• Idiot-proofing your fleet: Avoiding the 10 dumbest mistakes you can make managing your fleet fuel expensesWhile it is true that it is easy for one silly mistake to have a real effect on some less-than-savvy fleet managers, the right system can help any business avoid the pain of costly mistakes (and that sting from smacking yourself in the forehead when it’s your fault).

    So, for the next 10 days, we’re taking a look at how a fleet card can keep your fleet safe from any of these top 10 blunders.


    1. Giving Too Much Detail

    The Problem- Too much information going to upper management can result in the reports being over-analyzed or the point being lost in the flood of information. Either way, the fleet manager can look bad.

    The Solution- If you try to shuffle through a box of receipts one by one with your manager, they’ll probably be asleep in ten minutes. The reporting provided by a fleet card makes sure that your managers get accurate information on your fleet fuel spending with whatever level of detail you desire. Go over every transaction or simply look at the budget vs. spending. Now you look like an efficient fleet-managing machine.

    Visit us tomorrow for our response to the #2 mistake you can make managing your fleet fuel expenses


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    • TrendWatch

  • House Republicans and Senate Democrats derided each other’s responses to rising gasoline prices Tuesday, setting the stage for competing measures that could pass one house but stall in the other.

    House of Pain: Government Locks Up on Fuel Price Plans

    The House is focused on accelerating permits for oil and gas drilling and on opening up new areas where drilling has been off-limits for decades. A bill up for a vote in the House on Wednesday, if it became law, would open the waters off New Jersey to new leases as early as next year.

    In the Senate, New Jersey Democrat Bob Menendez has support from Majority Leader Harry Reid for a bill he introduced Tuesday to eliminate some oil company tax breaks and subsidies. His plan would apply the $2 billion a year in increased tax revenue toward reducing the deficit, which this year is $1.5 trillion.

    Republicans in the House, and the industry lobbying group the American Petroleum Institute, argued that raising taxes on oil companies would make things worse.

    Menendez said that the five largest oil companies are projected to have $125 billion in profits this year, and there is no justification for the tax breaks he is seeking to eliminate.

    “If the big five could just live … with $123 billion in profits in 2011, they could pay their fair share in taxes, help lower the deficit and not raise the price of gasoline,” Menendez said.

    What do you think is the solution for higher prices? Leave a comment and let us know.


    [via northjersey.com]


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    • Industry News

  • It turns out that the price of the gas going into your tank isn’t the only fuel-related woe for some vehicle owners.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating reports of a fault that can cause fuel tank fires on Ford’s iconic F-150 pickup:

    Hot Topic: F-150 Tanks Vulnerable to Fire


    Federal regulators have expanded the investigation into 2.7 million Ford F-150 pickups over complaints fuel tank straps have rusted and failed, putting vehicles at risk of a fire.


    In a notice posted on the NHTSA website Sunday, the agency said it had upgraded its investigation into 2.7 million 1997-2001 F-150 pickups after reviewing about 300 complaints.


    NHTSA said there are two reports of fires. In one, leaking fuel ignited, but quickly burned out. In the other incident, Ford said "the leaking fuel ignited and the … fire destroyed the vehicle." No injuries have been reported.


    NHTSA said its investigation is focused on the steel straps holding the fuel tank and attaching it to the truck frame, saying it "can corrode and break."


    If the straps break, the tank might tilt, drop and hit the road, causing a fuel leak. The leaking gasoline can potentially cause a fire, NHTSA said.


    NHTSA said its investigation "yielded information that strongly suggests the subject defect as the cause of the reported problem."


    [via The Detroit News]


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    • Industry News

  • A recent survey in nine Midwestern and Plains states suggests that the rising cost of fuel could be dampening economic recovery in the local economy of those states.

    Are Higher Gas Prices Hurting the Economy?


    According to a report released Monday, the Business Conditions Index for the Mid-America region dropped in April for a second straight month, to 57.7 last month from 61.4 in March. The survey of supply managers and executives and the report use a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Organizers say any score above 50 suggests economic growth in the next three to six months, while a score below 50 suggests a contracting economy.


    Rising fuel costs can cause suppliers to cut back on shipments and consumers to spend less on non-essential goods and services, stifling economic growth nationwide.  Has your fleet felt the sting of more expensive fuel yet? Leave us a comment below and let us know how your business is adjusting.  And as always, remember that you can ease the pain of rising prices with a fleet card from FleetCards USA.


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    • Industry News

  • Study Identifies Most Uninsured Drivers by StateAcross the United States, chances are roughly one in seven that a driver is uninsured, according to new estimates from the Insurance Research Council (IRC).


    In 2009, the five states with the highest uninsured driver estimates were Mississippi (28 percent), New Mexico (26 percent), Tennessee (24 percent), Oklahoma (24 percent), and Florida (24 percent). The five states with the lowest uninsured driver estimates were Massachusetts (4.5 percent), Maine (4.5 percent), New York (5 percent), Pennsylvania (7 percent), and Vermont (7 percent).

    “The leveling trend in the percentage of uninsured motorists is an unfortunate consequence of the economic downturn and illustrates how virtually everyone is affected by recent economic developments," said Elizabeth A. Sprinkel, senior vice president of the IRC. “Despite laws in many states requiring drivers to maintain insurance, about one in seven motorists remain uninsured. This forces responsible drivers who carry insurance to bear the burden of paying for injuries caused by drivers who carry no insurance at all.”

    The IRC study examines data collected from nine insurers, representing approximately 50 percent of the private passenger auto insurance market in the U.S.


    Making sure your drivers are properly insured is essential to running your fleet. Make sure all information is up to date and guard your business against sudden, costly insurance issues.



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    • Industry News

  • Audi sustained its 2011 momentum with a series of record setting achievements. March U.S. sales of Audi cars and SUVs not only marked the third-straight monthly record for 2011, but also the best March in company history and the best first quarter of all-time. Additionally, the March 2011 results rank as the third-best monthly sales overall for the brand in its U.S. history. The strong March sales represented a month-to-month sales increase of more than 25 percent over February 2011, and a 14.3 percent improvement from March 2010. The 2011 best first quarter in company history comes on the heels of Audi posting its best annual U.S. sales for 2010.

    Audi Reports Record Q1 Sales

    Overall, Audi sold 9,818 vehicles in March 2011 compared to the 8,589 vehicles sold in March 2010 to set the old record for the month. The strong sales results were buoyed by the continued extraordinary public response to the 2011 Audi A8 flagship model with a 788.9 percent increase in sales from a year earlier. March 2011 was the best month for Audi A8 sales in more than five years. Sales of the Audi A4 recorded more than a 20 percent month-to-month sales increase over February 2011 and climbed 12.1 percent compared to March 2010.


    [via Fleet Financials]


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    • Industry News

  • Ford Pickup Recall ExpandsFord Motor Co. is recalling 1.32 million model-year 2004-2006 F-150 and model-year 2006 Lincoln Mark LT trucks, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 

    This recall, which addresses a potential airbag problem, got under way on some vehicles in March. The recall campaign on the additional vehicles is expected to begin around May 9. 

    If the truck's clockspring jumper wire comes in contact with the driver-side frontal airbag lower horn plate, the wire insulation may become chafed. This creates the potential for a short circuit. If this occurs, the airbag warning lamp may illuminate to indicate that service is required. A short circuit could result in the driver-side frontal airbag inadvertently deploying, increasing the risk of injury or loss of vehicle control, the NHTSA said. 

    Ford will notify truck owners of the recall, and dealers will install a new clockspring jumper wire that incorporates a protective mesh cover. There will be no charge for these repairs. 


    [via Automotive Fleet]


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    • Industry News

  • U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on Tuesday, April 26, praised North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple for signing a new law banning texting while driving in the state. The new law, which becomes effective Aug. 1, will impose a fine of $100 on people caught texting while driving.

    North Dakota Enacts Texting Ban

    “North Dakota has taken an important step to eliminate distracted driving,” LaHood said. “Thanks to the bill signed today by Governor Dalrymple, North Dakota roads will be safer for everyone.”

    With the addition of North Dakota, 31 states, the District of Columbia and Guam now have banned text messaging by all drivers. Eight states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands have prohibited all handheld cell phone use while driving.

    In 2009, LaHood launched a national anti-distracted driving campaign modeled on other NHTSA efforts to reduce fatalities, such as its “Over the Limit Under Arrest” and “Click It Or Ticket” campaigns to curb drunk driving and increase seatbelt use.

    In addition, DOT has launched a dedicated website, Distraction.gov, to provide the public with a comprehensive source of information on distracted driving; hosted two national summits devoted to the issue; crafted sample legislation that states can use to adopt distracted driving laws; and initiated pilot law enforcement programs in Hartford, Conn., and Syracuse, N.Y.


    [via Commercial Carrier Journal]


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    • Industry News

  • Fleet Safety Tip- Vehicle SpacingThis week's Automotive Fleet safety tip addresses how drivers can maintain a safety "space cushion" on each side of their vehicle to decrease the likelihood of a collision.

    -Do not stay in another driver's blind spot. The other driver may not see your vehicle and could change lanes and hit you.

    -Avoid driving directly alongside other vehicles on multilane streets with or without traffic in the opposite direction. Another driver might crowd your lane or change lanes without looking and crash into you. Drive either ahead of or behind the other vehicle.

    -If possible and when safe, make room for vehicles entering freeways even though you have the right-of-way.

    -At freeway exits, do not drive alongside other cars. A driver may decide to exit suddenly or swerve back onto the freeway.

    -Keep a space between yourself and parked cars. Someone may step out from between them. A vehicle door may open or a vehicle may pull out suddenly.

    -Be careful when driving near motorcyclists or bicyclists. Always leave plenty of room between your vehicle and any motorcyclists or bicyclists. 

     [via Automotive Fleet]

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    • Industry News

  • Battery Advances Needed for EVsWhile industry watchers may debate how quickly consumers will make the transition to electric vehicles, they generally agree this transition will require big improvements to the batteries that power these cars.

    In the near term, reducing the cost of the battery — and with it, the price of the vehicle — will come mostly from better manufacturing techniques and building more batteries. Improving durability and range will largely be the domain of researchers and scientists.

     Compared with the nickel-metal hydride battery used in the Toyota Prius, for example, a lithium-ion battery of the same weight and volume would increase energy density two to three times, said Venkat Srinivasan, manager of the Battery for Automotive Transportation Technologies Program, an Energy Department-supported program managed by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley.

    Even as new advances move from the lab to the production line in the coming decade, in the near term most cost reductions for the battery pack will come from lowering manufacturing costs, according to Alex A. Molinaroli, president of the Power Solutions group at Johnson Controls, a company building lithium-ion batteries for BMW, Daimler and Ford.

    With the battery the costliest component of the car, automakers tend to be tight-lipped about actual prices, considering it competitive information. Even so, Mike Omotoso, an automotive power train forecaster for J. D. Power & Associates, estimated today’s cost at around $750 to $800 per kilowatt-hour. For electric vehicles to achieve parity with gasoline-powered cars, from a cost perspective, most analysts estimate that battery cost must come closer to $200 per kilowatt-hour.

    Mary Ann Wright, vice president for global technology and innovation in the Power Solutions group for Johnson Controls, estimates that this parity point is a decade away, but offers two caveats. “You have to consider that the gasoline engine will also become more fuel-efficient during this time,” she said. “This technology is not standing still.” And parity must be considered as the total cost of ownership over the life of the car. “So while the sticker price may always be higher, the electric vehicle will be less expensive to maintain and operate over the life of the car compared to a gasoline-powered car,” she said.

    [via The New York Times]


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    • Industry News