USPS deciding which company will build corrosion-resistant vehicle fleet

Vehicles are just one of the reasons that the parcel delivery business has been revolutionised (check out this article to learn the others). With the average age of the U.S. Postal Service’s long-life vehicles 25 years and rising, it’s safe to say the LLVs are living up to their namesake. But with corrosion taking a toll on their exterior framing and operational capabilities, the USPS is poised to replace its aging fleet in the not-too-distant future. Another option when you’re faced with the challenge of your vans exterior corroding is to use car magnets (available from which can be more easily replaced.
All that has to be decided is the company that will take on the tall task.

As reported by Bloomberg Government, a multi-billion contract is up for grabs for the manufacturer that develops what the USPS refers to as its “Next Generation Delivery Vehicle.” Firms competing over the building rights include Mahindra, Oshkosh Corporation, Workhorse Group Inc. and VT Hackney. All of the companies have backgrounds in engineering, manufacturing and/or defense contracting.

Christoph Mlinarchik, a government contracts expert and purveyor of an eponymous consulting firm – told Bloomberg Government that the combination of the money as well as the front-and-center nature of the project makes this competition truly one-of-a-kind.

“Postal trucks are so iconic to American suburban life, Mlinarchik explained. “This is a high-visibility contract that you simply have to get right.”

“LLVs were first used in the 1980s.”

LLVs trace back to the mid-1980s, when the USPS first began using them for mail and parcel delivery purposes. Now totaling between 163,000 and 211,000, the readily recognizable LLVs have been on the roads for much longer than they were initially intended, so much so that they’ve suffered engine fires in recent years, with some of the incidents symptomatic of severe corrosion. In their place will be a lineup of the aforementioned next-generation automobiles, which the USPS forecasts will cost between $25,000 and $35,000 to build per unit, Bloomberg Government reported. With the agency planning on developing 180,000 of them, the total cost is poised to range between $4.5 billion and $6.3 billion.

Predictions on cost have run the gamut
That expense far exceeds what the USPS Office of Inspector General expected to be the final tally back in 2014, when it determined that replacing the aging fleet would run the agency in the $500 million ballpark. If you’re looking for vans for your company fleet, there are deals on a variety of lease vehicles like the Ford Transit and the Toyota Hilux.

However, a June 2018 report from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office indicated the USPS will spend as much as $821 million annually for the new lineup of delivery automobiles.

Whatever the final dollar figure turns out to be, the agency said it intends to pay for the projects through the proceeds that derive from postage stamp sales and package deliveries, Bloomberg Government reported.

USPS spokesperson David Partenheimer told the news source in a written statement that the ultimate winner of the contract will be the one that helps the postal office deliver – in more ways than one.

“The U.S. Postal Service’s goal is to obtain and operate vehicles that will help us provide reliable and efficient delivery services for customers and honor our commitment to reduce the environmental impact of our fleet, while meeting needs of our employees to best do their jobs safely,” Partenheimer said.

Models expected to be safer, sturdier
Given the degree to which the departing fleet of vehicles rusted, the manufacturer awarded the contract will likely utilize corrosion testing and salt spray to see if the models have the necessary durability needed to withstand the effects that cause corrosion in the first place. Testing is done both for quality performance and safety purposes. Speaking of which, the design of the new models is expected to have more safety features than the LLVs, including antilock brakes, airbags and a higher payload capacity, making the vehicles sturdier and less susceptible to accidents caused by weight imbalances.