U.S. Postal Service looks to update its mail delivery fleet

The U.S. Postal Service has selected six companies as finalists to build prototypes for a next-generation mail delivery vehicle. Hybrid drivetrain and new-age technologies are among the top priorities for the new vehicle. The six companies were awarded contracts worth a total of $37.4 million to produce 50 prototypes. This is only the latest development in the USPS’ quest to an updated fleet, which started in earnest in January 2015.

The new vehicle, dubbed the Next Generation Delivery Vehicle, or NGDV, will replace the long-standing Grumman LLV, the now iconic postal delivery truck that’s been in service since 1987. Despite production having ended in 1994, roughly 160,000 LLVs, which fittingly stands for the Long Life Vehicle, are still in service.

The six companies fighting for the contract award include AM General, Karsan, Mahindra, Oshkosh, Utilimaster, and VT Hackney. A few of those names likely register with most TopSpeed readers. AM General built the Humvee for the U.S. Military and the Hummer H1 for General Motors. Likewise, Oshkosh currently builds military vehicles, including the MRAP. Mahindra, an India based company, builds everything from pickup trucks to tractors and ATVs.

Utilimaster and VT Hackney build everything from fire trucks and box van enclosures to beverage and food trucks. Karsan, a Turkish company, builds vehicles like city busses.

Each company will have roughly a year to complete the project. Six months of USPS testing will commence after that in various conditions, climates, topography, and population centers. Each vehicle prototype will be evaluated for the operational needs of mail delivery.

While absolutely no information is available about each company’s prototypes, we expect to see a widespread use of hybrid or alternative fuel usage, including Compressed Natural Gas, propane, and even perhaps fuel cell technology. While coming at a higher buy-in price, these fuel-saving powertrains could realize huge long-term money savings when implemented over a large fleet for years to come.

Continue reading for more information.

Why It Matters

The need to replace the 30-year-old Grumman LLV is becoming ever larger. The aluminum-intensive vehicles are showing their age and are surely becoming increasingly hard to maintain. The LLV is based on the first-generation Chevrolet S-10 and is powered by the 2.5-liter Iron Duke four-cylinder. A four-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive, front disc brakes, and rear drum brakes round out the running gear. Despite being a four-cylinder, the Iron Duke is by no means efficient by modern standards.

Replacing the LLV with a gasoline-electric hybrid, a fully electric, or even a fuel cell vehicle would drastically reduce fuel consumption over the USPS’ entire fleet. It’s no wonder why the government is looking to these new propulsion methods. This will also help combat the rising costs of operation associated with the USPS’ shrinking market share in the mail delivery segment.

We will certainly keep you posted with any information that comes from this contract war. Speaking of which, what company do you think will win the USPS contract? Let us know in the comments below.

Source: USPS

Press Release

USPS Statement on Next Generation Delivery Vehicles Prototype Selection and Request for Proposal for Commercial Off-the-Shelf Delivery Vehicles

The United States Postal Service (USPS) publicly began the Next Generation Delivery Vehicles (NGDV) acquisition program in January 2015 with a Request for Information (RFI) and kick-off meeting open to all interested technology and automotive suppliers to respond and participate. The robust and open process was designed to attract the most innovative and cutting edge technological solutions.

Following a review of the responses to the RFI, 15 suppliers were determined to be prequalified to submit proposals to develop NGDV prototypes. A Request for Proposal (RFP) was issued in October 2015 which included a statement of objectives in response to feedback received from the supplier community and other stakeholders. As part of the process, the potential suppliers were given access to our processing and delivery environment and employees, and then asked to submit proposals that represented their design conclusions concerning the delivery vehicles that would best meet USPS’s organizational needs. Potential suppliers were allowed to submit multiple proposals for consideration.

After a rigorous evaluation process, the Postal Service today awarded contracts to six prime suppliers who together will produce 50 prototype vehicles as part of the next phase of the NGDV acquisition process.

The six selected suppliers include AM General, Karsan, Mahindra, Oshkosh, Utilimaster, and VT Hackney and the contract awards are valued at $37.4 million. The suppliers also have the discretion to team or subcontract with additional suppliers, and it is anticipated some will do so to develop the finished prototypes.
Half of the prototypes will feature hybrid and new technologies, including alternative fuel capabilities. The prototypes will represent a variety of vehicle sizes and drive configurations, in addition to advanced powertrains and a range of hybrid technologies.

The suppliers will have approximately one year from contract award to develop and produce their prototypes. The Postal Service then plans to test the vehicles during a period of approximately six months in a range of different climates, topography, population centers and delivery environments. The tests will help demonstrate the ability of the proposed designs to meet our operational needs, including the need to deliver to mailboxes across the United States.

With the prototype selection, the Postal Service is also announcing a forthcoming RFP for commercial off-the-shelf, right-hand drive delivery vehicles. The Postal Service seeks to explore a wide variety of available options during this research phase, and will evaluate any commercial off-the-shelf vehicles proposed as a result of this RFP as we continue to assess the delivery fleet mix.
Today’s announcements outline a significant step in the learning and development phase that will lead to a multi-year acquisition process. The lessons learned from this process will help inform the future production program.

Our goal is to obtain vehicles that will help us provide reliable and efficient delivery service for customers and honor our commitment to reducing the environmental impact of our fleet, while meeting the needs of our employees to best do their jobs safely. The Postal Service currently operates a diverse fleet including left-hand drive, multiple sized and alternative fuel vehicles. In addition to the NGDV process and the commercial, off-the-shelf, right-hand-drive RFP, we are deploying commercially-available vehicles including cargo vans and mixed delivery vehicles on an ongoing basis to supplement delivery needs.

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