• Police officers in the Washington, D.C. area have been involved in hundreds of  “vehicular collisions that could have been avoided had the drivers adhered to traffic laws and basic roadway etiquette,” each year, according to a report in the Washington Examiner.

    D.C. police officers were involved in 237 accidents last fiscal year and more than 600 others the prior year, according to the Examiner. 

    “These guys are sometimes the worst drivers out there,” John Townsend, AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman, told the Examiner.

    In fiscal 2009, according to D.C. statistics, District police employees sideswiped vehicles in parking lots, reversed into numerous “fixed objects,” and opened their doors into traffic. They passed and backed up without caution, failed to control speed to avoid colliding, made unsafe U-turns, followed too close, drove on sidewalks, changed lanes without caution, and ran red lights. At least three failed to place their cars in park. One failed to “pay full time attention” as he operated his Segway.

    Fortunately, no fatalities have resulted from any of the accidents this year, according to the Examiner.  

    • Industry News

  • Lincoln recently introducedits firsthybrid – the new 2011Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, expected to deliver 41 miles per gallon (city) when itgoes on sale this fall.

    The midsize sedan hybridjoins Ford’s growing lineup of hybrids thisfall and also complements the automaker’s aggressive global electrificationplan to introduce five new electrified vehicles by 2013.

    The 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybriduses Ford’s second-generation hybrid technology – the 2.5L Atkinson -cycle I-4hybrid engine, named one of Ward’s2010 “10 Best Engines.” The combined gasoline engine and electric motor provide191 net horsepower. The pure electric mode on the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid extends to47 mph.

    Standard features andtechnologies include:

    • SmartGauge with EcoGuide.
    • Lincoln SYNC.
    • 10-Way Power Passenger Seat.
    • Power Driver Memory Seat Settings.
    • Heated and Cooled Front Seats.
    • Reverse Sensing System.
    • Easy Fuel Capless Fuel-Filler.
    • Personal Safety System.
    • MyKey.
    • Integrated Spotter Mirrors.
    • Acoustic Laminated Windshield.

    Photo courtesy of Dream-car.tvunder the Creative CommonsLicense

    • Industry News

  • General Motors will expand use of “enhanced smart pedal” technology globally to all passenger cars with automatic transmissions and electronic throttle control, according to the automaker.

    Also known as brake override, the change involves modifying existing electronic controls to reduce power to the engine in cases where the brake and accelerator pedal are being depressed at the same time. The global rollout will be completed by the end of 2012.

    GM has had a braking performance standard for the past several years that applies to all cars, trucks, and crossovers, requiring that the brakes can stop the vehicle within a specific distance. Brake override is an additional safeguard.

    Would you want this system installed in your fleet vehicles?

    Photo courtesy of williac under the Creative Commons License

    • Industry News

  • Ford and Microsoft are teaming up to help future owners of Ford’s electric vehicles optimize the way they recharge their vehicle and better manage their home’s energy use. 

    The two companies are implementing the Microsoft Hohm energy management application for Ford’s electric vehicles. Ford will first use Hohm with the Focus Electric next year, the automaker said. Hohm will help owners determine when and how to most efficiently and affordably recharge battery electric (BEV) and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) vehicles. It also should help utility companies manage the added demands of electric vehicles on the electric grid. 

    “Ford and Microsoft both share a strong commitment to contributing to a better world. Today, we begin the next major step in our working together and leading the way for energy efficiency and environmental sustainability,” said Alan Mulally, Ford Motor Co. president and CEO. “For Ford, this is a needed step in the development of the infrastructure that will make electric vehicles viable.” 

    Ford today has four hybrids on the road and another coming this year. They include the Ford Fusion Hybrid, Ford Escape Hybrid, Mercury Milan Hybrid and Mercury Mariner Hybrid. Also coming this fall is the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid.

    Photo courtesy of Robert Scoble under the Creative Commons License

    • Industry News

  • An $800 per unit increase infleet-commercial prices and an 18 percent jump in volume helped the autoindustry reach nearly $7.35 billion in fleet-commercial sales in February, upfrom $6 billion a year ago, according to CNWMarket Research.

    “This is occurring in allchannels of the fleet-commercial business. It’s estimated that 11 percent ofall new fleet and commercial vehicles are hybrids or biodiesel models,” Spinellawrote.

    General Motors and Fordreduced their fleet-commercial sales in February, while Chrysler, Toyota, Nissan and Hondaall experienced increases compared to the year-ago period.

    Toyota had the largest increase in marketshare – from 13.92 percent in February 2009 to 16.27 percent in February 2010.The jump reflects a high fleet and commercial demand for the Prius and other Toyota hybrids, whicheased in February due to buyers’ concerns about the manufacturer’ssudden-acceleration issues, Spinella wrote.

    Honda also saw a notablejump in market share, but it was due to higher demand among small and microbusinesses. The manufacturer’s market share was 6.92 percent in February 2010,up from 4.51 percent in February 2009.

    Nissan’s market share was7.51 percent in February 2010, up from 6.29 percent in the year-ago period.

    Photo courtesy of emiliolabrador under the CreativeCommons License

    • Industry News

  • For anyone looking to add work trucks to their fleet, now seems to be the time to do so and help the industry:

    Slow sales continue to plague the commercial truck sector but the consensus among executives from truck equipment manufacturers, suppliers and upfitters contacted is that the downward slide in business has stopped and a slow recovery will begin this year. 

    John Price, owner of Alliance Truck and Equipment,LLC, an equipment distributor and upfitter in Springfield, VA,says that a slow recovery is better than none at all.

     “I do believe it will get better this year,” Price said. “But you know when you stop hitting yourself in the head with a hammer it feels good. That’s where we are right now.”

    The sector will have a longway to go to return to the highs manufacturers and upfitters experienced in 2006. The sales value of all commercial trucks and truck equipment — including chassis, bodies, trailers, assemblies and miscellaneous equipment — fell to $50 billion in 2009, or 61%, from a value of $127.4 billion in 2006, according to estimates from the National Truck Equipment Association.

    “It will take several years for the industry to get anywhere near those numbers again,” said Jim Carney, NTEA executive director. “It appears that truck sales have hit bottom, but going forward how far and how fast can we expect it to rebound? I think what we are looking at is three or four years of slower growth. I am not sure we will hit in the next several years the high sales levels that we saw from 2005-2007.”

    Upfitters and distributors like Alliance and Messer are expecting 2010 to be better than 2008 and 2009, but they are just not sure when it will show up.

    “There is a pent-up demand," said Price of the potential business. “The question is, just when will the customers feel confident enough and have enough cash in their business to spend it?”

    To read more opinions and data on this story, click here

    Photo courtesy of mikelehen under the Creative Commons License

    • Industry News

  • More than half of the taxi cabs on the streets of San Francisco now run on cleaner fuels, according to the San Francisco Examiner.

    After the city passed legislation about two years ago requiring taxicab companies to convert their fleets to hybrids and compressed natural gas vehicles, San Francisco is more than halfway to seeing 90 percent or more of its fleets running on alternative energy, Mayor Gavin Newsom announced March 22. Newsom says he has been “emphatic personally and professionally” about cleaning up San Francisco cabs.

    Fifty-seven percent of San Francisco’s cabs are hybrids or compressed natural gas vehicles, Newsom said.

    San Francisco has leveraged grants to offer to cab companies a $2,000 credit for every renewable-energy vehicle purchased, said Johanna Gregory Partin, director of climate protection initiatives for the Mayor’s Office. The grants, she acknowledged, are running low.  But the $2,000 credit is a boost for companies such as Yellow Cab, which is spending as much as $7,000 more to convert one vehicle.

    Do you think entirely alternative-fueled fleets are a good idea?  Leave us a comment and let us know.

    Photo courtesy of BenFredericson and used under the Creative Commons license.

    • Industry News

  • Fleet Safety: Floods

    Apr 01, 2010

    Automotive Fleet’s Fleet Safety Tip of the Week this week is all about driving in flood conditions.  Pay attention to these hints and be prepared for the spring storm season.

    In light of the devastating flooding taking place in New England, now is a good time to revisit driving tips for flash flood conditions. Less than one inch of water can cause a driver to lose control of a car. And most vehicles can float in two feet of water or less.

    Here’s some timely advice, taken from the Nevada Driver’s Handbook, which you may want to pass along to your fleet drivers as a friendly reminder.

    • If you encounter a flooded roadway, don’t attempt to drive through it. Turn around and seek an alternate route or wait until the water subsides. Although it may look like just a few inches of water on the roadway, you have no idea if the road has washed away underneath providing a hazardous situation for drivers. It is also difficult to determine the depth of floodwaters.
    • If your vehicle stalls in rising flood water, and you can safely do so, abandon it immediately and seek higher ground. Rapidly rising water may engulf the vehicle and its occupants and sweep them away
    • Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.
    • Avoid already flooded areas and areas subject to sudden flooding. Do not attempt to cross flowing streams or water flowing over the roadway.
    • If you are driving and come upon rapidly rising waters, turn around and find another route.
    • Move to higher ground away from streams, creeks and flood control channels.
    • If your route is blocked by floodwaters or barricades, find another route. Barricades are put up by local officials to protect people from unsafe roads. Never drive around barricades. Driving around them can be a serious risk.

    Photo courtesy of Journ and used under the Creative Commons license.

    • Fleet Resources

  • The U.S. Transportation Department is proposing a ban on behind-the-wheel text messaging by interstate commercial truck and bus drivers.

    The proposal seeks to make permanent an interim ban put in place in January by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. The ban would apply to drivers of interstate buses and trucks over 10,000 pounds. Truck and bus drivers who text while driving could be assessed civil or criminal penalties.

    LaHood has been campaigning against texting and cell phone use while driving.

    President Barack Obama signed an executive order last year directing federal employees not to text while driving government-owned vehicles or with government-owned equipment.

    Distracted driving is a factor is 25 percent of reported accidents today.  By putting measures in place to combat texting behind the wheel, costly downtime and personal injury can more easily be avoided.  Make sure your drivers know that messages can wait for their next stop.

    Photo courtesy of RennetStowe and used under the Creative Commons license.

    • Industry News

  • FedEx Corp. unveiled plans to expand its alternative-energy vehicle fleet with the company’s first all-electric parcel delivery trucks in the United States. 

    Four purpose-built electric trucks are slated to hit the road in the Los Angeles area starting in June 2010, joining more than 1,800 alternative-energy vehicles already in service for FedEx around the world. 

    “In 2004, we were the first global company to invest in hybrid-electric commercial trucks, and now we’re introducing the even cleaner all-electric parcel delivery truck,” said John Formisano, vice president of global vehicles for FedEx Express. “We’re making these investments, and invite others to join us, so that together we can speed the transition to a cleaner transportation system.” 

    The trucks will be used for deliveries in the Los Angeles area and will help guide future FedEx vehicle purchases. 

    FedEx currently operates the largest hybrid fleet in the transportation industry, along with one of the largest alternative energy vehicle fleets. The company said it is committed to improving its overall vehicle fuel efficiency 20 percent by 2020.

    For the full story on FedEx’s new vehicles, click here.

    Photo courtesy of shlala under the Creative Commons License

    • Industry News