•  Via Automotive Fleet:

    Fleet Financials magazine is now accepting nominations for the 2010 Fleet Executive of the Year Award.

    The Fleet Executive of the Year Award was created in recognition of exceptional leadership by senior executives who have made significant contributions to fleet vehicle management. Fleet managers are encouraged to nominate their senior executive responsible for the company’s fleet budget and policies.


    A panel of five industry judges will evaluate criteria submissions including cost-saving initiatives, policy setting, creation of innovative programs and cultivation of fleet manager training and management.


    Nominations are due no later than Friday, Jan. 29.


    To make a nomination, click here


    Past winners include 2009 winner Satish Natarajan, ARAMARK and 2008 winner Pete Silva, PepsiCo.

    • Fleet Resources

  • CleanFUEL USA has announced the debut of its latest liquid propane injection (LPI) system, now for the General Motors 6.0 liter engine.  The new system will first be available in Q1 2010, with the company already taking orders in response to a growing demand for greener fleet vehicles.  This move comes just as the Department of Energy starts to award stimulus funds this December.


    Under the 2009 American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, propane-related projects were one of the largest beneficiaries of government alternative fuel grants, receiving $33.5 million. CleanFUEL USA was awarded $12.9 million from the DOE to establish 186 state-of-the-art propane refueling stations in major cities across the U.S. The first station will be located in Houston.


    “Alternative-fuel vehicle projects provisioned by the DOE are helping to propel the propane industry into a new phase, while CleanFUEL USA’s new engine system provides a clean, high-performance option to make greener fleets a reality,” said Brian Feehan, vice president of the Propane Education & Research Council.


    The new system is an OEM replacement for new gasoline engines and is designed to convert light-duty fleets such as passenger vans, shuttle buses, walk-in vans, and utility and service vehicles to operate on propane. CleanFUEL USA’s advanced LPI technology provides the same horsepower, torque and performance as gasoline-powered engines, yet produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions.  The system will be available through CleanFUEL USA Master Dealers and Preferred Installers.


    “We’ve seen an increased interest in propane-powered vehicles as many of our customers look for greener and more cost-effective fleet transportation options,” said Chris Weiss, vice president of engineering at Knapheide Manufacturing. “The CleanFUEL USA 6.0L LPI system is an alternative-fuel solution to address these growing demands, and its innovative design is specially optimized for increased engine efficiency that can double engine life and significantly reduce maintenance costs for our customers.”


    Photo courtesy of tim.perdue under the Creative Commons License.

    • Industry News

  • According to the Flint Journal. the Genesee County Road Commission has begun an initiative to brand every tire it buys for its vehicle fleet with a serial number in an effort to prevent tire thefts.


    The branding effort is part of a strategy  officials say is being made to prevent future thefts of tires and other equipment, the Journal reported. Last week, Road Commission Chairman David Miller and Vice Chairman James Pomeroy told the county Board of Commissioners about seven policy changes to deal with ongoing theft problems, including the serial number branding plan, but have yet to discuss the scope of internal thefts at the road agency or how the thefts occurred.


    In late October, the Road Commission suspended one employee without pay and turned an internal investigation of tire thefts over to the Michigan State Police.


    In addition to branding each tire with a permanent serial number in the future, the Road Commission said other steps are being taken, at an estimated cost of $50,000, to protect tires and equipment stored in its Flint garage, including the installation of a computer coded gate at the garage and additional security cameras, and the assignment of a single supervisor to oversee tire security and to supervise maintenance workers during tire replacement operations.


    An MSP official said that the tire theft investigation at the Road Commission is continuing.


    Is your fleet protected against theft?


    Photo courtesy of Ziggit under the Creative Commons License.

    • Industry News

  • In the growing world of fleet telematics, location-based technologies are becoming more important than ever.  Now FedEx is joining the new electronic fleet era with a new tracking system for its customers.


    To more precisely track individual shipments in transit, FedEx Corp. is rolling out a new service next year dubbed SenseAware, which will combine a GPS sensor device and a web-based collaboration platform in one package.  The new service will become available in the spring of 2010.


    A small sensor placed inside of each package works as a multi-modal tracking and tracing solution that spans multiple transportation connections, providing customers with a real-time view of the location of their package and insight into the entire shipping process.


    FedEx said it has received permission from the Federal Aviation Administration for SenseAware to be used during flight on FedEx aircraft and will allow FedEx customers to monitor in-transit conditions during the ground transportation leg of such shipments as well, such as precise temperature readings; a shipment’s exact location; when and if  a shipment is opened or if the contents have been exposed to light; plus real-time alerts regarding the above vital signs of a shipment.


    “One of the basic needs we saw was a sensor-based logistics industry that wasn’t solidifying as quickly as we thought it should around useful sharing of sensor information,” said Robert Carter, FedEx executive VP & CIO. “We developed a point-of-view that sharing sensor information dynamically and in useful ways with supply chain partners proved too difficult, so we attacked this on a number of fronts and the result is SenseAware.”


    Is your fleet making the most of telematics?



    Photo courtesy of Drewski2112 underthe Creative Commons License.


    • Industry News

  • According to the U.S. Internal Revenue Code (IRC), Section 179, a taxpayer may elect to treat the cost of any qualifying property as an expense, rather than a depreciable capital asset. Using this tax code provision, business owners may be able to deduct the full purchase cost of a qualifying work truck (GVWR = 14,000 lb. or more), up to the $250,000 limit applicable to tax years 2008 and 2009. The deduction must be taken in the year the vehicle is placed in service. For tax year 2010, the maximum deduction is scheduled to revert to the 2007-level of $125,000.


    Time is short, but the potential benefit is large. Those considering the purchase of a new commercial truck should certainly consider the tax implications of buying this year versus postponing the purchase until next year or later.


    IRC Section 179 contains a number of limitations and provisions that may affect the extent to which any business can deduct any specific purchase. Consequently, business owners should consult their own tax advisers and accountants regarding their individual situation and the applicability of IRC 179 to it.


    Now may be the time to replenish your fleet!


    Photo courtesy of Cowgirl Jules under the Creative Commons License.

    • Industry News

  • Toyota is still working on a solution to the issue of floor mats causing its accelerators to stick, causing that pesky “unintended acceleration” that can really put a damper on anyone’s drive.  The automaker has been working closely with the National Highway Traffic Safety Association to come up with a permanent solution for the growing problem.  Toyota recently published a statement saying that it would “take a closer look at the potential for an accelerator pedal to get stuck in the full open position due to an unsecured or incompatible driver’s floor mat.”


    Inside Line and Kyodo News are reporting that Toyota may be close to announcing that they will replace the gas pedals of the four million vehicles affected by the recall with shorter ones.


    The fix would be provided by Toyota dealerships at no charge to the customer.  Swapping out four million accelerator pedals could prove to be a pricey solution, but Toyota claims it has saved up to $5.6 billion dollars in its recall funds over the years for just such an occasion.


    Have you or your drivers noticed acceleration problems with any Toyotas in your fleet?


    Photo courtesy of mary2678 under the Creative Commons License.

    • Industry News

  • A while ago, we took a look at new contenders to the retiring Crown Victoria’s throne as the country’s number one police cruiser.  Now it looks like Ford is not ready to step down just yet.  The Ford Motor Company has announced that it will produce a completely new purpose-built Police Interceptor specially engineered to replace the Crown Vic in 2011.


    Ford’s new interceptor is being developed in conjunction with the company’s Police Advisory Board, which has spent the last14 months providing input on the attributes necessary to a quality law enforcement vehicle, such as safety, performance, durability, driver convenience, and comfort.  The new Police Interceptor will be offered to law enforcement agencies as soon as the Crown Victoria goes out of production in late 2011.


    The new vehicle is designed to provide municipalities with reduced ownership costs through improved quality, durability, and fuel efficiency.

    “Ford’s commitment to the law enforcement community produced the Crown Victoria, the benchmark police vehicle,” said Lt. Brian Moran, fleet manager, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and a member of Ford’s Police Advisory Board. “This commitment has continued, and Ford has been working closely with the Police Advisory Board on developing the new Police Interceptor. I am confident that the next-generation Ford police vehicle will meet the future needs of the law enforcement community and will set the new standard.”


    Ford plans to reveal the new model and provide full vehicle specifications in the first quarter of 2010 – in time for law enforcement agencies, police equipment manufacturers, and upfitters to develop a transition plan from the Crown Victoria to the new product.


    Photo courtesy of wastemanagementdude under the Creative Commons License.

    • Industry News

  • General Motors is reporting that better-than-expected results from the third quarter of 2009 will allow it to begin repaying government loans sooner than originally planned.


    Although GM posted a $1.2 billion loss since emerging from bankruptcy, sales have increased enough to make paying for the automaker’s debt more immediately feasible. GM received $6.7 billion in loans from the U.S. Treasury as part of its bankruptcy proceedings, along with help from Canada and Ontario. But this is only a fraction of the $50 billion in help GM received from U.S. taxpayers since the end of 2008.


    GM announced on Monday that the company anticipates paying $1 billion to the U.S. Treasury in December, along with an additional $192 million to the Canadian and Ontario governments.  The U.S. government now owns a majority stake in GM, but taxpayers are unlikely to see a return on the investment.


    GM president and chief executive officer Fritz Henderson told reporters Monday morning that the third quarter results represented “some signs of progress, some signs of stability,” but that ultimately they were “not satisfactory.”


    By comparison, Ford and Toyota both reported unexpected quarterly profits during the same period.


    Henderson claims that GM intends to fully pay its debt to the United States government as early as June 2010. He said, however, that the timing of such an offering would depend on the state of the stock market as well the company and industry’s performance.


    Photo courtesy of lunasYongXin under the Creative Commons License.

    • Industry News

  • Los Angeles’ West 3rd Street is a popular destination for its many gourmet restaurants, trendy boutiques and premium shopping experiences.  But there has always been a major problem for visitors: parking.  Now L.A. City Councilman Paul Koretz and the West 3rd Street Business Association are launching a public valet service on November 28th to eliminate parking woes.


    “Customers have told us, we love your street, but we don’t love the parking situation,” said Deborah Wolsh, owner of Ethel Boutique. “So we and the Office of Councilman Koretz created this service to make it as easy as possible for our customers and neighbors.”


    A study of the district identified hundreds of unused off-street parking spaces at times when West 3rd Street’s parking meters were full.  The public valet will park visitors’ cars in these spaces, which will continue to be privately owned.


    The program also seeks to remedy concerns among local officials that some parking operators may be creating problems for customers, businesses and neighbors.


    “Unfortunately, some valets have abused the public parking meters and loading spaces. This causes congestion, hazardous conditions and frustration from customers searching for parking on nearby streets. The new service is going to make parking easier for motorists, and life better for local residents,” said Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz, 5th District.


    The public valet parking will begin on November 28, 2009 from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. and operate only Saturday and Sundays through December 27th. The program will launch full time, seven days per week soon after the New Year.


    The valet parking service charge will be $3.50 until 5:00 p.m. which is less than the charge for two hours at most area parking meters. After 5:00 p.m. the fee will be $5.00 at selected locations. These rates are roughly 30 to 50 percent less than the existing, independent valet services currently operating in the area.

    • Industry News

  • According to a report from WRAL.com, North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perduesaid Tuesday that rules governing how state agencies lease vehicles need to be reworked to avoid wasteful spending. Some agencies have paid millions of dollars for miles they did not drive, and others had questionable record-keeping practices.


    State agencies lease their fleet vehicles from the North Carolina Motor Fleet Management Division, which is fully funded by the fees collected on the vehicles. By law, the division charges for a monthly minimum of 1,050 miles on each vehicle to cover maintenance, insurance and gas for more than 8,500 state-owned vehicles. If vehicles are driven more than 1,050 miles in a month, the agency must pay extra. If cars travel less than 1,050 miles, agencies must still pay the minimum rate.


    Over the past year, the unused miles have added up due to the Governor’s orders to cut travel expenses due to a record budget shortfall. From July 2008 to June 2009, the state Department of Correction spent $1.7 million on parked cars. More than half of the state Department of Health and Human Services vehicles drove under the minimum mileage, costing the agency more than $1 million.


    Gov. Perdue said agencies could end up returning several vehicles to Motor Fleet Management and having their employees share vehicles to recoup the costs. She also said the law regarding usage of state-owned vehicles might need to be updated.


    The motor fleet statute that covers mileage was adopted in 1981 and has never been changed. By law, Motor Fleet Management is limited in its oversight. Once an agency rents a vehicle, the division can’t take it away as long as the bills are being paid.


    Photo courtesy of lastdue under the Creative Commons License.

    • Industry News