• General Motors Corp.’s latest profitability plan calls for the ailing automaker to close up to five undisclosed plants, according to an article on Boston.com.

    The article speculated on the ones that are most vulnerable, and it seems that the company’s truck plants might take this one square on the grill.
    • GM’s Shreveport plant that produces Chevrolet Colorado and Canyon pick-ups, along with the now for sale Hummer line (1,500 workers)
    • Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra assembly plant in Pontiac, MI
    • V-6 and V-8 truck engine plants in Romulus, MI (900 workers)
    • Transmission facility in Ypsilanti, MI (1,500 workers)
    • Metal stamping plant at Mansfield, Ohio (1,250 workers)

    Yes, the economy is sputtering. Yes, this is more bad news for the American workforce. But, there may be a silver lining, aside from GM being forced to refocus on smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles. It’s entirely possible that small businesses with fleets experience some sort of trickle-down effect — where there’s still a demand for these fuel-thirsty workhorses.

    At best, there are great deals out there on new GM trucks to add to your parking lot. At worst, a dealer can reduce the price, but not the size of its gas tank. And there’s no guarantee that your new ride fits in the parking space.

    Categories
    • Industry News


  • The store made famous for its everyday low priced goods may soon also gain notoriety for the way it delivers those goods to the store— with an everyday low impact fleet.

    According to Fleet Owner, Wal-Mart Stores will test four different types of environmentally friendly heavy-duty vehicles, including two hybrids and two alternatively-fueled trucks, throughout 2009.

    “In order to meet our goal of doubling our fleet efficiency, we are taking an active role in the development of these technologies,” said Chris Sultemeier, Senior VP of transportation for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

    With unpredictable gas prices coupled with an economy where fleet businesses may find themselves driving further to turn a profit, is this type of efficiency the road to the profitability?

    What about businesses who cannot afford the costs of alternative fuel? Until then, your best bet may be other types of business efficiencies: fuel cards that don’t lock you in to a particular station, or ones that lock in a price, consolidating routes, routine maintenance or some type of fuel management program to control unwanted purchases and expenses.

    It’s going to be a long road, but it doesn’t have to be a bumpy one.

    To read the entire article, click  here.
    Categories
    • Industry News


  • If you’ve ever had to take your car into the shop, chances are someone’s told you “don’t take it to the dealership.” That may be solid advice as a new study by the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association discovered that vehicle repairs cost, on average, 34% more at new car dealerships then at independent repair shops.

    According to the study, repair and labor costs varied from city to city and from manufacturer to manufacturer, but one thing was constant: the price at the dealership was considerably higher. In Los Angeles, consumers will pay as much as 46.8% more at dealership then at independent repair shops. Averaging all six cities from the study together resulted in consumers paying 34.3% more at new car dealers then at independent shops.

    Does this mean you should never take your vehicle to the dealership for repairs? Not necessarily, as dealerships are often experts on a particular car manufacturer. You should, however, be well-informed before you take your vehicle anywhere for repairs.

    Make sure you:

    • Get multiple estimates in writing, from both a dealership and an independent shop. Your dealership may match the lower price in order to win your business.
    • Get referrals from colleagues and co-workers.

    Read the entire AAIA study here, and let us know: have you found that dealerships charge more then independent shops for the same kinds of repairs?

    Categories
    • Industry News


  • As an industry that is truly at the heart of America’s growth, fleet and trucking businesses usually feel the brunt of every twist and turn the economy takes. 2008’s roller coaster gas prices hit the fleet industry hard, and literally thousands of trucking businesses were forced to file for bankruptcy.

    However, trucking companies that consolidated and found ways to run their fleets more efficiently not only have been surviving in this economic climate, they have been one of the few industries to actually be in a position to hire.

    In an article posted on MSNBC.com that is part of an on-going series of reports on the re-invention of America and American business, trucking company managers say they have seen all walks of life, including white collar and blue collar professionals, college educated bankers and corporate executives, applying for jobs as drivers.

    Fleet managers are reporting that job inquiries are up between 40-50%, giving them the “pick of the crop” for drivers where there used to be a shortage.

    It is an interesting trend and one that could have an impact on your business as well, from hiring to making you look at ways to run your business more efficiently.

    And to read more of the MSNBC posting from the article “Downturn Puts the Trucking Industry in the Driver’s Seat,” click  here.

    Photo copyright of
    TomSaint11


  • Spring time brings warmer weather, longer days, and historically, higher gas prices. Fuel prices tend to begin to climb each year right around this time, reaching their peak around Memorial Day when many motorists are hitting the road in high numbers.

    This year, however, could turn out to be a little different if the price of oil, a key factor in the price of fuel, continues to remain low. Oil prices have remained relatively low due to lowered consumer demand.

    The Energy Information Administration reports that the weekly demand for fuel has declined for the last four weeks. Gas price increases have been fairly stagnant due to the struggling economy and job losses, ultimately which have resulted in consumers driving less. The EIA predicts that because of this, the national average will remain close to or slightly under $2 a gallon.

    Let’s hope that they’re right and we never return to the days of over $4 a gallon at the pump, since we can all use that extra money in our pockets.

    Read the entire article here.

    Categories
    • Industry News


  • American Idle

    Mar 23, 2009

    As last year’s spike in oil prices took its toll on fleet operations, managers across the country were looking for any and every possible way to save money on gas.

    One technique that became critical was idle reduction. Idling vehicles use up to several billion gallons of fuel and emit large quantities of air pollution and greenhouse gases each year.

    Idle reduction technologies and practices are an important way to cut petroleum consumption and emissions.  While not necessarily a new idea, companies that enforced the concept ended up seeing immediate savings both in the bank and in the tank.

    These days, there are a different set of challenges facing fleet managers including environmental concerns and economic struggles that have kept idle reduction on many fleet managers radar.

    Suppliers selling idle reduction systems have seen sales numbers increase dramatically over the last few years and there is also an increasing interest in on-board hybrid power systems that could end up sparking a true revolution in the trucking industry.

    No matter what size your fleet is, today’s issues are also providing a true opportunity for smart thinking and innovative ideas that could mean savings in more ways than one.

    Click here
    to check out a great article in the March edition of Fleet Owner on-line 
    for a more in-depth look at the impact and effects idle reduction is making.

    If you’re interested in looking into idle reduction systems for your fleet, here’s a list of companies you might want to look into:



  • According to the Rubber Manufacturers Association, tire shipments are expected to drop more then 7% in 2009, following an almost 9% decline from the previous year.

    As we reported earlier, the decline in units is closely tied to the cost of oil, a primary ingredient in the manufacturing process. The RMA also noted decreased consumer confidence, higher unemployment rates and a decline in vehicle miles travelled as other factors in the nearly 21 million unit decline.

    However, 2010 will bring better news as analysts are predicting a turn-around in line with economic forecasts. Analysts predict that the industry will begin to recovery and ship an anticipated 270 million units.

    With tire shipments on the decline for the next few months, its more important then ever that you get the most mileage out of the ones that you have. With a fleet card, you can monitor your vehicles performance and maintenance schedules to ensure that your vehicle’s tires are properly rotated and checked at the right time, giving you the most bang for your buck.

    Click here
    to read the entire article.

    Photo copyright of
    Mykl Roventine.

    Categories
    • Industry News


  • In today’s economy, everyone is looking for ways to stay afloat and bring in extra income. However, some are stooping to unscrupulous methods to bring in extra cash, and the Consumer Federation of America and CNN are reporting that auto repair fraud is one of the top scams on the rise.

    Auto repair fraud, especially at U.S. dealerships, is sharply on the rise. Some of the less reputable dealers are trying to bill customers for unnecessary repairs or billing for repairs that aren’t needed.

    There a number of ways to protect yourself and your company from being a victim of this scam:

    • Ask trusted friend and colleagues for referrals.
    • Get an estimate in writing and obtain a second estimate before any work is done.
    • Check your repair shop and dealership against the Better Business Bureau database.  
    • Monitor your vehicle’s performance with the reporting a fleet card provides so you can be sure you are not over-scheduling maintenance appointments.

    Read about all 5 scams here.

    Categories
    • Industry News


  • In order to reduce costs by more then $300 million this year, the New York Times is reporting that Sunoco will cut 750 jobs, roughly 20% of their 13,500-person work force.

    Cuts are being blamed on the recession and lowered consumer demand for gasoline and diesel fuel. Sunoco plans to offer severance packages to all laid off workers, as well as offering some hourly employees buyouts.

    Read the entire article here.

    Categories
    • Industry News


  • Remember last summer when we thought $4 a gallon for fuel was bad? Well, one man in Spokane, Washington recently found out he paid $550 million per gallon when his bank alerted him to an $81 billion dollar charge on his account.

    Juan Zamora thought he was putting $90 worth of gas into his car, until his bank alerted him of an $81 billion dollar charge. Yes, that’s billion, and yes, the bank tried to put it through. Zamora tried calling his bank, the gas station, even his card provider to get the charges reversed.

    After a few sweat-inducing days with -$81 billion in his account, they finally traced the charge back to a computer error. The gas station indaverently used the station’s merchant ID as the amount.

    Word to the wise: you can set spending limits with a fleet fuel card so you have 81 billion less things to worry about.

    Read the entire story here.