Postal Service Readying Production Contract for New Mail Truck

January 13, 2020 by Jerry Hirsch, @Jerryhirsch

The U.S. Postal Service said it will award an expected $6 billion in contracts for the next-generation mail truck later this year.

The agency is providing only the scantest details but in late December asked up to four separate company teams for contract proposals to build the new truck. Each of the teams previously has provided prototype vehicles to the Postal Service for evaluation.

They have until March 27 to bid for what the postal service has previously said will be more than $6 billion of business to build as many as 180,000 delivery vans. But the agency said it could extend the deadline. However, the Postal Service said it plans to award one or more contracts this year.

AGING FLEET

The post office now uses about 140,000 Grumman Long Life Vehicles for its main delivery service. Manufactured from 1987 through 1994, they need to be replaced. A 2014 audit from the office of the USPS inspector general found that the current fleet can only meet the delivery needs of the agency through the 2017 fiscal year.

They lack essential functions such as air conditioning, airbags or anti-lock brakes. They are too small to accommodate the e-commerce packages that make up the bulk of the mail today. With an average age of about 28 years, they are past their expected life span. The vehicle is a custom body manufactured by Grumman mounted on a Chevrolet truck chassis that the automaker stopped making ages ago.

The mail trucks are so old the Postal Service has trouble recruiting automotive techs who know how to fix them.

TRUCK FIRES

The old aluminum-bodied trucks also are fire-prone. Thirty-four of the U.S. Postal Service’s aging Grumman LLV delivery trucks caught fire last year, according to a tally by Postal Times. That makes 153 since 2014.

USPS truck fire Connecticut Grumman LLV

This mail truck caught fire next to gas pumps Feb. 27 in North Haven, Conn.

The Postal Service started the replacement process in 2015. It awarded $37.4 million in contracts to six suppliers to produce 50 prototype mail vehicles a year later. Several of the suppliers have since dropped out of the bidding.

There are four left, but one of the teams has split up, leaving its status in the bidding unclear.

The Teams

Turkey-based Karsan, which makes commercial electric vehicles, is teamed with long-time USPS supplier Morgan Olson of Sturgis, Mich. The team has offered a plug-in hybrid engine option for the new mail truck.

Mahindra Automotive North America is another. Mahindra is offering a gasoline or mild-hybrid powertrain option, according to government filings.

“Were we to win the contract we would build the vehicles in the U.S. and, in fact, signed a (letter of intent) to evaluate the former Buick City site in Flint, Mich., for that purpose,” Rich Ansell, vice president of marketing at the U.S. unit of India’s automotive giant, Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd., told Trucks.com last year.

The company also is evaluating sites in several other states, he said.

Workhorse Group, a small Loveland, Ohio, electric truck builder, had teamed up with truck body maker VT Hackney. But it said VT Hackney has dropped out of the project.

The fourth team, specialty truck- and military vehicle maker, Oshkosh Corp., of Oshkosh, Wisc., and Ford Motor Co. of Dearborn, Mich., already have U.S. manufacturing facilities. They based their internal combustion engine entry on the Ford Transit cargo van.

None of the companies would talk about their bids, citing a confidentiality agreement with the Postal Service.

The production contracts – there could be more than one awarded – will cover what the agency calls its Next Generation Delivery Vehicle, or NGDV, and its flexible fuel vehicles.

The evaluation process “requires thorough evaluation as well as negotiations. As such, we expect to award the contract(s) for the production phase in the summer of 2020,” Postal Service spokeswomen Kimberly Frum told Trucks.com in an email.

But Frum provided no other information.

“The Postal Service cannot comment on which companies are vying for the NGDV contract, their potential subcontractors, team members or any other details,” Frum said.

Jerry Hirsch October 21, 2019
The U.S. Postal Service fails to act as its mail delivery trucks burn up at an alarming rate.

56 Responses

    • Sheila

      As a letter carrier besides is important but also so is that air conditioning and the Heat Safety First seat belts I like to be the one without design new vehicles for the Postal Service being that I am one who drives them thank you

      Reply
    • Bella

      The amount of money and down (on my LLV alone) the PO could have purchased at least 3 new vehicles. Constantly being towed.

      Reply
      • Ron McAlister

        Living in Sturgis Michigan growing up there knowing many employees Grumman Olson I know their employees take pride in their workmanship and I would highly recommend to award that contract to Grumman Olson in Sturgis Michigan

    • Bill Potts

      The money comes from the USPS budget. Don’t worry, non of your taxes support the USPS,they are totally self supporting through sales of postage and services. It’s a not for profit agency that’s self supporting but is not mandated to make a profit,just break even. I’m a retired letter carrier,so, I know what I am talking about. And they unlike UPS and FedEx are mandated to deliver to every address.

      Reply
      • Ty bramble

        OMG you are thick! The USPS loses about 4 billion dollars every year. So yes our tax dollars do pay for this poorly run government program. USPS should turn this over to companies that make a profit immediately. Lol you said you know about this!

      • Bryan

        But they don’t break even, and they don’t have any money or any more borrowing ability

      • Robert Knoop

        Better do some research Bill. Plenty of tax payer support. No federal fuel taxes paid by them, no federal taxes of any kind paid by them. No vehicle license plate registration or license plate fees paid, an annual 18 billion dollar allotment given to them by the government (which is money from US taxpayers) and the list could be two pages long of “special” treatment given to the post office. I’m fine with trying privatization of the PO in several cities in order to see if things can be improved by such privatization. I’m also happy with 3 days a week delivery. I’ve delivered to many a postal center and while most of the employees were conscientious and did a decent job there were also obviously some there who thought they were untouchable and overworked. Much can be done to improve their fleet operations and needs. Let’s have the big truck leasing firms like Penske and Ryder try their hand at a few big centers and see if they can do it better while reducing cost.

      • Wendy

        100 percent right your tax dollars do not pay for anything in USPS. Break even is the goal but because we have to prefund retirement for employees who probably haven’t been hired yet ( your Federal government who cannot balance their own books telling us how to do ours!) makes us show a loss.

      • Marc Rettus

        Carrier’s vehicles have never had air conditioning, but postal supplied vehicles for managers do have air conditioning. I guess the managers work harder than the carriers. 🙂

    • Marc Rettus

      Tom, the money comes from postal revenue.

      The postal service pays billions a year for its retirement program. If this money was put into an account, the retirement system would be funded to something like the year 3000.
      But it doesn’t. Congress takes that money and spends it. This is an integrity issue that neither political party wants to correct. Correct this unjust expense, and the postal service will be okay financially.

      Reply
      • Darrellogden

        Lol.some uneducated cools in this thread.USPS does NOT get tax dollars for operating. They DO get reimbursed for Congressional mandated free postage for the blind. That’s it postage pays for all else. And electric vehicle crap won’t work on 100,000 rural routes of 50+ miles a day in all kinds of weather with Full A/C or heat and electrical system load for 8 hour days.on too of that post offices all over America do not have outside electric hookups.give me a break.get that trash outta here.

  1. Andy

    I was part of a team of eight, picking through, driving, analyzing all five of those prototypes.

    I was told they were to have one selected three years ago, I don’t believe much on that matter anymore.

    Sorta like the saying goes, I believe when I see it.

    Reply
  2. Dakhine

    The Trucking industry is heading towards electric vehicles. It would be terrible to spend 6 billions for a dying technology. Realy sad if they don’t move to the future…

    Reply
    • Pat Fromwinnemucca

      Electric vehicles are rapidly overtaking internal combustion vehicles with low energy costs, low maintenance costs and long service lives. Unfortunately the vehicles in service have far exceeded their expected service lives and replacements are needed now. Electric trucks are easily capable of handling routes of two hundred miles or more. The postal service is faced with deciding on technology still in the development stage or technology that will soon be obsolete.

      Reply
      • Mark Mitchell

        No, electric vehicles are NOT rapidly overtaking ICE’s. That is absolutely untrue. Even the most optimistic estimates forecast BEV’s/HEV’s making up 30% of the market by 2030. Obviously you can figure out what the remaining 70% are.

  3. Glenn A Reeman

    Management will mess it up.B.T.W were are they getting the money? The letter carriers contract as expired? No money for raises? The postal service as billions in unpaid bills?B.S..Postal management filled with thefts called management.lower middle and upper management.Billions spent on automating mail and its don’t work.Clean swamp try mid management there.

    Reply
    • Lee

      Drain the postal swamp. 95% of problems in the post office are directly related to bad management . Get rid of the dead weight . They can’t see outside of the ways that they learned . Bad learning and training middle-managers poorly . Fill or kill jobs that are on hold down. Stop paying a premium for travel !

      Reply
    • Marc Rettus

      Frankly, Glenn, I’m surprised your almost incoherent writing made it through moderation.

      So MANY unproven or unexplained charges, including the accusation of theft.

      Reply
  4. Michael

    I certainly hope the design and evaluation process included the people who will use them. USPS Letter Carriers have the expertise to make the vehicles fully functional, saving time and money.

    Reply
  5. Randy

    I drive an LLV daily. The most critical needs in the NGDV are for the blind to be removed, increased cargo carrying space with provision for a handtruck, intermittent wipers, more interior lighting, and, yes, AC.

    Reply
  6. Mark Thiel

    There are already vehicles made in the USA which, with minor retrofitting, could meet the USPS delivery vehicle needs. The increased costs of retraining mechanical personnel, providing replacement parts, retraining drivers and infrastructure requirements do not merit $6 billion in new vehicle contracts.

    Reply
    • Marc Rettus

      Your post makes no sense. You seem to promote the purchase of currently available vehicles, then state the expense of new vehicles is too much.

      Reply
    • Pat Fromwinnemucca

      The obvious choices might be the small Ford and Ram delivery vans. Unfortunately they are made in Europe and Asia. At least the Asian companies are looking at setting up manufacturing in USA.
      If we want an American company building American trucks in America we have to look outside the usual car and truck manufacturers. They are all multinational corporations.

      Reply
  7. Brad Weatherman

    I plan on retirement from the P.O. In less than 7 years and I guarantee you that I will never see the new postal vehicle, P.O can’t agree on anything!!!

    Reply
    • Nutjob

      Tis true about major mismanagement. As a retired employee, it was obvious to see nepotism and blatant favoritism, promoting incompetents into line supervisors and up to reach all the way to plant managers. Having experiences in the clerk and maintenance crafts, respect was demanded, never earned from incompetent management. I can count on one hand the few supervisors and managers deserving of my respect with the vast majority that never should habe been put in their positions to mislead many. Research and development may be one bright spot in a sea of bureaucratic bunglers, staffed by engineers with actual degrees to determine the long term benefits of the next generation delivery vehicles vital to the USPS surviving decades of mismanagement in order to compete against Amazon, UPS and FedEx. Despite ignorance from the public, tax dollars were never used to run the USPS. If the USPS hired MBAs on a paltry government salary, my guess is waste and mismanagement would fall and create an actual business to make a profit. Since the mandate requires only the USPS to deliver mail to every address in the USA, no other company will perform this money losing task, ther main reason USPS is always in a deficit.

      Reply
    • Marc Rettus

      Tell, what is an American vehicle? A Chevrolet made in Mexico? Or Canada?

      If Government Motors, oops, General Motors, or Ford wanted to sell vehicles to the postal service, they could have put in a bid.

      Do you think Fiat Chrysler America is an American company?

      Reply
  8. Shame

    Where I work we drive Chevy uplanders or Dodge promasters. Almost all of Minneapolis is park and loop though. I do know that they could have used Jeep Cherokees since they already make right side driving ones for Europe.

    Reply
      • Marc Rettus

        Bob, I question whether “shame” even works for the postal service. To think the vehicles he mentioned would be adequate shows a real ignorance of the daily duties of today’s mail carriers.

    • T

      Jeep has stopped making right hand drives for the immediate future in the US. To import one in you have to wait until they are 25 years old. You can only find used RHDrives now. So not only are the LLVS becoming extinct but so are the US Right hand drive manufacturers like jeep and subaru. Not to mention that the cherokees or wranglers can handle the extra loads of amazon

      Reply
    • Darrell Ogden

      Why? They’re utter trash unsafe at any speed,from the last century that break down constantly

      Reply
  9. Capone

    It needs to have AWD and be electric for the PO to make good on the money their spending. Less on fuel costs and less chances of getting stuck. And btw, where is this money coming from?! When it’s a problem to get stickers to ask people to keep back some feet, I make frequent stops, let alone get over a lane when on main streets.

    Reply
  10. Robert

    If they are getting new mail trucks they should start doing there job.I have been told by my local USPS I’m lucky to receive my package’s cause they don’t deliver packages to door. What? Its there JOB! WTF? They get to deside to deliver or not No. My zip is 29073

    Reply
  11. Chris Corsaro

    I work for the PO and if they let us fix them instead of trying to save money we wouldn’t have fires!!! I work in a very large VMF!! All management worries about are bonus’s and next promotion they will receive! Is it out the door yet? Or there most famous one is it didn’t come in for that. Who told you to fix that? Yep daily life of a VMF tech qt the PO.

    Reply
    • Larry K

      No, a report came out recently that Workhorse bought out VT Hackneyed for $4 million. Workhorse than licensed the manufacturing of their van (if the win) to Lordstown Motors to be built at their Lordstown Ohio plant which was previously used to build the Chevy Cruze. This is a 6 million sq ft plant with all the equipment still in it, so fully capable of churning out NGDVs at a high rate.

      I believe the Workhorse NGDV will be powered by hub motors. So will the Lordstown Motors (LMC) Endurance electric pickup. LMC is trying to move the manufacturing of the hub motors into their Lordstown plant. So it makes sense to build both the Endurance and NGDV at the same place if they share the same power train. GM has loaned LMC to help retool the Lordstown plant.

      The USPS specs for the NGDV require that it be equipped with air conditioning and come in either 2WD or AWD.

      Reply
      • Shannon L Tripp

        Larry K. = You are right… I think they will be the one picked.. If you remember, Trump told the Lordstown people not to sell their homes… I think he knows something is coming their way! 🙂 GO WORKHORSE!!!!!

    • DarrellOgden

      No. Hackney is out of it and electric vehicles won’t be bought en masse. They can’t last for an 8 hour day and 50+ Mike’s a day under full electric load in a rural environment.100,000 rural carriers would find them useless.

      Reply
  12. John S Meier

    The U.S. Postal Service on Wednesday reported that it saw a $3.9 billion loss in fiscal 2018, a 44 percent larger dip into the red over the previous year despite a $1 billion revenue increase.Nov 14, 2018

    Reply
  13. Frits Maggey

    If a mechanic doesn’t know how to fix an early 90’s vehicle they should pack up the drugs and ship them back home.

    Reply
  14. Jess

    If they are anything like the FFV they can keep them. Horrible design amd no room to move around. If they are like the LLV I might be interested. But I like my llv.

    Reply
  15. John Ruggiero

    I don’t know who you have for a carrier, but when I delivered mail I always left the boxes at the address. If it was raining i left them in bags. And if possible they were left inside the door or in a secure spot. Try talking to you your regular carrier b4 being too critical. Sincerely a terminated carrier!!

    Reply
  16. B K Grieve

    The LLV contract was for longer than 1994, I believe it went until 2004. I was a VMF mechanic for 13 years.They were to last 24 years, aluminum body, but the frames rusted out before that time in certain areas of the country. Originally tested in Arizona, not made for winter weather. Multiple modifications to be able to handle the colder climates. Prototypes for the new ones were tested in Northern climates this time. That might produce a better product.

    Reply
  17. Donnie

    Turkey! India! You have to be kidding. The “U.S” p.s. should spend it’s money buying U.S. vehicles. Not send our money to a foreign country.

    Reply
  18. Sazzy

    ANOTHER REASON FOR STAMOS AND PO BOXES TO GO UP. WHERE DO YOU THINK THEIR BUDGET COMES FROM!! BUT YET THEY CAN’T HOLD MAIL. WHAT A JOKE OKAY IT’S THE ARKANSAS POST OFFICES THAT ARE CRAP.

    Reply

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