Earth Week 2012 is upon us and many individuals, organizations and companies are stepping up efforts to “go green.”
From a fleet standpoint, reducing your vehicles’ carbon footprints can certainly provide many environmental benefits. But eco-friendly vehicle practices can also significantly reduce your expenses and otherwise contribute to a well-run fleet. The following are a few simple tips to pass along to drivers to help improve your fleet's performance by reducing fuel consumption and emissions:
- Avoid idling when possible. Idling is perhaps the biggest detriment to a vehicle's fuel efficiency, because it causes a vehicle to consume gas without gaining any distance (i.e. zero miles-per-gallon). The larger the vehicle, the more gas is wasted while idling. For certain trucks, for example, one hour of idling can use as much fuel as 30 miles of driving.
- Observe the speed limit. For most vehicles, fuel efficiency begins to decrease significantly at speeds above 60 miles-per-hour, and continues to dip as speed increases further. Also, "flooring" the gas pedal wastes fuel and leads to drastically higher pollution rates. One second of high-powered driving can produce nearly the same volume of carbon monoxide emissions as 30 minutes of normal driving. Driving sensibly not only improves gas mileage, it also reduces the risk of moving violations, accidents and injuries.
- Avoid start-and-stop driving. Try to anticipate stops and let your vehicle ease into a full stop as much as possible. Start-and-stop driving increases pollution, reduces fuel economy and wears on your brakes.
- Reduce vehicle weight when possible. For every extra 100 pounds of weight your vehicle is carrying, its fuel economy is reduced by up to 2%.
- Use the cruise control to sustain speeds over long distances, and employ the overdrive gear at cruising speeds.
- Use the air conditioning as sparingly as possible. Air conditioning reduces fuel efficiency, wears on the engine and acts as a pollutant.
- If you have a garage, use it as much as possible to naturally keep your car warm during cooler months and cool during warmer months. If you park outdoors, windshield shades can cut down on summer heat and reduce frost accumulation in the winter.
- Plan an optimal travel route to conserve fuel. Cutting 20 miles out of your weekly travel can save about $120 a year in gas expenses.
- Keep your vehicle in shape. Adhere closely to your vehicle's maintenance schedule, and make sure any issues with performance and/or failed emissions tests are quickly resolved. Keeping your vehicle properly maintained not only improves fuel efficiency, it also reduces the risk of incurring accidents and more costly repairs down the road.
- Pay attention to your fuel economy. If you notice it consistently regressing without a change in driving habits, it could indicate a problem with your vehicle's engine or brakes. Using this advance warning, you can fix problems before they become more severe or cause a vehicle breakdown.
- Keep your tires properly inflated. Vehicles operated on properly inflated tires are not only much safer, they can also have nearly 6% better fuel efficiency than those operated on under-inflated tires. Tires should be inflated to the pressure recommended for your vehicle; this information is often printed inside the door frame or in your owner's manual. Tires can lose about one pound of pressure in a month, so check the air pressure regularly and always before going on a long trip or carrying heavy loads.
- Use regular gasoline unless your fleet policy says otherwise. High-octane fuels are more expensive and do not necessarily improve fuel economy or performance.
- Don't overfill the gas tank or try to top it off beyond where the automatic nozzle clicks off. Spilled gasoline is a fire hazard and can have other dangerous effects on the environment.
- Patronize gas stations that have vapor-recovery nozzles (black, accordion-looking plastic devices attached to the nozzle) whenever you can to reduce the release of gasoline vapors.
Please keep in mind that the EcoWheels program combines emerging solutions and technologies with proven best practices to help clients reach your reduced emissions goals and understand the relationship between transportation and the environment. The program includes tools that aid in selecting vehicles, changing driver behavior, and reviewing emissions reporting. Please contact a member of your account team or e-mail us at Eco@wheels.com to learn more about how Wheels can help your fleet meet its environmental goals.Back to top
Automakers have reported an industry-wide shortage of railcars across North America.
Railroads, which serve as a secure way to transport large volumes of vehicles, are the primary method used by most auto manufacturers to ship vehicles from their production facilities to dealers and upfitters.
But in the wake of the economic downturn that crested in North America between 2008 and 2009, automakers and railcar providers alike were forced to significantly cut capacity in order to weather the storm. In addition to trimming staff, several railroad companies also put large quantities of railcars into storage or disposed of the surplus units outright.
So when the automotive industry rebounded relatively quickly over the last couple of years, the railroads were generally not in a position to keep up. Though railcar companies have taken some steps to respond to the increased need for vehicle shipments, many simply haven’t rebuilt the capacity necessary to consistently handle the demand. The result has been periodic shipping delays that have impacted the delivery of vehicles for virtually all auto manufacturers.
In addition to limited railcar availability, there are other factors that can impact the delivery timing of vehicles that are shipped via railroad. For example, there are several known “choke points” in the rail system. These choke points are typically in major cities like Chicago and Houston where multiple rail companies converge and railcars are handed off from one company to another.
Inclement weather has also been known to affect the availability and movement of railcars throughout the continent, and has been a major factor in many of the shipping delays experienced over the past 18 months.
Unrelated to railcars, vehicle quality holds by the manufacturers can also slow delivery. Due to stringent quality guidelines, many vehicles are held by manufacturers for final inspection and rework (if necessary) before being released from the production plant. This can potentially cause a buildup of inventory at the assembly plants and outside storage yards, resulting in new vehicle shipping delays.
Manufacturers remain in daily contact with the major railroads as they work to devise plans to improve railcar availability and prioritize the delivery of vehicles. In the meantime, many manufacturers are pursuing alternative shipping options to further mitigate the impact of the railcar shortage. For example, GM has sought “short sea” shipping methods where available, while Ford is utilizing independent carriers in some areas to help ease the backup at rail ramps.
Wheels will continue to monitor the shipment of all vehicles, and we remain in close contact with the manufacturers to keep abreast of any situations that might impact vehicle transportation. We will keep clients informed of any shipping delays affecting your orders.Back to top
Next Friday, April 27, is the final order cutoff date for many 2012 Chrysler sedans, vans and SUVs, including the Chrysler 300, the Chrysler Town and Country/Dodge Grand Caravan, the Dodge Journey and the Jeep Compass.
Clients looking to acquire these or other Chrysler models approaching next Friday’s order cutoff are asked to please submit orders by Thursday, April 26.
Please note that order banks for 2013 versions of many of these models will open on June 6.
A complete list of announced order startup/cutoff dates is available here. It is important to note that all cutoff dates are tentative and subject to change, sometimes with very little notice from the manufacturers. Clients looking to acquire any models approaching cutoff are therefore encouraged submit orders as soon as possible. We recommend you submit orders to Wheels at least two days prior to the cutoff date if possible, to account for processing time.
Please contact a member of your account team if you have any questions about order cutoffs, production startup dates or your vehicle selector.Back to top