As announced in the July 5, 2011 ARI Purchasing News, Toyota is conducting a voluntary safety recall for Highlander Hybrid and Lexus RX 400h vehicles. Here is a list of frequently asked questions provided by Toyota: 

1.    Which models are involved in the recall?

Approximately 45,500 2006 - 2007 model year Toyota Highlander Hybrid vehicles and approximately 36,700 2006 - 2007 model year RX 400h vehicles, both sold in the U.S. No other vehicles are involved in this recall.

2.    What is the condition?

Certain transistors on the Intelligent Power Module (IPM) control boards in some of the subject vehicles were inadequately soldered and could be damaged from heat caused by a large current flow during high-load driving.

3.    Are there any warnings that this condition has occurred?

Yes, if the condition were to occur, various warning lamps will illuminate on the instrument panel. In most cases, the vehicle will enter a fail-safe driving mode, resulting in reduced power in which the vehicle can still be driven for short distances. In limited instances, the power supply circuit fuse could blow when the transistor is damaged. If the fuse blows, the hybrid system will stop and the vehicle will coast to a stop.

4.    Have there been any reports of accidents?

There have been no reports of accidents related to this condition.


5.    What is Toyota going to do?

Toyota is currently working on obtaining the necessary replacement parts. Once the replacement parts are available, they will notify owners. In the Interim, owners of the involved vehicles will be notified of the recall by first class mail in mid-July, 2011.

Once the replacement parts have been produced in sufficient quantities, Toyota will send a second owner notification by first class mail advising owners to make an appointment with an authorized Toyota dealer to have the IPM inspected and if necessary, replaced at no charge.

6.   Is the repair covered by warranty?  Will I have to pay any money out of pocket for this repair?

The inspection and, if necessary, replacement will be performed at no charge to the customer.

7.    What should an owner do if they experience the condition, or have immediate concerns about their vehicle?

If an owner has any immediate concerns, they are requested to contact their local dealer or the Toyota Customer Experience Center at 1-800-331-4331.

MY2012 Nissan LEAF Available Soon, Will be Built in the USA in MY2013

Unable to get ahold of an elusive 2011 Nissan LEAF?

Starting in late November, you’ll have another chance to place an order for the all-electric vehicle.

For 2012, the Nissan Leaf gains a standard cold weather package, which consists of a battery heater, heated outside mirrors, heated steering wheel, heated front and rear seats as well as a rear HVAC duct.

Nissan is working hard to get its Smyrna, Tennessee plant up and running by Q4 2012. Once fully operational, the plant can facilitate up to 150,000 LEAFs annually.

Natural Gas Civic Retains CA HOV Lane Access Until 2015

California drivers of the current Civic GX CNG-powered Civic and the all-new Civic Natural Gas will continue to have access to the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) highway lane until January 2015. As an Inherently Low Emissions Vehicle (ILEV), the Civic Natural Gas qualifies for “White Clean Air Vehicle” decals, which are available in an unlimited quantity. “Yellow Clean Air Vehicle” decals for hybrid vehicles expired on July 1, 2011.

For information on how to obtain clean air decals, please visit the California Department of Motor Vehicle website at


A recent article published by General Motors provides readers with a glimpse of the real-world driving experiences and cost savings Volt owners are realizing since purchasing their extended range electric vehicle.

One of the owners, Kory Levoy, used to spend about $50 to $60 a week fueling his Audi TT Roadster. In the six months he has owned his Chevrolet Volt, Levoy has driven approximately 7,500 miles and has filled up only three times.

“I was tired of spending roughly $200 plus a month on gas,” said Levoy, a manufacturing manager from Yorba Linda, California.  “The ability to not even consider finding a gas station or worry about fuel pricing is a phenomenal experience.”

Levoy said he is averaging 40 miles on a single charge of electricity, more range than he needs for his daily commute of 25 miles each way to work.

“At night I charge my Volt at home using my 240-volt home charging station, and am then able to use my 120-volt portable vehicle charge cord to charge during work, meaning I rarely need to use gas,” said Levoy.

Levoy estimates his average electric bill to charge his Volt is about $25 a month, or less than a dollar a day. Even with paying for more electricity, Levoy could save close to $2,000 a year in gasoline.
Carey Bailey, an electrical engineer from Cottage Grove, Oregon, used to spend close to $500 a month in gasoline for his 75-mile roundtrip commute. Since purchasing his Volt in January, Bailey has cut that to about $100 a month and expects it to drop further. He estimates it costs roughly $1.10 a day to charge his Volt.

“Each day, I use about a quarter of a gallon of gas to get to work, which is hardly anything," said Bailey. “Being able to charge at work is an added benefit and I love the fact that I am reducing my carbon footprint by not consuming as much gas.”
The Volt’s extended-range capability offers a total driving range of up to 379 miles, based on EPA estimates. For the first 35 miles, the Volt can drive gas- and tailpipe emissions-free using a full charge of electricity stored in its 16-kWh lithium-ion battery. When the Volt’s battery runs low, a gas-powered engine/generator seamlessly operates to extend the driving range another 344 miles on a full tank.

In June GM upgraded its Detroit Hamtramck plant to prepare for an increase in Volt production. The vehicle is expected to have nationwide availability by the end of this year.

Another Electric Car Hits Our Shores in 2012, Lowest Priced EV in U.S.

The 2012 Mitsubishi I, the lowest-priced electric vehicle in the U.S. market, will be available for purchase in Q1 2012. The I is an A-segment car that is already available in Japan, but the bigger U.S. version starts at just under $29,000. According to the new EPA sticker, the I is capable of 112 MPGe in combined driving, and range varies from 60-98 miles depending on conditions.

Ford Easy Fuel® Helps Prevent Theft

Reports of gasoline theft have been rising across the United States, from New Jersey to California. The West Sacramento, Calif., Police Department, for example, recently issued a warning to residents about a rise in fuel theft that it attributed to the increase in fuel prices.

As fuel theft continue to escalate, Ford owners can feel a little more secure knowing their vehicles are equipped with a capless fuel filler called Easy Fuel®. The feature is specifically designed to easily let fuel in, while making it difficult to get fuel out.

The capless full filler deters gas theft in two different ways. A spring-loaded flapper door is held closed by latches that can only be released by a standard-size fuel nozzle. This eliminates the need for a fuel tank screw cap. When the proper nozzle is inserted into the filler neck of the system, the latches release, and the nozzle pushes the spring-loaded flapper door to the open position. When the nozzle is removed, the flapper door automatically is forced closed by the spring.

Easy Fuel has a mis-fueling inhibitor to reduce improper refueling and siphoning. The inhibitor consists of a fuel nozzle detector that guides the nozzle to the opening. If a nozzle or foreign tube of a different size – a diesel nozzle or plastic hose, for example – is placed in the filler neck of a gasoline-powered vehicle, the latches will not release.

“Our first goal is to make the refueling process as easy and trouble-free for the customer as possible,” said Brian Aitken, supervisor, Fuel Systems. “But if it also slows down would-be thieves. Ford customers benefit that way as well.”
Another deterrent in Ford vehicles is associated with the on-board refueling vapor recovery (ORVR) system. The main purpose of the system is to prevent vapors from escaping during the fueling process. There is also an inlet check valve that is part of the on-board refueling vapor recovery system. While the valve is primarily designed to prevent vapors from escaping during the fueling process, it also can thwart siphoning efforts because it closes automatically after the fueling process. It does so by detecting the pressure of liquid fuel as it passes. On many Ford vehicles, this valve will thwart the siphoning effort by thieves.

Still, Aitken said that despite the fact that technologies built into Ford vehicles may prevent siphoning, not all fuel thieves will be deterred.

“For another level of deterrence, a customer can purchase a locking cover,” Aitken said. The locking covers are available for purchase from Ford and Lincoln dealers.

Tune into ARI’s “Talking TCO” FleetBlog!

In partnership with Bobit Media, ARI maintains a fleet blog entitled “Talking TCO.” The blog, hosted by ARI’s Environmental and Fuel Strategies Manager Elisa Durand, focuses on a variety of fleet management topics and provides advice that helps companies rethink fleet strategy and asset utilization, unlock the fleet's real ROI value, and ultimately contribute to business success.  An important factor in this equation is environmental and fuel strategies, so please check us out at