By James Raia
When the U.S. Postal Service finally replaces its geriatric delivery vehicles, the new fleet will be assembled in the United States and the trucks will have a new name.
According to a recent industry report, the USPS said the long-time pending product will advance to “the production phase by the end of the calendar year.”
The trucks won’t be on the road for at least another year.
The Postal Service currently relies on about 140,000 Grumman Long Life Vehicles for its main delivery service. The trucks were expected to only be used through the 2017 fiscal year. The vehicles have a custom body manufactured by Grumman mounted on a Chevrolet truck chassis no longer made.
Going Postal: Delivery trucks still burning
Although a new delivery fleet has been discussed for years, the project’s importance was thrust into the spotlight earlier this year in a report by Postal Times. It detailed the aluminum-bodied truck’s susceptibility to fire. Including the 14 trucks that have caught fire this year, a total of 167 postal trucks have caught fire since 2014.
The new generation of trucks will be called Next Generation Delivery Vehicle, or NGDV.
The winning bidder for a $6 billion contract for as many as 180,000 vehicles was to be announced July 14. But the COVID-19 pandemic prompted delays.
Current trucks don’t have air conditioning, anti-lock brakes or airbags. They are too small to accommodate the e-commerce packages that make up the bulk of the mail today.
Maintenance costs for the aging trucks increased 3.9 percent in 2018 and 2.8 percent last year, according to Postal Regulatory Commission.
At least four companies are vying for the contract and all have provided prototype vehicles for consideration.
James Raia, a syndicated columnist in Sacramento, California, publishes a free weekly automotive podcast and electronic newsletter. Sign-ups are available on his website, www.theweeklydriver.com. He can be reached via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.