Manage your Costs through Driver Behavior, Alt Fuels, CNG Rentals

Fluctuating fuel prices remain a hot topic among commercial fleets and consumers alike. High fuel prices are adversely affecting all areas of the transportation sector – trucking, airlines, and fleet – which is then reflected in other areas of the business that either need to find a way to cut back or pass those costs down to the consumer.

It’s definitely a topic high on our radar list. We’re continually looking for information to pass along that can help you manage your costs and plan for the near and long term – everything from current and trending prices, to alternative solutions, to the latest industry technology.

Below are a few items that we have found useful and interesting in the past couple weeks:

Driver Behavior
Changing individuals’ behavior behind the wheel continues to be the number one way to create significant change. The Mineta Transportation Institute’s recent report, “Ecodriving and Carbon Footprinting: Understanding How Public Education Can Result in Reduced Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Fuel Use,” showed that “people did reduce their driving speeds after exposure to ecodriving information.” Ecodriving – as defined in the report – is the “concept of changing driving behavior and vehicle maintenance to impact fuel consumption and emissions.” The report goes on to say, “Study participants also noted that tips about changing their driving behavior were more practical to implement than vehicle maintenance tips.” We agree! Our GreenDriver® program and DriverPoint™ Telematics address the issue of driving behavior and monitoring – two of your best tools when trying to create change.

Alternative Fuels
According to the USA National Gas Price Heat Map (accessed here), today’s gas prices near the Donlen office are about $4.29. CNG (compressed natural gas) for the same area average about $2.66. A significant difference, and companies are taking note. On Tuesday, Frito-Lay announced their plans to add 67 trucks that run on CNG, which, according to a spokesman, would save the company “about 900,000 gallons of diesel fuel annually.” Their longer term plans include adding more CNG and LNG (liquefied natural gas) vehicles to the fleet.

The Hertz CNG rental vehicles were on display recently at the Chesapeake Energy Arena, in conjunction with Oklahoma City Thunder’s Green Week.

And what if you or your employees could rent a CNG vehicle on the next trip out of town? This week, Hertz announced that CNG vehicles will be available for rent beginning in May at Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City. This is the first time CNG vehicles have been available for rent from an airport. Donlen played a key role in developing this program. “This initiative is a great example of what can happen when industry leaders collaborate to create meaningful change,” said Gary Rappeport, Donlen CEO. “Natural gas vehicles play an important part in the future of fleet and mobility solutions as companies look toward achieving their sustainability and operational goals. Together, Hertz and Donlen are investing in programs like this to change the landscape of available transportation solutions.”

Manufacturers continue to look at vehicle options as a way of improving fuel economy and reducing emissions. Chrysler has introduced the first factory-direct pickup truck to run on gas and CNG. The Ram starts on gas, then switches to CNG automatically, with an estimated 255 miles while in CNG mode. Last week, more than 100 reps from Ford fleet dealerships gathered to learn more about natural gas vehicles. In a post by CNGnow, the author states that, “Growing use of CNG in fleets generally means more fueling infrastructure available to the public. Fleet managers help raise awareness for the cleaner-burning American fuel among automakers.”

In the news this week was the agreement between Ford and Dow Chemical to jointly research advanced carbon fiber composites that would reduce weight to improve fuel economy. Ford has a goal to reduce vehicle weight by 750 pounds by 2020. A Ford spokesman said, “Reducing weight will benefit the efficiency of every Ford vehicle. However, it’s particularly critical to improving the range of plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles.” In other news, BMW and Toyota have finalized their agreement to develop next-generation lithium-ion batteries for use in hybrid-electric and full-electric vehicles.

Coming to the NAFA Expo? Be sure to visit us at Booth 1433, April 21-24. Fleet experts from Donlen and Hertz will be on hand to discuss how we can help you meet the growing challenges of fleet management head on with industry-leading products and services. The expo floor is sold out, so this promises to be an event you don’t want to miss! Get your FREE PASS (PDF) to the show floor and keynote session. Then come and talk to us about your car, truck, or specialty equipment needs. Just look for the booth with the Tesla Roadster in it!

Driver’s Corner

1…2…3…4…5… The next time you’re behind the wheel of your vehicle and the car in front of you passes an object, count how long it takes for you to pass that same object. If it’s fewer than five seconds, you may be following too closely. By keeping a safer distance, your chances of having to stop suddenly decrease – reducing the risk of an accident and increasing your overall MPG. And that’s good for the environment and the bottom line.

And Finally…

And finally, auto manufacturers spend countless hours designing vehicles that are lightweight and aerodynamic in order to obtain better gas mileage. Words like “coefficient of drag,” “wind tunnels,” and “air resistance” come to mind when discussing modern-day aerodynamics. But wanting to develop more aerodynamic vehicles is nothing really new. Just check out this 1914 A.L.F.A. 40/60 HP Aerodinamica Prototype. The teardrop-shaped vehicle could get up to 86 mph! My, we’ve certainly come a long way. Wonder what that drag coefficient is?

Have a nice weekend. Safe travels.

Originally appeared in FridayFleet on April 20, 2012

About Donlen
A wholly owned subsidiary of The Hertz Corporation (NYSE:HTZ), Donlen (, with headquarters in Northbrook, IL, is the fleet industry’s most comprehensive and integrated provider of financing and asset management solutions. Since 1965, Donlen has offered its clients highly personalized and responsive customer service, and their workplace excellence has been recognized as one of Crain’s Chicago Business “List of 20 Best Places to Work in Chicago” each year from 2009-2011, a Leader on “The Global Outsourcing 100®” list by the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals (IAOP) for six of the last seven years, and a National Association for Business Resources “101 Best and Brightest Places to Work For in Chicago” each year from 2007-2012. Donlen’s innovation has been awarded with the Computerworld “2012 Honors Laureate for Economic Opportunity,” named to “2012 InformationWeek 500” for innovative technology; the Stevie® “2012 Gold Award for Business Intelligence Solution,” the Silver Award for “2012 Front Line Customer Service Team of the Year,” and the “2011 Corporate Environmental Responsibility Program of the Year.”