March 2006

FEDERAL ISSUES

DOT Announces New MPG Goals for Future Light Trucks

On March 29, Transportation Secretary Norman E. Mineta announced a series of new fuel economy standards for light trucks that are scheduled to become effective in 2011, resulting in an estimated 11 percent increase in fuel economy for certain minivans, pickup trucks, and SUVs over the next 5 years.  

During the press conference in which the new standards were announce, Mineta told a Baltimore, Maryland audience that, “The new standards represent the most ambitious fuel economy goals for light trucks ever developed in the program’s twenty-seven year history.  And more importantly, they close loopholes that have long plagued the current system.” 

Mineta estimated that the new rules would save up to two billion more gallons of fuel than an earlier proposal released by the Department in August 2005, by including the largest SUVs (such as the Hummer H2) and strengthening the final miles per gallon target.  The new standards also set individual miles-per-gallon goals for all passenger trucks sold in the United States, requiring manufacturers to install fuel saving technology on all passenger trucks.

In announcing the new fuel standards, Mineta remarked, “We took a good, close look at automakers’ plans, examined new technology that is in use or under development – like hybrids and the latest generation of diesel-burning engines – and decided that we could ask more of the manufacturers than we proposed last August.”  A copy of the official press release issued by the Department in conjunction with the announcement of the new fuel standards for future light trucks can be found at http://www.dot.gov/affairs/dot4606.htm.

Nicole Nason Nominated to Head NHTSA

The Bush administration has nominated Nicole Nason as the next head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) within the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). Nason, 35, is a lawyer by trade and currently serves as the Assistant Secretary for Government Affairs of the Department of Transportation. In that capacity, she lobbies Congress on transportation issues. If confirmed by the Senate, Nason would succeed Dr Jeffrey Runge as administrator.

Nason arrived at the DOT from the U.S. Customs Service, where she was Assistant Commissioner of the Office of Congressional Affairs. She also served as counsel for the House Judiciary Committee under former-Chairman Henry Hyde of Illinois and as counsel and communications director for the former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Porter Goss of Florida, who now serves as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Nason earned her bachelor's degree at American University and her law degree at Case Western University Law School.

COMPANY UPDATES

Donlen recently announced that Ted Mroz and Zac Trunzo have joined the company’s sales team as vice presidents of Business Development. Both report directly to Tom Coffey, regional vice president of Business Development.  In his new capacity, Mroz will be responsible for growing Donlen’s new-customer portfolio in Illinois and Indiana. He worked in the overnight courier and mail industry for 11 years before beginning his career in fleet management.  He has in excess of eight years experience in the motor vehicle fleet industry before joining the Donlen sales team.   Trunzo will focus on growing company business in the Mid-Atlantic states. He has worked in the vehicle leasing industry since 2002, beginning his career as an intern and later as an inside sales representative in the industry, as well as a regional director of business development.  Welcome aboard Ted and Zac!
 
PHH recently announced that Jeff Smith, currently Senior Vice President at PHH Arval, has taken on the newly created position of Senior Vice President of North American Truck Sales. Smith will be responsible for unifying the strategy and capabilities of all of PHH Arvals truck and equipment sales channels, including PHH Arval United States and Canada, PHH Equipment Leasing, and First Fleet Corporation.

The company also announced that Michael Lewis has been named President and General Manager of First Fleet Corporation, a PHH Arval subsidiary company. In addition, Lewis has been named Senior Vice President of Truck Strategy at PHH Arval to facilitate the company's overall North American truck growth initiative and will serve as a member of the PHH Arval senior leadership team.  Congratulations Jeff and Michael!

Wheels President Jim Frank was honored recently by the International Automotive Remarketers Alliance (IARA) who presented him with this year’s Circle of Excellence Award. The presentation took place March 8, and preceded the opening of the 2006 Conference of Automotive Remarketing (CAR) at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.  In announcing this year’s recipient, IARA noted that Frank was honored for his significant contributions to the betterment of society and to the remarketing industry. As Wheels President and CEO, he has led the company through rapid growth and expansion in addition to holding multiple top industry posts including chairmanship of the American Automotive Leasing Association and representing the leasing industry before Congress and Executive branches of government.  The IARA is an international organization focused on enabling members to assist, educate, and share knowledge with one another and with industry partners so that each member is empowered to achieve the fullest efficiency and most continued improvement possible in the commerce of selling vehicles through the marketplace.  Congratulations Jim!

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January 2006

FEDERAL ISSUES
OSHA Issues Guidelines to Assist Employers in Developing Safe Driving Programs

On January 24, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the U.S. Department of Labor issued voluntary guidelines designed to assist employers and employees reduce on-the-job motor vehicle crashes.  Set forth in a document entitled “Guidelines for Employers to Reduce Motor Vehicle Crashes,” the guidelines were developed by OSHA in conjunction with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety.


According to OSHA, the guidelines emphasize that employers need to establish a driver safety program in order to save lives, reduce the risk of life-altering injuries, protect human and financial resources, and guard against potential liabilities associated with motor vehicle accidents involving employees driving while on company business.  NHTSA estimates that the average motor vehicle crash costs an employer $16,500, while an on-the-job crash that results in an injury to the employee costs employers an estimated $74,000.  Motor vehicle accidents resulting in a death of an employee and/or a third-party can decimate a company more than just in its bottom line.

The guidelines document features a 10-step program, "outlining what an employer can do to improve traffic safety performance and minimize the risk of motor vehicle crashes."  Copies of “The Guidelines for Employers to Reduce Motor Vehicle Crashes” are available from OSHA's publication office at (202) 693-1888, or via the agency's publications page on its Web site at http://www.osha.gov/Publications/motor_vehicle_guide.pdf.

COMPANY UPDATES

ARI recently announced that Tony Crea, manager of vehicle acquisition and distributions systems at the company, has retired after 40 years with the company.  After beginning his career with ARI in 1965 as an operations clerk, Crea worked his way the supervisory and management chain dealing with car and truck acquisitions, having been promoted to the manager of vehicle acquisition and distributions systems position in January of 2000.  Most recently he has worked closely with an AALA Working Group to develop common electronic industry standards for ordering vehicles.  Congratulations, Tony, and best of luck in your future endeavors!  Hit ‘em straight, and hit ‘em far!

LeasePlan recently announced the promotions of three executive management team members:  Don Schaffer, John Jaje, and Mike Pitcher.  Don Schaffer, who has been with the company since July 2001, who previously had served as LeasePlan’s senior vice president and CFO, has been promoted to the position of executive vice president and CFO.  In his new position, Schaffer will continue to serve as a member of the LeasePlan U.S. board of directors and as a corporate officer of the company.  John Jaje has been promoted to executive vice president of LeasePlan’s Truck Division. Jaje, who joined LeasePlan in 1990 as senior vice president, continues to head the company’s Truck Division – a responsibility he has held for more than a decade.  Mike Pitcher, who joined the company in June of 2003 and was promoted to senior vice president of LeasePlan’s Corporate Fleet Division in March 2005, was recently promoted again to executive vice president of the Corporate Fleet Division.  In this capacity, Pitcher is responsible for all of LeasePlan’s corporate fleet sales and operations departments. Congratulations Don, John, and Mike!

December 2005

FEDERAL ISSUES

“Vehicle and Fuel Choices for American Security Act of 2005” Pending In Congress

When Congress reconvenes at the end of January to begin the second session of the 109th Congress, one bill awaiting action would provide tax credits for companies that purchase more fuel-efficient vehicles for the their private fleets of 100 or more vehicles.  Under the bipartisan Senate bill (S.2025), sponsored by Senators Evan Bayh (D-IN), Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Joe Lieberman (D-CT), and Sam Brownback (R-KS), companies purchasing 10 or more vehicles at once with 125 percent higher fuel efficiency compared with the CAFÉ standards for that vehicle class, would receive a 15-percent tax credit. The legislation, which is pending before the Senate Finance Committee, also instructs the Secretary of Energy to issue regulations for federal and state fleets to reduce gasoline consumption by 30 percent (from a 1999 baseline) by 2016.  A similar bill (H.R. 4409) is pending before the House of Representatives.

IRS Issues Optional Standard Mileage Rates for 2006

Last month, the Internal Revenue Service issued the optional standard mileage rates for 2006 used to calculate the deductible cost of operating a vehicle for business purposes, medical or moving purposes, or for charitable purposes.  Respectively, those rates are:

  • 44.5 cents per mile for business miles driven,
  • 18 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes, and
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organization – not including those services related to Hurricane Katrina relief.

To review the official IRS notice announcing the optional standard mileage rates for 2006, please access http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=151226,00.html.

STATE ISSUES

NEW JERSEY – Efforts the State’s Tax Division to provide guidance on how to implement recently-enacted legislation (public law 2005) conforming New Jersey’s Sales and Use Tax Act to the provisions of the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement (SSUTA) occurred following the effective date of the statute.  On October 25, the New Jersey Tax Division hosted a meeting in Trenton for representatives of the motor vehicle leasing industry that Pam Sederholm, executive director of AALA, and other representatives from various AALA member companies attended.  The purpose of the meeting was to provide guidance and answer questions about the implementation of a newly-enacted provision to New Jersey tax law that changes the way sales and use taxes are to be collected and remitted back to the State when involving motor vehicle leases of six-months or more.

Under the new provision, which became effective October 1, 2005, the terms "lease" and "rental" are interchangeable in relation to the collection and payment of New Jersey sales and use tax.  The statute also establishes a procedure whereby a lessee, who pays the lease tax and subsequently relocates a motor vehicle out-of-state, can seek a refund from New Jersey of the tax overpayment if the state to which the vehicle has been relocated does not afford a credit for sales and use taxes paid to another state.  The most recent advisory issued by the New Jersey Department of the Treasury on these tax law changes can be found by clicking on the following link: http://www.state.nj.us/treasury/taxation/pdf/ssutlease.pdf

AALA members interested in reviewing a compilation of the questions & answers exchanged during the October 25 meeting in Trenton about how the new law impacts motor vehicle leasing should contact Pam Sederholm at sederholm@aalafleet.com.

COMPANY UPDATES

ARI recently announced a series of personnel changes, including the promotion of Bob White to the position of V.P. of Operations at the company, while naming Sean O’Malley as district manager of the North Central Region of the U.S., and Jim Jordan as ARI’s district manager for its Central Region. 

White, who has been with the company since 1989, most recently served as director of Fleet Services at ARI, and previously worked as a service representative and held other supervisory and management positions at ARI.  O’Malley, a marketing and management graduate from St. John’s University in Minnesota, has worked in sales and marketing positions for the past 12 years prior to assuming his new duties at ARI.  Jordan, a 20-year veteran of sales and management, will be responsible for managing the sales efforts of ARI in the metropolitan Chicago area.  He earned his master’s degree in business administration from Keller Graduate School of Management in Chicago, and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Ohio State University.  Congratulations Bob, Sean, and Jim!


Donlen
recently announced the promotions of Jeff Pursell to the position of Vice President of Project Development at the company, Dennis Straight as Vice President of System Architecture – both within the company’s Information and Technology (IT) Department, the hiring of Jim Tuchler as the company’s Senior Vice President of Customer Service, and the selection of Rob Scaffidi as Director of Customer Integration who will work with new and existing clients to streamline the implementation process and to address their individual training needs.
Tuchler, who previously worked at Sears as its manager of Sears.com and as the retailer’s Director of Customer Care and Internet, will serve as Donlen’s primary point of contact on customer care matters.  He will report directly to the company’s president and CEO Gary Rappeport.  An undergraduate of Princeton University where he majored in engineering and operations research, Tuchler earned his master’s degree in marketing and finance from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business.


As administrators in Donlen’s IT department, both Pursell and Straight will report to Bill Chenault, Donlen’s Vice President of Information Technology.  Pursell, a five year veteran with the company, has implemented e-Billing and PUSH, Donlen’s automated exception alert technology.  Straight, who joined Donlen back in 2001, had a hand in developing Donlen Driver and FleetWeb Ordering, the FleetWeb Main Menu and Imaging.  He also created the underlying common architecture for all of Donlen’s Java-based systems.

Scaffidi, who has been the director of Customer Service at Donlen for the past four years, has worked in the fleet industry for the past 12 years including 3 years as a fleet manager before coming to Donlen as a truck specialist.  Congratulations Jim, Jeff, Dennis, and Rob!

Emkay recently announced that Jeff Bescher has joined the company as its Vice President of Vehicle Remarketing and Fleet Services.  Bescher, who until recently was Executive Director of Sales, National Accounts for ADESA Corp., will be responsible for Emkay’s vehicle remarketing operations and strategic initiatives, along with special projects for Emkay’s designated remarketing business units.  Before joining ADESA, Bescher was a senior financial analyst and remarketing manager for the auto leasing division for GE Capital Auto Auctions business unit.  Welcome aboard Jeff!

LeasePlan recently announced that Lynn Labuda has undertaken her new role as business process development manager with LeasePlan Corporation in the Netherlands.  Labuda, whose responsibilities in her new position will be to create a vision and strategy for the business process management approach embraced by the company, previously served as senior vice president of business excellence for LeasePlan USA.  Good luck Lynn!
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