• Vehicle resale values continued to show resilience last week and have remained mostly consistent for the past three moths, reports Black Book managing editor Ricky Beggs.

    Of the 14 truck segments that Black Book studies, only two have experienced any loss of value, with the overall movement of value remaining positive for the past 17 weeks.

    Car values also remained strong, with only 1 of 10 segments decreasing in price overall.  Beggs says that the last three months have showed an upward trend in car values. “The bottom line,” Beggs said, “is the auction activity has solid buyer interest with a few models being extremely strong.”

    Though a sharp decline has been averted, Beggs cautions that a brief slowdown will strike wholesale demand with the effects of Cash for Clunkers finally disappearing.

  • Mitsubishi is recalling nearly 7,000 model-year 2008-2009 Lancer Evolution, Ralliart, and Sportback Ralliart vehicles with turbocharged engines.

    The connection between the fuel return pipe and the engine, coupled with the frequency of operation at certain engine revolutions, may cause a stress crack to develop at the fixed portion of the fuel pipe over time.  The fault is confirmed by the NHTSA.

    If a stress crack develops in the pipe, fuel leakage can occur and increase the risk of engine fire.

    As part of the recall, the fuel return pipe will be replaced with a brand-new part and equipped with additional brackets to better control vibrations on the pipe.  The repair will be performed free of charge.

    The recall is set to begin around September 29th.  To contact Mitsubishi about this issue, call (888) 648-7820.

    Photo courtesy of viZZZual.com under the Creative Commons License.
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  • Chrysler has announced that it will be offering fleet incentives on several 2010 Chrysler, Jeep, and Dodge vehicles for the 2010 model year. Incentives range from $500 to $3,000.

    2010 Fleet Incentives:

    • Charger (Including AWD, excluding SRT models) – $2,000
    • Chrysler 300 (Including AWD, excluding SRT models) – $2,000
    • Chrysler PT Cruiser – $2,000
    • Chrysler Sebring Convertible – $2,000
    • Chrysler Sebring Sedan – $2,000
    • Chrysler Town & Country – $2,000
    • Dodge Avenger Sedan – $2,000
    • Dodge Caliber (Excluding SRT Models) – $1,000
    • Dodge Dakota – $3,500
    • Dodge Grand Caravan (Including CV) – $2,000
    • Dodge Journey – $1,500
    • Dodge Nitro – $2,000
    • Dodge Ram 1500 Regular/Quad/Crew Cab – $2,000
    • Dodge Ram 2500/3500 Regular/Quad/Mega Cab – $1,000
    • Dodge Ram 3500/4500/5500 Chassis Cab – $3,000
    • Jeep Commander – $3,000
    • Jeep Compass – $1,500
    • Jeep Grand Cherokee 4×2, 4×4 – $3,000
    • Jeep Liberty 4×2, 4×4 – $2,000
    • Jeep Patriot – $1,500
    • Jeep Wrangler Base & Sahara 4×2, 4×4 – $1,000
    • Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4×2, 4×4 – $500

    For further details and eligibility requirements, contact your local Chrysler dealer or call (800) 999-FLEET.

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  • On Tuesday, we told you about some free web seminars on fleet safety.  Now, FleetMentor is joining the club with a series of webcasts designed to streamline fleet management while improving motor carriers’ bottom line.

    J.J. Keller, the provider of FleetMentor’s “online toolbox,” will host the series, which kicks off on Wednesday, October 18th with “Management Controls for Hours of Service.” The program will detail how to identify trends and creating procedures to stay in compliance with HOS regulations.

    On Tuesday, November 24th, the next installment of the series, “Driver Qualification Open Forum,” will address the issue of making sure drivers are qualified. This forum, in an open format with an extended question and answer session, will review DOT rules and cover the basics of driver qualification.

    The final program, taking place on December 30th will focus on lowering insurance costs for fleets. Entitled “How to make yourself a low-risk carrier,” the focus will be on how your safety record identifies you as a carrier. It will look at current regulations and practices you can implement to improve your safety record.

    All of the webcasts will take place at 2 p.m. EDT.  To register for the webcasts, visit www.fleetmentor.com

    Photo courtesy of GIHE under the Creative Commons License.

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  • After a hiatus of more than a year, Chrysler is ready to resume leasing vehicles starting with the 2010 model year.

    “We are pleased to re-enter the leasing market so we can offer customers the opportunity to lease vehicles at rates competitive with the marketplace,” said Peter Fong, head of sales and chief executive of the Chrysler car brand. “Our ability to offer additional financing options will benefit consumers who have long been fans of leasing and appreciate the flexibility this financing option gives them.”

    Chrysler Financial stopped offering leases in August 2008 due to tight credit markets and heavy losses on existing SUV leases caused by a decline in popularity.  The increased difficulty of leasing cars led to lower sales for Chrysler. Leasing is a popular method of acquiring a vehicle because it allows consumers to make lower monthly payments despite being less cost-effective in the long term.

    Leasing was never a huge part of Chrysler’s business, but generally made up 10% to 15% of the company’s sales, said Jesse Toprak, a sales analyst for the auto pricing site Truecar.com.

    “We have seen some of those customers go to other manufacturers because of Chrysler not offering leasing,” he said.

    Former GM financing arm GMAC Financing Services will now be handling leasing services for Chrysler.  GM has also just recently begun offering leasing after dropping out last year for practical purposes during its bankruptcy.

    Leasing will be available on all 2010 Chrysler, Jeep, and Dodge vehicles.

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  • Toyota Motor Sales USA is issuing a warning to consumers about the risks of installing the wrong floor mats in their vehicles.

    Toyota decided to make the issue a priority after an August incident in which a California Highway Patrol officer and three members of his family tragically lost their lives on a highway near San Diego.  The victims were driving a 2009 Lexus ES350 loaned to them by a local dealer.  Law enforcement investigators concluded that the cause of the accident may have been an all-weather floor mat from a different Lexus model.  If the mat was installed incorrectly, then it could have interfered with the operation of the accelerator and caused the deadly crash.

    All-weather mats are often installed as an accessory item either by dealers or consumers. Any after-market floor mat has the potential to interfere with the accelerator pedal if the mat is not properly secured or if it isn’t the factory-installed mat for that vehicle.

    “We are instructing all of our Lexus and Toyota dealers to immediately inspect their new, used, and loaner fleet vehicles, and we urge all other automakers, dealers, vehicle owners, and the independent service and car wash industries to assure that any floor mat, whether factory or aftermarket, is correct for the vehicle and properly installed and secured,” Toyota said in a released statement.

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  • The Truckload Carriers Association is honoring Anderson Trucking Service driver Larry Goessens with its “Highway Angel” award after helping motorists in need on a cold night.  On February 4th, two sisters driving on Interstate 64 in Kentucky suffered a tire blowout.  Due to the heavy snow that was falling at the time, the car immediately slid off the road.  To make matters worse, the spare tire in the trunk of their car was flat as well.

    Goessens witnessed the incident and stopped his truck to help the stranded women.  He managed to pull the car out of the roadside ditch and drove all the way to the next town to have the spare tire repaired.  He then returned to the scene of the accident and replaced the flat tire with the newly-fixed spare.

    Rhonda Davis, the driver of the vehicle, was amazed by Goessens’ random act of kindness. “This may not be a big deal to some people, but you would not believe how many people just drove right by me, standing on the side of the road,” she wrote in a letter to Goessens’ employers. “It was snowing to beat the dickens, and I am an old lady! … It was as if God himself sent this man to help me.”

    “It seems like today’s truck drivers get such a raw deal that I felt it was important for me to write this letter and let you know just how important the good ones really are,” Davis wrote. “He froze his rear-end off changing that tire for us … and he wouldn’t let me pay him for his time and trouble. … Truckers are so underappreciated that I have a newfound respect for them and the vital services they provide for our great country.”

    Goessens will receive a commemorative pin, patch, and award certificate from the TCA for his heroic actions.  Anderson Trucking Service will also receive a certificate acknowledging that one of its drivers is a certified Highway Angel.

    Photo courtesy of ishrona under the Creative Commons License.

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  • A coalition of 17 diverse groups including shippers, transportation providers and government agencies is calling for an addition to the Surface Transportation Authorization Act of 2009 now up for debate in Congress.  The proposed change is to create a cohesive national freight strategy to be implemented over the next six years.

    At a news conference this week, the Freight Stakeholders’ Coalition stressed that a high priority must be given to significant investments in the nation’s freight transportation system. The representatives in attendance represented trucking companies, railroads, ports, shippers, and state department of transportation agencies.

    The group claims that without significant improvements to freight infrastructure, all modes of shipping freight will deteriorate and the U.S. will pay the price in both domestic prosperity and international competitiveness.

    “There is an awful lot at stake here and we’ve got to continue our efforts to elevate freight [needs] to a higher level in the debate over the reauthorization bill,” said Joni Casey, president &d CEO of the Intermodal Association of North America (IANA). “That’s why it’s so important for Congress to act now on the [reauthorization] bill and not revert to stop-gap funding.”

    “Freight is an issue that should be at the top of the nation’s priority list – but it is not,” stressed Janet Kavinoky, director of transportation infrastructure for U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “No matter the differences among industries as to what needs the most funding, we all recognize 18 months is too long to wait to pass a reauthorization bill. What do we need more time for? There’s enough information out there about what we need to do to fill this room 10 times over.”

    An 18-month extension of federal highway programs by the Obama administration, says Kavinoky, shows that freight issues are a high priority for the President.

    “The only thing we need time for is to make transportation and freight policy a priority,” she said. “…We’ve spent the last four years hammering out transportation and freight issues for this highway bill – now it is time for us to multi-task.”

    “States would love to get a bill done; we’re in favor of substantive transportation change, but want to do it thoughtfully while creating a stable source of funding for it,” said Allen D. Biehler, P.E.

    Photo courtesy of richardsinyem under the Creative Commons License.

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  • At the 41st annual Automotive Fleet & Leasing Association (AFLA) conference this week, industry analyst and host of Autoline Detroit John McElroy told those in attendance that reduced capacity, increased demand, and changes in the marketplace will “perfectly align” for American automakers in the next five years.

    McElroy gave a presentation at the conference entitled “The Golden Years in the U.S. Auto Market, 2010-2015”, which outlined the positive impacts of the economic downturn on the future of the auto industry.  He believes that a pent-up demand from harder times will create such a buyer rush that automakers will no longer need to offer incentives to customers, leading to higher profits along with the increased sales.  McElroy suggested that Ford would first see massive profits, followed by GM and Chrysler.

    While the financial misfortune of the Big Three had a terrible impact on their business, McElroy says that the same situation created several positive conditions that will lead to recovery.  He cited lower labor costs, elimination of excess capacity, and lower break-even points as indicators that the automakers will have greater success in the future.

    The market itself has also shifted, according to the presentation.  Environmental regulations have begun to force consumers away from large trucks and SUVs toward smaller cars.  Prices on these new vehicles may rise up to $5,000 per unit to make up for the loss of profits from fewer truck sales and the costs of new technology.

    The used car market, he said, is set to experience a “boom time” in the coming years as the number of used vehicles available declines due to fewer trade-ins.  Other factors include reduced rentals and fleet sales.

    Whether McElroy’s predictions are accurate will have to be seen over the next few years, but an upturn for the auto industry would certainly be a welcome change.

    Photo courtesy of nDevilTV under the Creative Commons License.

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  • Brought to you by Automotive Fleet and the other subsidiary sites of fleet-central.com , these free safety seminars are now open for registration. The topics covered will be at-fault accidents, driver distraction, and brake safety.  A description of each individual course appears below. Fleet managers only need to sign up once to receive all three seminars!

    Fleet Safety Webinar Series

    Click here to sign up for the webinar series
    Prevent and Predict At-Fault Crashes
    September 22, 2009 11:00AM PDT / 2:00PM EDT

    Sponsor: Driver’s Alert
    As a fleet manager or safety director, you know 95% of your drivers practice safe driving and that the other 5 percent are at high risk to cause your next at-fault crash. Find out how many of your drivers are in the bottom 5% and how to prevent the at-fault crash from ever happening.

    Distracted Driving: Dangers and Defenses
    October 13, 2009 11:00AM PDT / 2:00PM EDT

    Sponsor: DriverCare Risk & Safety Services by CEI
    Distracted driving is a serious and growing problem for fleets and the public at large. Gain valuable knowledge about the sources of distracted driving, its impact on crashes, fatalities and fleet finances, and a range of proactive responses. This webinar will be a practical discussion between a subject matter expert from the National Safety Council and two leading fleet managers from the commercial and public sectors, who will share their real-world experiences and insights in dealing with the problem. Topics will include the science of distracted driving, programs to raise drivers’ awareness, legislative initiatives, and emerging technologies.

    Are You Helping to Keep Your Drivers Safe? How Good Are Your Brakes?
    November 10, 2009 11:00AM PDT / 2:00PM EDT

    Sponsor: Midas
    Learn how brake systems work, how they have changed, and how they affect and are affected by other vehicle safety systems. Gain knowledge on how to identify potential issues which could eventually lead to extensive and expensive repairs. Understand how utilizing M.A.P. (Motorist Assurance Program) can help fleet managers make better informed decisions on whether or not to keep the vehicle in service based on known upcoming service needs.

    Sign up now!!

    Photo courtesy of aNantaB under the Creative Commons License.

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