One task that's easy to do from your laptop is shopping for your business vehicles online. Many websites link directly to auto manufacturers with dealer addresses and information on prices, rebates, reviews, ratings, delivery estimates, fleets and warranties. Comparison charts let you shop around for the best deals, and www.edmunds.com has tips on how to avoid online buying fraud. Other reputable sites include www.autobytel.com, www.autousa.com, www.carsdirect.com and www.kbb.com.
What's the latest in add-on and optional technology? An innovative lane-change alert and blind-spot warning system is available on some vehicles including the Volvo XC90 and Audi Q7 SUVs. Improved GPS systems on vehicles can provide door-to-door driving directions or data on upcoming traffic problems. Stability and traction control, all-wheel and four-wheel drive and back-up cameras with onscreen viewing are add-ons. Flashing red arrows in side-view mirrors warn other drivers of lane changes, and tire pressure-monitoring systems reduce truck breakdowns (properly inflated tires also help save fuel). OnStar on GM's light trucks helps locate stolen vehicles, and XM satellite radio has advance traffic and weather information. A future trend, reports www.cars.com, is fingerprint scanners on doors for keyless entry.
Incentives and rebates continue to roll out, from drastic discounts including manufacturer-employee pricing to seasonal cash-back programs. Incentives on commercial fleet purchases are strong: At press time, Toyotas ranged from $500 on the Sienna minivan to $1,500 on the Sequioa SUV and $1,250 on the Highlander Hybrid SUV. On Toyota's Tundra and Tacoma pickups, the incentives are $500. Dodge's On The Job program offers incentives and cash allowances for small businesses and special job applications.
Buying a Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) vehicle can save you a bundle of money, and most are eligible for dealer incentives. But compare before you buy, because in 2007, many light truck manufacturers are equipping their new models with more efficient, fuel-economy engines.
Hummer is selling 2006 CPO models that are less than 48 months old with fewer than 50,000 miles; Toyota's CPOs have fewer than 85,000 miles on the clock; Nissan's are five years and younger with a maximum of 60,000 miles; and Chrysler/Dodge backs its CPOs with an eight-year/80,000 mile limited warranty. Compare CPOs at www.auto.msn.com.
Jill Amadio is Entrepreneur's "Wheels" columnist.