The United States (US) Postal Service is on fire, quite literally! More and more of the US Postal Service fleet of aluminum-bodied Grumman Long Life Vehicles (referred to as LLVs) are spontaneously catching alight and burning to the ground.
At least six LLVs have burned up so far this year, according to the Postal Times. In 2018, 17 burned, while 42 caught fire in 2016.
Trucks.com reports that the LLVs were built from 1987 to 1994 and lack many modern safety features. They are not designed to handle the number of packages the US Postal Service now delivers.
Further, Postal Service memos state that lack of proper and timely maintenance, together with failed fuel-system components and overloaded wiring have contributed to the fires.
“As LLVs continue to age, the threat of vehicle fires and the risk to letter carriers increases,” the National Association of Letter Carriers wrote in the January Contract Talk column of its Postal Record magazine.
The issues of mail truck fires has been raging for years, and in 2015 the federal agency publicly launched a programme to replace its estimated 140 000 LLVs with next-generation delivery vehicles. However, the programme has since been beset by delays.
Four years ago, the Postal Service awarded five companies contracts to produce 50 functional prototypes for a new mail truck. The prototypes had to include different sizes of trucks and interior configurations. Internal-combustion engines and electric-powered engines were part of the mix. Testing began in the third quarter of 2017.
The agency is expected to announce this year which company has won the prototype competition. It will then issue a request for production proposals to build up to 180 000 new mail trucks. The deal could be worth up to US$ 6,3 billion (R85.93 billion) over nine years.
The Postal Service “expects the first vehicles to be delivered within 12 to 18 months” once testing has been completed and a manufacturer has been awarded a contract, Christopher Jackson, the union’s director of city delivery, said in the union magazine this month, notes Trucks.com.
The competitors are AM General; Turkey’s Karsan teamed with Morgon Olson; Oshkosh Corporation teamed with Ford Motor Company; India’s Mahindra; and VT Hackney (part of the Singapore Technologies Engineering group) teamed with Workhorse Group.