The U.S. Postal Service is going New Truck Shopping

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  1. Carnage

    Carnage SRT Hellcat Supercharged Moderator Staff Member Hellcat Car Club Gold Supporting Member HCC Charter Member

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    The U.S. Postal Service Is Going New-Truck Shopping

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    If you’re old enough to remember the 1980s, you’ll recall that mail used to be delivered in Jeeps. They may have looked cooler than the boxy mail vans on the road today, but they were dinosaurs. Now, the current delivery vehicle—the Grumman Long Life Vehicle, or LLV—has become a dinosaur itself. Built on the chassis of the Chevy S10, the aging and obsolete LLVs have puttered past the expected end of their run.

    Built between 1987 and 1994, the LLVs are in rough shape. A report released over the summer by the USPS Office of the Inspector General estimated that in 2013, the maintenance cost for its 142,000-vehicle LLV fleet was close to $452 million—or more than $3000 per truck. Fuel efficiency was also listed as a concern. LLVs were designed to average 17 mpg (not bad), but the actual number has been about 10 mpg (terrible).

    So the U.S. Postal Service is shopping for a new truck, and it has issued a request for information from manufacturers interested in providing the new mail-delivery vehicle. The replacement process is still in the very early stages, but the contract promises to be a lucrative one for the winning bidder. The USPS said it plans to purchase 180,000 vehicles at $25,000 to $35,000 each, a potential $6.3 billion worth of new mail vans.

    The USPS said that it wants the new vehicle, like the LLV, to have right-hand drive, an enclosed van-style body, a heavy-duty automatic transmission, and a sliding driver door. It also needs to be cheap and easy to maintain and be able to withstand 20 years of severe use, other LLV attributes. But the similarities end there. The new vans will have safety features now standard on passenger cars and light trucks, including a front airbag, tire-pressure monitors, a backup camera, daytime running lights, and ABS. The postal service has also called for more fuel-efficient, less-polluting powertrains and is considering alternative-fuel vehicles for a large part of its fleet.

    So what does all this mean to the average letter carrier? We asked a carrier who has been delivering mail for 35 years. Speaking anonymously to avoid ruffling feathers at the top of the postal pyramid, he said that when it was introduced, the LLV was a vast improvement over the old Jeeps, which he described as “pieces of crap” with no power steering and a wide turning radius. But the LLVs, he said, are past their prime.

    “Right now, they’re rattle traps,” he said. “The heat doesn’t work half the time; they break down a lot; when it rains, water comes in around the windshield and the doors. Sometimes the packages get all wet.”

    He also ticked off a laundry list of problems with the LLV, which he thought could have been avoided if letter carriers had been involved in the design process. For starters, he said, the exhaust pipe exits on the right side of the vehicle.

    “They need a carrier to help design the truck, not a bunch of pencil necks that don’t know what it’s like to carry mail,” he said. “The Einstein that invented it put the exhaust pipe on the same side as the driver, so we’re always sucking exhaust.”

    LLVs also are not equipped with air conditioning, which this particular letter carrier said causes drivers a considerable amount of discomfort on hot summer days. The USPS said in its report that it wanted to include air conditioning in the new trucks. It also claims to have completed a nationwide survey of letter carriers in coming up with new design priorities.

    What did our intrepid courier think about the proposed changes?

    “I’m glad somebody’s finally starting to think about our comfort, as well, because if you’re comfortable, you’re more productive,” he said.

    Unfortunately, letter carriers should not expect speedy delivery of their new rides. The first LLV replacements aren’t scheduled to hit the road until 2018.

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  2. hellcat1

    hellcat1 Gold Member

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    Very interesting article,,I bet they get that new Chevy van that looks like a Nissan
     
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  3. solo7777

    solo7777 SRT Terminator Hellcat Car Club Western Regional President HCC Charter Member

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    Maybe this....
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