Postal Service Delays Production Contract for New Mail Truck

May 12, 2020 by Jerry Hirsch, @Jerryhirsch

The U.S. Postal Service pushed back a plan to award an expected $6 billion in contracts for the next-generation mail truck later this year.

In a filing, the agency said it moved the deadline for four separate company teams to provide contract proposals to build the new truck until July 14. The proposals were originally due on March 27.  Each of the teams previously has provided prototype vehicles to the Postal Service for evaluation.

The agency told Trucks.com that it pushed back the deadline because of “the current COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on Postal Service and supplier operations.”  The USPS has provided very few details about the status of its program to replace aging mail trucks.

The Postal Service has previously said the contract could be more than $6 billion of business to build as many as 180,000 delivery vans. It also has said the contract could be split between multiple parties and that the mail truck needed to be assembled in the U.S.

AGING TRUCKS

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 was expected to only meet the delivery needs of the agency through the 2017 fiscal year. But delays in the replacement program have kept the trucks in operation.

The current trucks 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 vehicles are taking more time to maintain and repair, according to the Postal Regulatory Commission,’s 2019 fiscal report. Maintenance workhours required to keep its entire fleet on the road rose 2.8 percent last year. The measure rose by 3.9 percent in 2018.  The post office spends an average of $50.66 per labor hour for motor vehicle service, according to the report.  The agency spent more than $1.2 billion on what it designates as vehicle maintenance services and rural carrier equipment maintenance last year, a 2.5% increase over the prior year.

The old aluminum-bodied trucks also are fire-prone. At least 10 of the U.S. Postal Service’s aging Grumman LLV delivery trucks caught fire so far this year, according to a tally by Postal Times. That makes 163 fires since 2014.

The agency is working to replace the trucks even as it deals with the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. It is predicting $13 billion in lost revenue because of the plunge in U.S. economic activity during its current fiscal year.

POLITICAL FIGHT

But the service is caught in a political battle between President Trump and Jeff Bezos, the chief executive of Amazon who also owns the Washington Post. Trump sees the news organization as a political nemesis. Earlier this month the Postal Service’s board of governors named Trump campaign donor and North Carolina businessman Louis DeJoy as the new postmaster general. DeJoy starts on June 15 and replaces Megan Brennan.

Trump wants the Postal Service to raise rates for package delivery, which in turn would raise Amazon’s expenses. But a Trump administration task force review of the Postal Service’s operations found that package delivery remains a profit center for the agency. Higher rates could push Amazon and others to use or develop other delivery services.

Amazon is already investing heavily in delivery capacity. Last year Amazon reached an agreement to purchase 100,000 Rivian electric trucks that will start service as early as 2021.

The giant retailer plans to have 10,000 of the new electric vehicles on the road as early as 2022.

The Postal Service started its mail truck 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.

BIDDING TEAMS

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

Turkey-based Karsan, which makes commercial electric vehicles, 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.

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

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

14 Responses

  1. Stephen Webster

    The U S post office needed new delivery trucks 2 years ago. The bed thing is a 5 billion dollar one time grant with 3 billion to replace transport inside the post up to one billion for building upgrading and automation. The other one billion for payroll assistance for this year. Amazon doesn’t treat employees or subcontractors as good as the post office or Costco. Rural parts of the U S need a well run delivery system with a 20 percent wage subsidy for all post offices that less than 30,000 customers and more than 50 miles from a city of more than 100,000 people. Amazon and Fedex and some food processing places need a complete inspection and be made to pay the costs of any employee or subcontractors who get hurt sick 70 percent of their the average state wage until able to return to work in the event of death until age 65. The post office has much better medical treatment and protection than some of the competitors. The best choice is raised level of medical treatment and pay in the event of a work related medical event.

    Reply
    • Timothy Nathan

      Completely agree. Ohio needs the work. Why send the money to India or turkey. We need jobs right here after covid. And workhorse has the only fully electric option. This is a no brainer.

      Reply
    • Timothy Nathan

      Completely agree. Workhorse has the only entry that is fully electric taking the post office to the next generation with reduced operating costs and green tech. One of the few times I see an answer that makes sense regardless of political persuasion. Moreover, it would create jobs in the us rather than India or turkey, which we desperately need in light of covid. Why send the money oversees, harming America workers, to get an inferior product that’s outdated as soon as the post office takes delivery? This is a no-brainer.

      Reply
      • Edward Heath

        New Ideas and Innovations, LLC
        edwards electric car at ya hoo do t com
        Edward Heath 203-500-8777

        EEV-3 Edward’s Electric Vehicle / AKA “The Watt”

        5 Years in the making, our fully 100% electric car technology will travel hundreds and hundreds of miles on a single charge thus lasting days or even weeks depending on these 5 driving criteria for a full EV:

        1) Driver’s driving habits.

        2) Overall weight of vehicle.

        3) Electrical load placed on vehicle.

        4) Topography / geography driven on – hills or level ground.

        5) Miles driven per day.

        With the “EEV-3” (Edward’s Electric Vehicle…saves 3 types of natural resources either to charge an electric vehicle or to propel any vehicle, where it be and internal combustion engine (ICE) or hybrid or fully electric. Those 3 are: Crude oil, coal and/or Natural Gas). Driving with our “Super Ultra Extended Long Range Electric Vehicle Technology” will erase any worry about “range anxiety” so get into that highways left lane or go on that back road journey for wherever you want and go with confidence knowing that you will get to your destination without having to stop or slow down because of your battery packs’ charge state. With the EEV-3, it is always being charged as you go down the road!….so go in confidence as you live your life, where ever it may take you! This is why applying my technologies to the electric mail trucks (that is if the U.S. is smart and gets them (electric) but with Trumps boy being the USPS boss now and we know that Trump is NOT for electric vehicles, probably get some gas guzzling trucks that need a lot of maintenance!)
        Another advantage to our technology is that since we do not need a giant battery pack for long range, our vehicles battery pack is smaller than the “big boys” out there and that converts to other advantages, and they are: 1) faster charge times and 2) lighter vehicle weight that as mentioned earlier (see # 2 of the “5 driving criteria) equals better vehicle handling and overall longer driving distances.
        Thank you for reading and hopefully sharing our technology!

  2. Larry L. Parks

    I wish Tesla would jump in with an awesome prototype. It would be awesome if USPS would get plug-in vehicles. But I guess 140k or so units not worth the effort?

    Reply
    • Timothy Nathan

      Wouldn’t work. Tesla didn’t submit an entry, so that ship has sailed. And they have products for other markets. Nothing that would fit the governments specifications. Workhorse is the only us company offering a next-gen fully electric truck. This is a no-brainer.

      Reply
      • Tom

        When is contract going to be awarded? For postal delivery trucks. Tom mich.

  3. Donald

    The Post Office tested all of the prototypes. According to our office’s vehicle maintenance mechanic, the electric vehicles weren’t holding up to real world delivering on real routes with real carriers. Maybe they were lacking? I would love for the Post Office to have all electric or hybrid vehicles, but they have to withstand the daily beating we put them through everyday to 158 million delivery points. I’m hoping for the best design to make mail and package delivery easier.

    Reply
    • Mashman

      LOL. So a mechanic said the electric vehicles were not holding up? Could it be possible he has that opinion because the electric vehicles involved have hub motors and need almost not maintenance to keep running?

      As Upton Sinclair said – “it’s hard to make a man understand something, when his livelihood depends on him not understanding it”.

      Reply
  4. Lew

    Postal vehicle purchasing is not that easy. First the USPS needs right hand drive vehicles, due to mounted routes. They can and do use left hand units for park and loop delivery routes ( routes were carrier walks). The struggle is what type of fuel? Electric vehicles have been used in the past. Electric vehicle are high new cost. USPS is in hard spot !

    Former VMF manager

    Reply
  5. Alexander

    When will they announce their decision? It’s possible that they decide to use multiple companies some units are better suited for different areas or something like that.

    Reply

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