• Post Office imageThe United States Postal Service is currently looking to cut 120,000 jobs in an effort to keep the struggling agency afloat through 2015, asking Congress to end collective bargaining agreements to allow layoffs. The Post Office has been steadily losing money for years, which has taken a toll on its fleet of mail trucks.

    The Postal Service owns more than 161,000 right-hand drive trucks, another 22,000 left-hand-drive minivans and 3,490 delivery vehicles. These vehicles are nearing the end of a 24-year lifecycle, but replacing them would come at an unreasonable cost. A major replacement or refurbishment of the vehicles would cost about $5.8 billion. With the Postal Service expected to LOSE roughly $7 billion dollars this year, a full replacement is simply not possible.

    The USPS claims that it is continuously repairing its vehicles due to their unavailability on the commercial market, and due to a contractual obligation with rural branches to retain right-hand drive vehicles for letter carriers. But these repairs come with their own costs; repairs on some vehicles in the fleet cost about 1/3 as much as it would have cost to replace them.

    While the Postal Service is also negotiating with Congress to develop a long-term fleet replacement strategy, some members of the House are not pleased with their efforts. Sen. Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.) said “it’s unacceptable that the Postal Service has no official plans to date to begin replacing its aging fleet, perhaps with more fuel efficient and cost effective vehicles.”

    “But it’s also unacceptable that the Postal Service has been placed in this position financially, in part due to acts of Congress,” Carper said in a statement.

    Photo courtesy of Zena C and re-used under the Creative Commons license.


    • FCUSA In the News

  • Fuel saving devices

    When the automobile was first invented, you can bet that there were people already selling accessories the very next day. Today, with consumers more and more concerned about the price of fuel, many opportunistic manufacturers are releasing add-on devices for vehicles that claim to boost fuel efficiency and save money. But do any of these enhancement devices actually work? Aol Autos tested a few popular options in search of answers.

    The results are not exactly surprising, as none of the devices were able to boost performance to a significant degree, with some even HURTING efficiency.  Here is a sampling of some of the technologies tested:

    • Magnetized Line Attachment- Said to keep gasoline from clogging up fuel lines, these devices boast an increase of 5 to 20% in fuel efficiency. But according to the EPA, these products have zero effect of actual fuel economy. Examples include Petro-Mizer, Polarion-X, Super-Mag Fuel Extender, and Wickliff Polarizer.

    • Air Vortex Technology- Some products, such as the Tornado Fuel Saver, claim that their product’s effect on air mixture in the engine can boost mileage and horsepower. However, testing showed that there is no measurable improvement on either.

    • Fuel Additives: These companies claim that simply adding their product to you car’s gas tank will cause fuel to burn more efficiently and increase mileage. The EPA has tested several of these, including Bycosin, El-5 Fuel Additive, and Dyno-Tab Fuel Booster, and found no positive effect.

    Other methods tested included PVC “air bleed” technology, vapor bleed devices, ignition devices, fuel line heaters, metallic fuel line devices and oil additives. You can read the results here.

    When it comes to saving money on fuel, a gimmick is never the answer. The best way is with good fuel management practices, starting with a fuel solution that manages, records and controls your fuel spending. And that’s the truth.

    Photo courtesy of Charles Severance and re-used under the Creative Commons license.
    • FCUSA In the News

  • Fleet Safety

    With fuel costs always climbing, bicycles have become more and more popular as a method of transportation for city-dwellers and even some suburban communities.

    With more and more bicycles on the roads in many cities, it is important for fleet drivers to be aware of the rules involving cyclists. In 2009, 630 bicyclists were killed in the United States, with 51,000 more injured.

    A recent video from safety company Road ID provides a good overview of safety measures for sharing the road with bicycles:

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

    • FCUSA In the News

  • Recall Roundup

    Aug 09, 2011
    Recall Roundup

    Some more vehicles used throughout the fleet industry are under recall, so take a moment to check and see if your company needs to make any immediate repairs:

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced Honda is recalling a total of 1,521,107 MY-2005-2010 Honda Accord, 2007-2010-MY CR-V, and 2005-2008 Element vehicles due to an issue with the automatic transmissions in these vehicles. A broken outer race can cause the malfunction light to turn on, abnormal noise, and allow contact between the transmission idle gear and an electronic sensor housing in the transmission. This can result in a short circuit, which would cause the engine to stall. Also, broken pieces of the outer race or ball bearing can become lodged in the parking pawl. This can result in the vehicle rolling after the driver places the vehicle in park. The recall is expected to begin on August 31.

    Chrysler is recalling a total of 299,718 MY-2008 Town & Country, Voyager, and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans due to an issue with potential inadvertent airbag deployment. NHTSA stated these vehicles can experience a heating and air conditioner (HVAC) condensate leak from the HVAC drain grommet onto the occupant restraint control (ORC) module. This leak can lead to the airbag warning light illuminating and to a potential inadvertent airbag deployment without warning. The recall is expected to begin this month (August 2011.)

    If your fleet operates any of the affected vehicles, make sure you contact the appropriate company promptly.

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

    • Small Business Help Tips

  • Gas price rise

    The recent debt-reduction battle in Washington has sent ripples out through the economy, and fuel prices have been no exception. The U.S. Energy Information Administration‘s weekly update on retail gasoline and diesel prices shows the average retail price of gasoline has increased $3.71 per gallon, the 5th consecutive weekly increase. This price is $0.98 higher than at this same time last year.

    The Midwest saw the largest price increase at 2 cents. The Rocky Mountains saw the same 2-cent increase but had the lowest overall price in the country at $3.55 per gallon. The average price on the U.S. East Coast was up 1 cent. On the West Coast, the price fell to $3.75 per gallon, at the highest average price in the country.

    The average national diesel price dropped for the first time in a month to $3.94 per gallon. The diesel price is $1.01 per gallon higher than at this same time last year, with the biggest drop on the West Coast (4 cents).

    With gas prices still unstable, make sure you’re managing your fleet’s fuel spending properly!


    Photo courtesy of faceless b and re-used under the Creative Commons license.

    • FCUSA In the News

  • A recent video detailing the Distracted Driving incidents faced by two Kentucky Power Company workers sheds new light on the growing problem of distracted driving:

    As you can see, distractions come in a variety of forms on the road, yet the discussion of distracted driving has remained largely defined by cell phone use or texting behind the wheel. Drivers can be distracted at any moment by common occurrences that are found along common routes. Remind your drivers that paying attention doesn’t mean just staying off the phone. They must keep their eyes on the road at all times, avoiding many other distractions:

    • Adjusting the frequency of a CB radio, or even the vehicle’s radio dials

    • Picking up dropped objects from the floor

    • Reaching for objects in the back seat

    • Straining to read billboards or other business signs

    • Changing a CD

    • Searching for documents in the console or glove compartment

    • Eating or drinking

    • Fidgeting with vehicle controls

    • Entering information into GPS systems


    These behaviors and more can take your drivers’ eyes off the road and put them at risk for an accident. Being distracted for even a few seconds can mean your vehicle is barreling down the road for hundreds of feet without a chance to stop or avoid hazards. It is important to stop drivers from texting or talking behind the wheel, but fleet safety goes much further than that. Encourage good driving habits and costly accidents won’t be a part of your fleet budget.


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

    • Fleet Resources

  • IRS Raising Standard Mileage Rates

    Not all driving for business purposes is performed by fleet vehicles; many employees occasionally need to use their personal vehicles for business purposes, with mileage reimbursed at a rate dictated by the government. With fuel costs rising and the economy still in need of some recovery, the IRS is increasing the Standard Mileage Rate for business expenses to 55.5 cents per mile, up from 51 cents per mile.


    The new mileage rate applies to deductible transportation expenses, to mileage allowances paid to an employee, and to transportation expenses paid or incurred by the employee.


    Employers should start using the new rates for reimbursement on July 1, 2011. Any miles accumulated in the first half of 2011 should still be computed at the old rate of 51 cents per mile.


    The mileage deduction rates for miles driven for medical and moving purposes are also being increased from 19 to 23.5 cents per mile. The current deduction rate for miles driven for charitable purposes remains at 14-cents-per-mile.


    Unless the IRS extends the changes, rates will return to the pre-July standards on January 1, 2012.



    Photo courtesy of J Rosenfeld and re-used under the Creative Commons license.

    • Small Business Help Tips

  • Employee fraud fleet risk

    Fuel theft by employee fraud is a serious problem that affects fleets nationwide.  However, many companies remain willfully ignorant of this possible expense.

    It is natural to assume that every driver in your employ is a good, honest person who would never steal from the company, but numbers prove otherwise. Recent research shows that up to 25 percent of all fuel claims could be exaggerated, and that does not even begin to address purchases that are not accounted for at all.

    Drivers may choose to make fraudulent purchases because their company has never detected or punished the practice before, or because the price of fuel has become so high that they cannot afford to fill up their personal vehicles. And the costs don’t just come in small amounts every now and then; one Baltimore public works employee was caught after stealing upwards of $1 million in fuel from the city.

    So how can you tell if your fleet is at risk for fuel fraud, and what can you do to stop it? First, examine the way your drivers pay for fuel:

    •  Does your company require receipts for every purchase? 
    • Do you record every vehicle’s odometer reading at each fill-up? 
    • Do you drivers bring itemized receipts for purchases? 
    • Do you have a system in place to prevent personal vehicle fueling?


    If you answered “no” to any of the above questions, then your fleet is at risk for fuel fraud. The only way to ensure that fraud does not end up costing your business is to catch it immediately.  Make sure that every gallon of fuel is accounted for by your drivers without any room to slip a few gallons here and there. Look out for extra purchases made at service stations such as food and drink, and check fuel consumption against vehicle odometers to see if your drivers are buying more fuel than the vehicle needs.


    Keeping a close eye on your fuel expenses will ensure that your fuel money stays in your tanks and not in your employees’ pockets. FleetCards USA provides a wide variety of purchasing controls and reporting options that can identify fraudulent spending immediately and stop drivers from buying any more fuel than you allow. Visit fleetcardsusa.com for more info on how a fleet card can save you money.


    Photo courtesy of Alberto Alerigi and re-used under the Creative Commons license.


    • Industry News

  • Small business not feeling economic recovery

    The U.S. Bank’s annual Small Business Survey has been released, and it shows that while the economy is getting better for small businesses, many do not consider the hard times to be over:

    The U.S. Bank polled 1,004 small-business owners in April and May in its 25-state footprint.

    The percentage of owners who still feel like the economy is in a recession fell from 89 percent in 2010 to 78 percent this year.

    Sixty-four percent of the respondents reported higher revenues than last year, versus the 55 percent who reported increases from 2009. Still, only 49 percent expect revenues to increase in 2012.

    The mood in Illinois was more pessimistic: 79 percent still feel as if the economy is in a recession, and 60 percent believe the state’s economy is worse than the national economy.

    While 65 percent reported higher revenues than 2010, only 44 percent believe revenues will increase in 2011.

U.S. Bank has 12 branches in the Rock River Valley: eight in Winnebago County and four in Stephenson County.

    Michael Abate, the market president for U.S. Bank in the Rockford area, said his discussions with local businessmen mirror the results of the survey

    “Most of the business owners I talk to will also say that things are coming back very slowly and that has impacted their ability to bring back workers who have been laid off,” he said in an email.

    “There’s a sense that employment levels, while they may improve, will not get back to previous levels for quite some time.

“As bankers, I think now is the time for us to step up our activities with small-business owners to be sure they’re prepared for the recovery, which I think has begun. Loan requests are slightly higher than the last two years, and I think that’s a very good sign.”

    Do you feel like things have gotten better for your business?

    [via Rockford Register Star]


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

    • Industry News

  • Tire Prices to Rise

    Fuel is not the only expense that continues to rise for fleets.  Several major tire manufacturers are set to raise their prices in July, which could put an even bigger strain on fleet budgets:

    Modern Tire Dealer magazine provided an update of upcoming commercial tire price hikes on the horizon, which are listed below.

    Effective July 5, 2011, Toyo Tire U.S.A. Corp. will increase the dealer base price list on commercial truck tires up to an average of 9%.

    Yokohama Tire Corp. will increase its medium truck and commercial light truck tires effective July 1. The hikes will average 8%, with some in-line adjustments.

    Continental Tire the Americas LLC will increase prices on all Continental, General and Ameri*Steel brand replacement commercial truck tires sold in the U.S. by 11% effective July 1, 2011.

    Michelin North America Inc. will increase prices by an average of 12% on Michelin and BFGoodrich replacement commercial truck tires effective July 1. The increase also includes Michelin Retread Technologies retreads sold in the U.S. Michelin also raised prices up to 6% on Michelin brand replacement ag tires sold in the United States and Canada effective July 1.

    Double Coin Holdings Ltd. raised prices up to 6%, effective June 1, on all Double Coin produced radial truck, OTR, crane and industrial tires. That included associate and private brand radial truck tires.

    Falken Tire Corp. raised commercial truck tire prices by up to 10% effective June 1.

    Hankook Tire America Corp. raised prices on its commercial tires, including Hankook and Aurora, effective June 1. The increases were up to 9%.

    Remember, rising costs make good fuel management more important than ever! Protect your fleet’s budget today with a fuel management solution.

    [via Automotive Fleet]


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

    • Industry News