• Few buying new or used, or anything, really

    What’s it going to take to get you into a new or gently used fleet vehicle today?


    New car sales for commercial fleets are down 62.4%, compared to this time last year, according to CNW Marketing Research. Even used commercial, fleet and business sales are well below March 2008 numbers, BusinessFleet.com says.

    Percentage Change vs. March 2008


    While partially a lack in confidence in the current business climate, this trend is likely due to lack of business across the board.

    Less consumer spending. Less deliveries. Shipping costs are down. More consolidated routes. Having to go farther to break into the black. All of which makes it tough to justify the purchase of a new vehicle, let alone a small fleet of them.

    So take care of the fleet you have and, in the long run, it will take care of business. Spend money on regular maintenance and firming up efficiencies like reducing unwanted purchases.

    Soon enough the economy will bounce back. So will confidence and new business. With or without that new fleet smell.

    Categories
    • Industry News


  • While the right fleet card can help you keep up with the maintenance of your vehicles, we know that in the business world, perception is reality.  That means that the appearance of your fleet is as important as anything you do for your company.

    So here are a few tips on how to keep your vehicles looking like they’re best in class without having to spend money having them constantly detailed by a professional.

    1) When you wash a vehicle, make sure it’s in a shaded area and that the surface is cool.  Doing so will help prevent soap spots that resulted from drying too quickly.

    2) When washing, always start by soaking the roof and working your way down.  This will help ensure that when you are washing the vehicle, you aren’t scratching the paint with any debris.

    3) Cut off a piece of hose pipe, 15 to 20” or so and connect it to the end of your vacuum tube.  It will help you get into those hard to reach areas down the side of the center console, but it actually has more power.

    4) Use baby wipes on dashboards and leather upholstery.  The oil in baby wipes does not leave stains and is great for getting out spots and spills.  It also leaves an anti-static layer on dashboards.

    Also, if you have ink stains on leather upholstery, try removing it with cuticle remover – NOT nail polish remover! Put cuticle remover on the stain for at least 10 minutes.  Club soda, hand sanitizer and shaving cream are also good at removing stains without leaving a mark of their own.

    5) Use a paintbrush to get in to the grooves when detailing interiors like dashboards and consoles.

    6) If your windshield is blurring when you turn the wipers on, dampen a rag with some white vinegar and run it down the full length of each blade.

    7) Spray a rusty license plate with WD-40.  It will not only help remove rust, but prevent more rust from forming.

    8) Finally, remove stale odors by spraying a store bought odor eliminator into the system’s air intake, which is usually located at the base of the windshield. Then run the air conditioner full blast for at least 10 minutes.

    Taking care of the interior and exterior of your vehicles on a regular basis is not only good for perception but will also protect the value of your fleet.

    Make it a part of your driver’s routine and see if it doesn’t help morale out a little bit as well…

    Categories
    • Fleet Resources


  • Airplanes have them. Your vehicles soon will. And we’re not talking peanuts.

    Event Data Records will soon be mandatory on all new vehicles, and may already be in the vehicles you own.

    Automakers are asking for more time to comply with new rules on data standards that apply to event data recorders in new vehicles, according to CollisionWeek. The current deadline for implementation is Sept. 1, 2012, as stated by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

    The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers submitted a recent petition requesting a one-year extension.

    Apparently automakers have some unanswered questions about specific types of data capture about air bag and restraint deployment, plus clarification on “time zero” and “end of event,” data formatting for accelerometers, and procedures for multi-event crashes, CollisionWeek reported.

    Typically used by insurance companies, police and accident investigators, the event data recorders only monitor information in the seconds leading up to and after it senses your airbags are about to go off; things such as:

    • Engine speed
    • Automobile speed
    • Brake status
    • Passenger’s airbag
    • Seat belts (on or off)
    • Warning lamps
    • Ignition cycle
    • Velocity
    • Air bag timing

    According to The Motoring Loans Blog, about 70% of all new vehicles have the devices. And General Motors has been installing these soap-sized recorders in every automobile since 1999.

    Interestingly, some fleets with
    event data recorders, including ones that monitor driving habits, may qualify for auto insurance discounts.

    Oh, and if you go looking for a black box in your late model delivery van, many aren’t black at all. They often come in vibrant colors for easy recovery, and it’s probably tucked away under your seat or dashboard.

    Photo copyright of
    mvhargan under the Creative Commons license

    Categories
    • Industry News


  • Drug-related violence up; fleet cargo easy payload for criminals

    Safe drinking water is no longer the biggest health concern for fleet drivers who enter Mexico on business. There could be far more serious danger ahead, according to The Transportation Security Administration.

    TodaysTrucking.com
    posted a TSA press release alerting truckers who drive south of the border to be extremely careful with drug-related violence skyrocketing throughout the area.

    There have been more than 200 American slayings since 2004, along with spikes in robberies, carjackings, kidnappings, and thefts, according to the site.

    “Truck drivers may face an elevated risk of being a crime victim as their loads represent a potentially easy payoff for criminals,” said Don L. Rondeau, director of TCA’s Highway Information Sharing and Analysis Center. “We’re strongly urging … trucking companies and owner-operators to exercise extreme caution when making deliveries or pick-ups along the Mexican border.”

    TSA’s Highway Information Sharing and Analysis Center (ISAC) issued these precautionary guidelines for drivers with border-region routes:

    • Report in with operations headquarters or dispatchers at every scheduled or non-scheduled stop and give detailed location and next destination information.
    • Establish a duress code that allows the driver to effectively communicate potential problems in the presence of potential criminals.
    • Avoid driving on unsafe roads and stick to the toll roads whenever possible.
    • Check with cell phone providers prior to departure to ensure that the driver’s cell phone is capable of roaming on GSM or 3G international networks.

    Truck drivers witnessing potential criminal activities should contact Highway ISAC’s First Observer program at 888-217-5902.

    Photo copyright of
    MarkWallace and re-used under the Creative Commons license

    Categories
    • Fleet Resources


  • Missing receipts are a common problem when trying to reimburse your employee expenses. You’ve probably heard all the standard ones:  it was in the pockets of the pants that I washed, I never got one,  the dog ate it.

    We want to know: what’s the best excuse you’ve ever heard from a driver or employee about why they didn’t have an expense reciept?

    Leave your answer below in the comments section, and we’ll pick the winner that makes us shake our head in disbelief and send them a $50 MasterCard gift card.

    Contest closes next Thursday, April 9!

    Photo copyright of
    Dan4th

    Categories
    • Friday Contest


  • Well our 1st blog on CB lingo was so popular there was a line waiting to get on our site from here to Cactus Patch (Phoenix, AZ). So, we thought we keep things rolling down Alphabet road and choose our favorites from C-D:

    C

    Cash Register -Toll booth

    Chew ‘n choke -Restaurant

    Checking My Eyelinds For Pin Holes -Tired or sleepy.

    Check the seatcovers -Look at that passenger (usually a woman)

    Chicken Coup- Weigh station

    Christmas Card- Speeding ticket

    Coffee Bean- Waiter or waitress

    Colorado Kool Aid -Beer

    Convoy- 2 or more vehicles traveling the same route.

    D

    Dead Pedal- Slow moving car or truck

    Dice City- Las Vegas

    Diesel Juice -Fuel oil

    Dixie Cup- Female operator with southern accent

    Doing the Five-Five- Traveling at 55mph

    Don’t Feed The Bears- Don’t get any tickets

    Double Nickel -55mph

    Down and on the side -Through talking but listening.

    Dream Weaver- Sleepy driver who is all over the road.

    Dressed for the ball -You have your “Ears ON”, listening to the road conditions

    Man, that was intense. I’m checking my eyelids for pinholes. I need a Colorado Kool-Aid and two tickets to Dice City after that. Check back next week when we make our pull off at the metaphorical exit ramp better known as E-F and G.

    Categories
    • Fleet Resources


  • After a nearly two-year investigation, the FBI announced the breakup of a major organized crime ring that has been involved in vehicle cloning in Tampa, Miami, Chicago and Mexico.

    Car-cloning involves taking a stolen vehicle and giving it the same identity and VIN number as a legally-owned vehicle of the same make and model. The cloned car is outfitted with counterfeit labels, plates, stickers, and titles, then passed off as a legitimate vehicle.

    In this case, more then 1,000 cloned vehicles were transported and sold to buyers in 20 states and in several countries. Many of the buyers purchased the vehicles for significantly under the fair market value.

    The individuals have been operating within the United States for nearly 20 years and in Mexico since at least 2004 and officials are estimating that they created more than $25 million dollars in losses to consumers and victims. 

    Remember, if a deal on a car sounds too good to be true, that’s because it probably is.

    Read more about this story at the National Insurace Crime Bureau.

    Categories
    • Industry News


  • To Catch a Car Thief

    Apr 01, 2009
    Every 26 seconds, a car is stolen, adding up to 1.2 million stolen vehicles a year and billions in higher insurance premiums.  Allstate Insurance Co. is hoping to reduce the number of stolen vehicles by donating “bait cars” to select police departments throughout the country.

    The bait cars – which were not available for public viewing in order to keep their identities secret – are outfitted with advanced technologies that will allow for police departments to catch thieves in action. Allstate hopes that by helping educate police on how criminals approach car theft, they can also help them to prevent it from happening.

    The National Insurance Crime Bureau reports that the most popular stolen cars nationwide are:

    • 1995 Honda Civic
    • 1991 Honda Accord
    • 1989 Toyota Camry
    • 1997 Ford F-150 Series Pickup
    • 1994 Chevrolet C/K 1500 Pickup
    • 1994 Acura Integra
    • 2004 Dodge Ram Pickup
    • 1994 Nissan Sentra
    • 1988 Toyota Pickup
    • 2007 Toyota Corolla

    Are any of your fleet vehicles on the list of “hot wheels?

    Photo copyright

    Categories
    • Industry News


  • As the ripple effects of the current recession continue, businesses are being forced to look at not just the impact, but at how things will be run in the future.

    At this years Truckload Carriers Association conference in Orlando, survival was the one word on most participants minds, but as many leaders have stated over the last few months, there is also an opportunity to implement new ideas and knowledge from past mistakes.


    In recent years when the economy seemed to be on steady ground, trucking companies were more willing to spend money on expanding their fleets to meet anticipated demands.

    Today the trend is shifting toward being more conservative with estimations and looking to increase profit by raising rates alone.

    As a result, equipment used by trucking companies is also beginning to have an effect on the industry across the board.  Carriers in a position to, or who have the need to add capacity are avoiding buying new equipment or opting for used equipment, which is driving prices down across the board.

    The carriers who are not doing as well are then finding themselves owing more on equipment that they’re still paying on than it is actually worth, making it tough to get out of the business even if they wanted to.

    The news isn’t all bad though…a report from Transport Capital Partners released findings from the Orlando conference says that while tonnage is off, some carriers are starting to see a boost that might imply that at least the recession has hit bottom.

    With that, some of the healthier carriers are looking to merge or acquire companies that can expand their business, or are looking at companies that they feel can be fixed.

    The result may be that when the economy does turn around, we may have a “capacity crunch” without enough tonnage capabilities to meet demand.

    These days though, that sounds like a pretty nice problem to have.

    Categories
    • TrendWatch


  • Heavy Weight Fight

    Mar 31, 2009

    Congress spars over commercial truck size and safety

    It’s no secret Americans are generally overweight and now, according to some legislators, so are our commercial payloads.

    Fleetowner.com reports that two national legislative bills on truck capacity will be debated in U.S. Congress in the coming weeks.

    The first is aimed at, among other things, reducing the effects of heavier hauls on already burdened bridges and highways, which are put to the test daily by today’s plus-sized trucks.

    House bill H.R. 1618, titled the “Safe Highways and Infrastructure Preservation Act” (SHIPA) was introduced by March 19 by Rep. James McGovern (D-MA) with Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) as the lead minority cosponsor.

    It seeks to “freeze current truck size and weight limits for all states to those rules on the books as of June 1, 2008 – limiting truck trailer size to 53-ft long and weight limits to 80,000 lbs., unless a state allowed longer and heavier trucks to operate on its roads as of that date.”


    In the opposite corner, the “anti-SHIPA” legislation is driven by Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME), which appears to be more of an “opt-in” system for states that can confidently handle higher weight limits on commercial vehicles.

    Todd Spencer, executive VP of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (and SHIPA supporter) was quoted as saying: “Many times, a 40-ft. container can move what’s being shipped in 53-ft. containers today,” he said.


    According to Jake Jacoby, executive director of the lobbying group Americans for Safe and Efficient Transportation (ASET), commercial vehicle miles traveled will double over the next 20 years, while only 6% to 8% of the money of the president’s stimulus bill is being spent on increasing transportation capacity.

    Who will win? Until this is settled, at least the guys patching up those potholes and overpasses will burn off plenty of calories.

    Photo copyright of
    Ryan Hoist

    Categories
    • Industry News