel.

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  • The Commercial Carriers Journal recently expanded on the President’s plans for the transportation infrastructure:

    The American Trucking Associations on Tuesday, Dec. 8, announced its support for President Obama’s call for additional investment in transportation infrastructure as a way to stimulate jobs and economic growth. In a nationally televised speech, Obama said he would press Congress to pass legislation to pay for additional infrastructure works.

    According to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, there are nearly 7,500 highway projects throughout the country worth more than $47 billion that could be started almost immediately. The Federal Highway Administration estimates that each billion dollars invested in federal-aid highway projects generates about 30,000 jobs. Therefore, this spending level could, in a short time span, create at least 1.4 million jobs, while also making our highways safer and less congested.

    ATA says it urges Congress and the Obama administration to expedite funding for ready-to-go highway projects while continuing to work toward quick passage of a long-term highway bill with robust funding for highway projects that yield significant national and regional economic benefits.


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  • With the help of GM’s OnStar in-vehicle safety and security system, police have apprehended two suspects accused of hijacking a vehicle from Julia Corker, the 22-year-old daughter of U.S. Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN).

    Steven Alston, 25, and Dewalden Connors, 22, are now in custody in a facility in Prince George’s County, Md., the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported. They are both charged with possession of a stolen vehicle. Other charges were pending.

    According to Sen. Corker’s spokesman, Julia Corker was driving home about 9:15 p.m. on Dec. 2 when someone knocked on her window at a stop sign near the Verizon Center. While she responded to one man asking for directions, another man allegedly got in the passenger side of her vehicle and forced her out. She was thrown to the pavement but suffered no serious injuries.

    D.C. police said they used the onboard OnStar system to track down the stolen Chevy Tahoe, and the suspects were taken into custody in Suitland. Ms. Corker positively identified the suspects later that evening.

    Photo courtesy of OnStar Connections under the Creative Commons License.


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  • In an effort to reinforce on-the-job skills and improve the safety records of its bus drivers, the Hartford Country (Md.) Public Schools transportation department has constructed a summer training course for the past four years in the parking lot of a local stadium.

    The course tests the driving skills of over six hundred drivers over two tightly-scheduled days.  Work barrels, cones, signs and barricades are donated by the Maryland State Highway Administration to simulate real-world road conditions like construction zones and railroad crossings.  Drivers review their training manuals prior to driving the course, and take road tests for thirteen different skills that include routine bus stops, emergency stops, docking and distance judgment.

    Hartford County Public Schools transport thirty-four thousand students on four hundred eighty-six buses every day.  With programs like the summer training course, parents can rest a little easier knowing that their children are in the hands of fully capable drivers.

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  • If you are looking to replace tires in your fleet, make sure you act quickly:

    For the first time in more than a year, Yokohama Tire Corporation is increasing prices on all of its consumer tires by up to 6 percent, effective Jan. 1, 2010. The increase, due to a continued rise in the cost of raw materials and transportation, includes passenger and light truck tires.

    Off-the-road and commercial tires will not be affected by the increase at this time. The last price increase from Yokohama was July 1, 2008.

    “It was a difficult decision to raise prices, and we held off as long as we could,” said Shawn Denlein, Yokohama Tire director of sales, Consumer Products.  “Unfortunately, the costs of some raw materials, energy and transportation continue to escalate, leaving us no option.”

    Added Jim MacMaster, Yokohama executive vice president and COO: “We continually strive to keep costs down while bringing the best products to market at competitive prices. “Our operational efficiencies, environmental procedures and the latest technology help, but today’s business climate makes it a challenge to contain costs.”

    Celebrating its 40th anniversary in the United States, Yokohama Tire Corporation is the North American manufacturing and marketing arm of Tokyo, Japan-based The Yokohama Rubber Co., Ltd., a global manufacturing and sales company of premium tires since 1917. The company services a network of more than 4,500 points of sale in the U.S.

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  • Via Auto Rental News:

    At an estimated $20.46 billion, revenue for the U.S. car rental industry in 2009 will have dropped for the first time since 2002. However, auto rental companies are realizing the highest revenue per car in more than 10 years. “This is a positive indicator as to the health of the industry,” says Chris Brown, executive editor of Auto Rental News.

    The industry took a beating in the past two years, says Brown, first with a chaotic used-car market brought on by high gas prices and discounting by the car manufacturers, then with the credit crunch and reduced travel demand.

    With little credit to buy cars and lower manufacturer incentives, companies were forced to hold cars longer and operate smaller fleets. This resulted in higher rental rates on higher mileage cars. Consumers appear to be assimilating to the change, Brown says, as evidenced by stabilized customer satisfaction scores.

    Although revenues were down, cost-cutting measures have improved the bottom line, says Brown. Additionally, a recent lack of supply in the used-car market has strengthened resale values. “The industry appears to be comfortable with this new model of tight fleets and longer lives for cars,” says Brown.

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  • Engineers who hacked into the Los Angeles traffic control system to cause gridlock were sentenced to two years’probation, according to the Los Angeles Times.

    Traffic Engineers GabrielMurillo and Kartik Patel were involved in a labor dispute with the city back in 2006. As part of a protest, they apparently decided it would be a good idea to make drivers lives even more frustrating than normal by creating gridlock at major intersections.

    Despite the city’s efforts to block access during the strike, the two managed to hack into the city’s traffic control system and alter the timing of several stop lights.

    According to the Times, “the engineers programmed the signals so that red lights for several days starting Aug. 21, 2006 would be extremely long on the most congested approaches to the intersections, causing gridlock. Cars backed up at Los Angeles International Airport, at a key intersection in Studio City, at access onto the clogged Glendale Freeway and throughout the streets ofLittle Tokyo and the L.A.Civic Centerarea, sources told The Times at the time. No accidents occurred as a result.”

    Both were sentenced to two years probation. As part of their plea, they agreed to pay $6,250 in restitution and completed 240 hours of community service, reported the Times.

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