• Hyundai Motor America has announced a goal to achieve a corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) of at least 50 miles per gallon by 2025 for its lineup of passenger cars and light duty trucks.

    NHTSA regulations require automakers to achieve a CAFE of 35.5 mpg by 2016. Hyundai had already announced its own plan to reach 35 mpg by 2015 prior to the passing of that legislation.

    "We're committed to setting the pace in this industry on fuel economy, and we're inspired by the possibilities that our advanced Blue Drive technologies afford," said John Krafcik, Hyundai Motor America president and CEO. "Getting to 50 mpg and beyond seems like a huge leap, but by making this commitment and aligning our R&D initiatives now, we know we can get there."

    Hyundai's plan to achieve an average of 50 mpg or better encompasses a full line of products, from small cars to larger family haulers. Hyundai hopes to improve their CAFÉ with improvements and innovation in powertrains including gasoline direct injection, turbocharging, electric hybrids, plug-in hybrids, light-weight materials and design, and more.

    "This is our simple formula for success in the automobile industry," said Krafcik. "Rather than fighting fuel economy regulation, we encourage our Hyundai engineers to deliver more fuel efficiency, faster, accelerating the benefits to our customers, society, and the planet."

    [via Business Fleet]

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  • The state of California passed its law requiring hands-free operation of mobile phones while driving over two years ago, but a recent statement from the California Highway Patrol (CHP) says that many California drivers have been largely ignoring the ban.

    "Many people were accustomed to using cell phones while driving before the law took effect, and it may be difficult for some people to change this practice," said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow. "However, we all need to try hard to obey this law since driving is a complex task, requiring a motorist's full attention. Even a moment of inattention can have disastrous consequences for a driver and those around them." 

    Cell phones are the leading contributing factor to distraction-related traffic accidents in the state of California. According to the CHP's Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System data, since the inception of the hands-free law, there have been more than 1,200 collisions throughout the state where a contributing factor was the driver at fault being distracted by a cell phone. Those same collisions resulted in 16 fatalities and more than 850 victims injured.

    Since the law went into effect in 2008, officers have issued more than 244,000 tickets statewide to motorists who were in violation of the hands-free law. 

    "Too many motorists have been injured or died because of inattention while driving," said Farrow. "Drivers need to put down the phone and focus on driving; otherwise it may cost you your life, or the life of your loved ones." 

    [via Automotive Fleet]

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  • We talk a lot about saving money here at FleetCards USA.  After all, that’s what we’re here for.  But now we’d like to hear a little bit about how average fleets are saving money every day.

    Have you found a new way to save a few dollars on fuel every month?  Has regular maintenance and careful planning brought your fleet’s expenses down? Did one small change in operations have a huge effect on your bottom line? We want to hear about it.  Head to the comments section below and tell us how your fleet has found a way to save money, and we’ll collect it all for a future post letting fleets nationwide know how your hard work has paid off.

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  • Volkswagen of America is offering fleet purchasing incentives on several 2011 models, ranging from $500-$4,000.  Take a look at this list and decide if any of these vehicles could be a new asset to your fleet!

    2011 Model

    Golf GAS (excludes TDI )- $1,250

    Golf TDI Clean Diesel- $500

    Jetta Sedan GAS (excludes TDI)- $1,250

    Jetta TDI Clean Diesel Sedan- $500

    Jetta SportWagen GAS (excludes TDI)- $1,700

    Jetta SportWagen TDI Clean Diesel- $500

    GTI- $1,600

    Eos- $2,750

    CC- $2,750

    Tiguan- $2,000

    Touareg V6 (excludes TDI and Hybrid)- $4,000

    Touareg V6 TDI (excludes Hybrid)- $750

    Routan S- TBA

    Routan SE, SEL and SEL Premium- TBA

    Contact your local Volkswagen fleet representative for further details or call Volkswagen Corporate Fleet at 703-364-7900

    [via Fleet Financials]

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  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will hold its second annual National Distracted Driving Summit on September 21, 2010, in Washington, D.C., according to a press release by the agency.

    U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will gather transport officials, law enforcement, researchers, industry representatives, safety advocates and victims of distraction-related accidents to examine ideas for national efforts to curb distracted driving.  This year’s meeting is being held in hopes of building on the momentum created by the 2009 summit.

    “Working together, we can put an end to the thousands of needless deaths and injuries caused by distracted driving each year,” said Secretary LaHood. “By getting the best minds together, I believe we can figure out how to get people to put down their phones and pay attention to the road.”

    Last year’s summit sparked a flurry of anti-distracted driving efforts, including an Executive Order by President Obama that banned all text messaging in federal vehicles and numerous state texting bans.  The DOT also helped to establish FocusDriven, a non-profit advocacy organization against distracted driving.

    Research by the NHTSA shows that in 2008, nearly 6,000 people died and more than half a million were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver. More than 20 percent of all crashes that same year involved some type of distraction.

    You can read the full press release here or visit www.distraction.gov to learn more about distracted driving.

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  • It seems that the auto industry is finally starting to turn around following the downturn in sales that came with the recession, but that improvement is being driven largely by fleet sales to rental companies and other businesses, according to the Detroit Free Press.

    Fleet sales are up 60% over last year’s numbers, while retail sales are up only 9%.  Auto sales in general have risen 16.7% in the United States so far this year, but little more growth is expected.  One reason for the stall in growth is a resurgence of the luxury car market, in which leasing is a preferred form of ownership.

    And while the increase in fleet sales from major automakers is good for the fleet industry, some say that the rapid expansion of the market could lead to over-saturation and hurt sales in the coming years.  Jesse Toprak, vice president of industry trends for truecar.com, warned against letting fleet sales get too high.  But he does concede that "most automakers have a much better sense of where they need to stand in terms of a healthy fleet and rental mix."

    So if your fleet is looking to replenish as credit becomes more readily available and the industry surges forward, make sure you purchase according to your needs and keep an eye on the market!

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  • Commercial fleets nationwide are still feeling the effects of the recent economic recession.  With money more scarce than it has been in the past, many fleet operators are looking for ways to cut back.  The solution?  Many are hesitant to purchase new fleet vehicles, and those that are purchased are becoming more and more fuel efficient, according to Light & Medium Truck Online.

    In a survey of 53 commercial Fleet managers, Light & Medium Truck found that those managers planned to purchase 6,937 trucks in the coming year, a drop of 22.7% from last year’s figure of 8,978.  The planned number of pickup truck and cargo vans dropped by a little less than 10%.

    The recession has been responsible for many factors leading to this cutting back of spending; fuel prices went up in 2008 followed by a decline in business when hard times hit the average customer in 2009. Consumer demand remains weak, keeping profits down and driving a need for cost savings.

    “We’re looking at leasing versus buying,” said Laura Lueder, public relations manager for MDU Resources Group (No. 10), Bismarck, N.D., a company that provides utility and highway construction services.

    “One of the challenges for us is the increasing cost of [vehicles]. The company is trying to cut back on spending so we can purchase fewer units with the same money.”

    Many fleets are looking at reduced-weight trucks to combat costs, but alternative fuels are also an option, with many fleets investigating compressed natural gas as a viable alternative. 

    Do you have ideas for extra cost savings in these difficult economic times?  Leave us a comment and let us know what you think!

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  • budget cutNew federal vehicle purchases likely will stay the same or decline in coming years as agencies struggle with declining budgets and new requirements to green their fleets, according to Federal Times.

    When stimulus-related purchases are excluded, agencies actually purchased fewer cars in 2009 than in the previous year.

    Bill Toth, director of GSA's Office of Motor Vehicle Management, expects that trend to continue for the foreseeable future.

    Agencies are under increasing pressure to cut fuel consumption and now face a new mandate to cut greenhouse gas emissions from their vehicles. Most also are struggling with flat budgets.

    "With tightening budgets and efforts to streamline transportation...you're going to see fewer cars purchased and fewer cars in the federal fleet overall," he said.

    Toth said he expects agencies will continue to purchase more hybrids in coming years, although not at the inflated levels seen during the past two years.

    Even though hybrids use less gasoline than traditional vehicles, making that upfront investment is difficult for agencies to justify because the money used to purchase vehicles often comes from a different account than the money used to purchase fuel for those vehicles, said Joseph Sikes, director of facilities energy in the Office of the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Installations and Environment.

    "It's easy to make the calculation, but it's harder to fit it into your budget," Sikes said.

    [via Government Fleet]

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  • With several states enacting bans aimed at stopping text messaging behind the wheel, new technology is becoming available to stop the problem at its root by keeping drivers from accessing their phones altogether, according to USA Today.

    Manage Mobility, a technology company based in Alpharetta, GA, has announced a new partnership with Texas-based WebSafety, Inc. to provide technology for businesses and government agencies that will block the inhabitants of moving vehicles from accessing their mobile devices.  The aim of the new systems is to curb texting while driving entirely, since the existing bans are very difficult to enforce.

    Several applications have been developed to prevent drivers from texting.  These applications utilize the GPS locators in most smartphones to determine whether the device is in a moving vehicle and blocks usage once the vehicle registers as going faster than 5 mph.  Ford Motor Company recently said that select 2011 models would include a “Do Not Disturb” feature that will block all incoming cellular transmissions at the push of a button.

    Whether drivers will welcome or reject this new technology remains to be seen, but the dangers of distracted driving are a real threat that requires attention. "We believe that employers are becoming fully aware of the extension of liability" for crashes caused by employees texting while driving, said Rowland Day, CEO of WebSafety, Inc.

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  • Here are some vehicle recalls that you should be aware of this week:

    -Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. announced that Lexus will conduct a voluntary safety recall of approximately 39,000 MY 2003-2007 LX 470 vehicles to address a steering shaft condition. Lexus has determined that the construction of the steering shaft on involved LX 470s is such that the snap ring on the shaft may disengage when the vehicle experiences an unusually severe impact to the front wheels, such as striking a deep pothole. If the snap ring becomes disengaged and the steering wheel is then repeatedly turned to the full locked position, the steering shaft may disengage over time. Detailed information about this recall is available through Lexus Customer Satisfaction at (800) 25 LEXUS or (800) 255-3987 or at http://www.lexus.com/recall.

    -Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. announced it intends to conduct a voluntary safety recall involving approximately 373,000 MY 2000-2004 Toyota Avalons sold in the United States because the vehicle's steering lock bar might break under certain conditions. If the vehicle is steered to the right with sufficient lateral acceleration, a broken and loose lock bar may move toward the steering shaft. If the engagement hole in the shaft happens to line up at the specific time the broken lock bar has moved, this could cause the steering wheel lock bar to engage, locking the steering wheel and increasing the risk of a crash. Toyota will notify vehicle owners of the recall by mail beginning in late August. They can bring their vehicle to a local Toyota dealer for replacement of the steering column bracket at no charge.

    -BMW of North America LLC is recalling more than 6,000 MY 2010 and 2011 5-Series and 5-Series Gran Turismo passenger vehicles because of a fuel gauge problem.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the vehicle's fuel level sensor within the fuel tank can become wedged against the tank. If this occurs, the fuel gauge in the instrument cluster may display a larger amount of fuel than is actually in the tank. This poses a safety risk, if the driver unexpectedly runs out of fuel and the vehicle stops running. Vehicle owners can reach the automaker at (800) 525-7417

    -Subaru of America Inc. is recalling more than 800 MY 2010 and 2011 Outback and Legacy passenger vehicles with manual transmission. Because of a programming error, a lubrication hole within the 6-speed manual transmission was omitted, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. If the transmission gears aren't properly lubricated, a groaning sound may begin to develop. If the driver ignores the sound without taking action, the gears will eventually break. This condition will lead to vehicle power loss, posing a safety risk. This safety recall is expected to begin around Aug. 6.  Vehicle owners can reach Subaru at (800) 782-2783.

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