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US Postal Service delays next-generation delivery vehicles -- again

The program kicked off in 2015, but the USPS cites the coronavirus pandemic as the latest hurdle in replacing its boxy vans.

USPS Grumman LLV
The Grumman LLV wasn't supposed to be around this long...
Ullstein Bild/Getty Images

It's going to be awhile longer before the US Postal Service receives new mail delivery vehicles. The USPS has reportedly once again delayed its ongoing proposal process because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Trucks.com first reported the delay on Tuesday after the request for proposal period was supposed to end on March 27. Now, the service's latest filing pegs July 14 as the final date. A handful of companies have already provided prototype next-generation mail delivery vehicles in hopes of receiving a multibillion-dollar contract for the business.

The USPS plans to dish out $6 billion to replace its aging, tired fleet of boxy Long Life Delivery Vehicles, or LLVs, that Grumman manufactured in the 1980s and '90s. The contracts will see some 200,000 new delivery vehicles manufactured, and the hope is to incorporate electrification to make the fleet more efficient. The LLVs were only meant to serve the USPS through 2017.

Five years ago, when the USPS first kicked the program off, six companies vied for a slice of the $6 billion contracts. Today, four bidders remain. They include Workhorse, which largely hinges its future on building the vehicles for USPS; a joint effort between Ford and military vehicle company Oshkosh; Turkish bus manufacturer Karsan, which is working with Michigan-based Morgan Olson; and India's Mahindra. Any replacement vehicle must be manufactured in the US.

Meanwhile, as delays pile on, the USPS continues to spend massive sums of money to keep the LLVs in service. Trucks.com cited government figures that show the average work hours spent to maintain the vehicles rose by 6.7% since 2018 and the USPS spent $1.2 billion on maintenance in 2019, an increase of 2.5%. The trucks have a track record of catching on fire.

The USPS did not immediately return a request for comment on the delay.

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