• F-150 Recall Upcoming

    Mar 14, 2011

    Ford F-150 white truckA popular fleet vehicle will soon be facing a safety recall that could affect your business:

    Ford is recalling certain model-year 2009 and 2010 F-150 pickup trucks to fix or replace their interior door-handle assemblies.

    The recall affects trucks with chrome interior door handles that were built from Jan. 18, 2008, through Nov. 30, 2009. The recall affects 280,946 vehicles.

    The company says a part called the housing embossment that retains the door-handle spring can break during everyday use. If that happens there will not be enough spring force to return the door handle to its normal stowed position. Because of this condition, the door latch could open during a side-impact crash.

    Owners will be told to take their vehicles to a Ford or Lincoln-Mercury dealer if any interior door handle is loose or fails to return to the stowed position after use. A second notification will instruct owners who haven’t noticed any problems to bring their vehicles in to have the handle’s checked and possibly replaced.

    In a statement Ford said it is ”committed to safety and is quickly working to address this matter with our customers. We are not aware of any accidents related to the matter.”


    [via The Wall Street Journal]


    Photo courtesy of The Marmot and re-used under the Creative Commons license.

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  • Car and light truck sales are projected to increase 12% worldwide to 12.9 million units this year, according to a National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) research brief.

    Analysts are predicting that gasoline prices will exceed an average of $3.50 per gallon in the U.S. this year – mirroring the all-time high achieved in the summer of 2008, when gasoline prices rose above $4 a gallon in some places.

    Paul Taylor, NADA chief economist, pointed out that higher gasoline prices would also increase demand for the more expensive hybrids that typically languish on dealer lots when gasoline prices are lower, with sales of diesel cars and trucks expected to rise as well.

    The shortage in used vehicles is working in some consumers' favor, too, he added, because it has improved trade-in equity on their one- to five-year-old vehicles. That trend is paying dividends for dealers, too, because used-vehicle inventories are now more valuable.

     “The shortage of used cars is one more pillar of strength for the new-car market,” Taylor explained.

    Credit availability also remains a positive, with very low interest rates helping drive new-vehicle sales this year, he noted. The Federal Reserve Board at its last meeting indicated that the performance of the economy is likely to warrant exceptionally low levels for the federal funds rate for an extended period, putting automaker finance companies and other lenders in a position to offer very attractive financing rates on new-car loans, according to Taylor.

    Are you more likely to buy new fleet vehicles this year? Let us know in the comments below.


    [via FleetOwner]

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  • A new Carnegie Mellon University study released at the Washington Auto Show, reveals that diesel-engine vehicles are a better value compared to vehicles with gasoline engines due to lower operating costs and higher resale value over time.  

    "It's been generally known that diesel vehicles typically post lower operating costs because of their increased fuel economy," said Lester Lave, University Professor and Higgins Professor of Economics at CMU's Tepper School of Business. "But that's only one element of the equation. Our study considered a vehicle's initial price and resale value along with other operating and maintenance costs."

    The study, titled "Comparing Resale Prices and Total Cost of Ownership for Gasoline, Hybrid and Diesel Passenger Cars and Trucks," also found that the price differential between a clean diesel passenger car and a traditional PFI gasoline-powered vehicle could be recouped in less than 18 months of driving. In addition, clean diesels deliver on average of 30 percent better fuel economy than their gasoline counterparts. All of this translates into savings for the consumer, Lave said.

    Lave pointed out that Bosch, which manufactures clean diesel fuel injection systems for passenger cars, light-duty trucks and commercial vehicles, underwrote the cost of the study because they wanted real-world independent research conducted in this area.  

    "This study is unique because it compares actual auction prices of alternative power trains such as clean diesel and (PFI) gasoline engines," said Lars Ullrich, director of marketing for Bosch Diesel Systems North America. "As past studies only highlighted projected costs from resale values, this research provides a more robust set of data to support the conclusion that clean diesel vehicles provide a comparatively lower cost of ownership.”

    Does increased efficiency justify paying more for a vehicle in the short term for your fleet?

    Photo courtesy of Jeff Turner and re-used under the Creative Commons license.

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  • Fuel gage three quarters full

    Hyundai is nearing the goal of having a Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) level of 35 mph that the company set in 2008.


    Hyundai Motor America now reports monthly sales-weighted CAFE results for the Hyundai brand. For the month of Jan. 2011, Hyundai said its sales-weighted CAFE level was 34.7 miles per gallon with a model year mix of 86 percent 2011 vehicles and 14 percent 2010 vehicles.


    The automaker said this is a significant improvement over its most recent official CAFE level for the 2009 model year, which was 31.7 mpg. Its current mpg rating, as of Jan. 2011, for cars was 36.4, for its trucks 29.8.


    The company also said it began selling vehicles with a 40 mpg EPA fuel economy highway rating in November 2010, specifically the 2011 Elantra sedan and 2011 Sonata Hybrid.


    “With 2025 CAFE targets being discussed in the 47-to-62 mpg range, Hyundai’s fuel economy and sales achievements across a wide range of vehicle segments may provide some confidence to policy-makers that this industry can achieve remarkable fuel efficiency gains without compromising vehicle sales, appeal, value, or customer satisfaction,” said John Krafcik, Hyundai Motor America’s president and CEO.


    [via Automotive Fleet]


    Photo courtesy of Paul Schadler and re-used under the Creative Commons license.

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  • Shell sign lit up in night skyShell is working on an innovative new fuel that could end up saving fleets money in the long run… would you be interested if it were available for your vehicles?


    Shell Oil Products US announced a test of Shell Nitrogen Enriched Diesel, extending the company’s “Nitrogen Enriched” advanced cleaning system to diesel. The company says the fuel has been proven to reduce fuel consumption in an extensive test of heavy-duty vehicles and now is available on a trial basis. It will be offered to both commercial as well as retail customers at select points of sale in the areas of Baltimore; Nashville, Tenn.; and Richmond, Norfolk and Virginia Beach, Va. Shell Nitrogen Enriched Diesel will be available only to commercial customers in the Atlanta area.

    Shell Nitrogen Enriched Diesel is an ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel (ULSD) with an advanced cleaning system formulated to help protect a diesel engine against performance-robbing gunk buildup on fuel injectors with continual use. Gunk buildup can impair optimal fuel flow and can result in increased fuel consumption and associated CO2 emissions.

    Shell Nitrogen Enriched Diesel also is formulated to guard against corrosion with lubricity agents to help prevent fuel pump and injector wear and damage. Anti-gel agents for colder winter climates also will be available where needed. And according to the company, extensive heavy-duty truck fleet trials of Shell Nitrogen Enriched Diesel demonstrated a 4.8 percent reduction in fuel consumption in more severe stop-and-go city service and a 1.3 percent reduction in fuel consumption in less severe long-haul highway service as compared to regular ULSD.

    “We are very excited about this latest opportunity to test an advanced ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel,” says Jim Macias, a senior fuels technology manager for Shell. “It is well-suited for the evolving cleaner-burning diesel fuel market demand because Shell Nitrogen Enriched Diesel is designed for use in both traditional as well as new ultra-clean diesel engines with advanced emission controls. Additionally, the exclusive ‘Nitrogen Enriched’ advanced cleaning system is also fully compatible with biodiesel blends, which positions Shell to supply a high-quality product to help fill the growing demand for renewable fuels.”


    [via Commercial Carrier Journal]


    Photo courtesy of Jess Sloss and re-used under the Creative Commons license.

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  • Blizzard Safety

    Mar 07, 2011

    Trucks clearing snowy streetsWith the terrible weather conditions plaguing much of the nation this week, take a moment to look at some tips for staying safe on the roads from Automotive Fleet:

    This past week has been a fleet manager's nightmare of historic proportions. On Tuesday, Feb. 1, a winter blizzard paralyzed a third of the nation -- from Texas to Maine -- creating whiteout conditions for motorists and pummeling roads with ice and snow. In Chicago, for example, hundreds of drivers were stranded for up to 12 hours on Lake Shore Drive.

    In the wake of the storm, the Michigan State Police and Department of Transportation have issued the following tips for motorists. You may want to pass this list along to your drivers as a friendly reminder.

    -If you must travel, carry an emergency supply kit in your vehicle with essential items and let someone know your destination, your route and when you expect to arrive.

    -Check road conditions before traveling.

    -Always wear your safety belt and allow extra time to reach your destination.

    -To remain focused on driving, don't text or talk on cell phones while you are driving.

    -Keep in mind that snowplows have limited visibility and drivers cannot see behind their trucks. Snowplows often throw up snow clouds, reducing visibility on all sides of the truck.

    -Never attempt to pass a moving snowplow on the right. With new wing-plow technology, the blade can clear the shoulder and the lane of travel simultaneously. Motorists attempting an illegal pass through a snow cloud on the right and/or shoulder of the road most likely won't see the plow blade and run the risk of a serious crash.

    -Provide first responders with ample space by moving over one lane, if possible. 


    Photo courtesy of Al Camardella Jr. and re-used under the Creative Commons license.

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  • Red light camera above intersectionRed-light cameras saved 159 lives in 2004-08 in 14 of the biggest U.S. cities, according to a new analysis by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

    "The cities that have the courage to use red-light cameras despite the political backlash are saving lives," said IIHS President Adrian Lund.

    Looking at the 99 U.S. cities with populations over 200,000, the researchers compared those with red-light camera programs to those without. Because they wanted to see how the rate of fatal crashes changed after the introduction of cameras, they compared two periods -- 2004-08 and 1992-96. Cities that had cameras during 1992-96 were excluded from the analysis, as were cities that had cameras for only part of the later study period.

    The researchers found that in the 14 cities that had cameras during 2004-08, the combined per capita rate of fatal red light-running crashes fell 35 percent, compared with 1992-96. The rate also fell in the 48 cities without camera programs in either period, but only by 14 percent.

    Based on that comparison, the researchers concluded that the rate of fatal red light-running crashes in cities with cameras in 2004-08 was 24 percent lower than it would have been without cameras. That adds up to 74 fewer fatal red light-running crashes or, given the average number of fatalities per red light-running crash, approximately 83 lives saved.

    The actual benefit is even bigger, IIHS said. The rate of all fatal crashes at intersections with signals -- not just red light-running crashes -- fell 14 percent in the camera cities and crept up 2 percent in the non-camera cities. In the camera cities, there were 17 percent fewer fatal crashes per capita at intersections with signals in 2004-08 than would have been expected. That translates into 159 people who are alive because of the automated enforcement programs, IIHS said.

    Based on these calculations, if red-light cameras had been in place for all five years in all 99 U.S. cities with populations over 200,000, a total of 815 deaths could have been avoided, IIHS said.

    "Examining a large group of cities over several years allowed us to take a close look at the most serious crashes, the ones that claim people's lives," said Anne McCartt, IIHS senior vice president for research and a co-author of the study. "Our analysis shows that red-light cameras are making intersections safer."

    [via Automotive Fleet]


    Photo courtesy of Scott Akerman and re-used under the Creative Commons license.

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  • Two lane straight roadA new study conducted in the United Kingdom shows that poor decision-making by many drivers has lead to severe consequences.  Make sure your fleet drivers know the importance of lawful and safe driving.


    Almost half of drivers are overtaking at dangerous speeds on single carriageway rural roads with disregard for the consequences, research by Brake and Direct Line has revealed.

    Of 942 drivers surveyed, 47% admit speeding at more than 60mph to overtake on country roads at least once in the past year, with 23% confessing doing this at least once a month. Incredibly, one in eight drivers also admit overtaking when they can't see what is coming in the opposite direction.

    The results suggest that drivers continue to feel a false sense of security on rural roads, misguidedly believing that it is safe and enjoyable to drive at high speeds. In reality, drivers are much more likely to die on a rural road than any other type, with speed and overtaking major factors in causing deaths.

    In Britain in 2009, 749 deaths occurred on undivided highways with a speed limit of 60mph - that's a third of all road deaths. Almost a third of people killed on single carriageways with a 60mph limit die in crashes where ‘exceeding the speed limit' and/or ‘traveling too fast for the conditions' are recorded as a factor by police at the scene. Last year an annual review of UK road risk found that the ten roads with the greatest concentration of fatal and serious crashes per kilometer are undivided highways.

    [via FleetNews]

    Photo courtesy of Sheila Scarborough and re-used under the Creative Commons license.

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  • Police vehicle parked outside residenceWe’ve seen that some fleets are cutting their take-home policy to save money, but one city has found a way to keep some police cruisers in the hands of their officers:


    On Jan. 28, Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry announced a change in the City's take-home vehicle policy for the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) that will allow all current officers to take patrol vehicles home no matter where they reside. This reversed a Jan. 1 policy that limited the take-home car program to officers who live within an 11-mile radius from the Big I freeway interchange, according to a release from the mayor's office.


    Officers hired after July 1, 2011 who live outside city limits will not be allowed to take patrol vehicles home.


    The City expected to save more than $600,000 on its take-home car restrictions. After the policy went into effect, the Albuquerque Police Officers Association (APOA) filed suit. The mayor's administration reached an agreement with the APOA that it expects will save taxpayers $1 million; the APOA has dropped its lawsuit.


    In exchange for revisions to the take-home car program, the APOA gave up three major incentives that will save taxpayers millions over the next several years, according to the mayor's office.


    These incentives are retention bonuses for veteran officers costing an estimated $750,000 last year, loan reimbursements costing more than $83,000 last year, and mortgage incentives for signing a seven-year commitment with the APD, which cost $98,000 last year.


    "I am proud of my public safety team who worked tirelessly to come up with solutions that will save millions. This is good for taxpayers and it solves the long term policy issue by prohibiting take-home cars for new officers outside of the City limits," Mayor Berry said.


    [via Government Fleet]

    Photo courtesy of Jim Legans, Jr. and re-used under the Creative Commons license.

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  • Charging Unit for Electronic VehiclesPresident Obama's goal of putting 1 million electric vehicles on U.S. roads by 2015 will be met only if automakers emphasize fleet sales -- to UPS, taxi companies and the like -- over sales to consumers, an analyst said today.


    Consumers will likely be reluctant to buy EVs on that scale because of shortcomings in the nation's recharging infrastructure, said Rebecca Lindland, an analyst with IHS Automotive in Lexington, Mass.


    “There's going to be perpetual range anxiety,” Lindland said in an interview after a speech at the Washington auto show. She was referring to motorists' worries, in the absence of abundant recharging stations, as the battery charge in their vehicle dwindles.


    By 2015, she forecasts, retail sales of the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid will total slightly over 60,000, while those of the Nissan Leaf electric sedan will be about 60,000. While Toyota Motor Corp., Ford Motor Co., Fiat S.p.A and other automakers also are preparing to sell EVs in the United States, their combined sales are still likely to fall far short of Obama's target, Lindland said.


    Automakers should market instead to delivery and taxi companies whose drivers travel short, fixed routes that will not test the limited range of some EVs, she said.


    Find out more at Automotive News.


    Photo courtesy of Kevin Krejci and re-used under the Creative Commons license.

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