USPS Seeks Bids To Replace 180,000 Long Life Vehicles – Will Consider Alternative Fuel Options

MAR 24 2015 BY ERIC LOVEDAY 69

Long Life Vehicle

Long Life Vehicle

Long Life Vehicles

Long Life Vehicles

Our hope is that the 180,000 U.S. Postal Service vehicles that will be replaced starting in early 2018 are all of the plug-in variety.

Here’s a summary of the situation via Automotive News:

“Faced with rising maintenance costs for its aging fleet and needing extra cargo space to satisfy the desires of online shoppers, the U.S. Postal Service is asking automakers to bid on a commercial van that would replace the boxy Long Life Vehicle and become the backbone of the service’s delivery fleet starting in 2018.”

“The agency has scheduled a meeting with potential bidders next week in Washington. It says it will pick vendors this summer to build prototypes, which will undergo tests in 2016 before a contract is awarded in early 2017.”

This is believed to be the largest fleet purchase in U.S. history with those 180,000 vehicles valued at $25,000 to $35,000 a pop.  Total contract value could be north of $6 billion.

Here’s what the USPS is seeking:

“The Postal Service wants a van with right-hand drive, which could make it tougher to satisfy U.S.-content procurement rules. The agency also plans to explore alternative-fuel powertrains to save fuel and wants major modifications to suit mail carriers’ daily routine and durability standards.”

It’s likely the vehicle will be purpose-built, at least to some extent and our hope is that it’s a plug-in hybrid van of some sort.  That would staisfy the USPS’ desire to have a more fuel-efficient vehicle.  The current Long Life Vehicle gets ~ 16 MPG in the real world, which is too low, according to the USPS.

It’ll be interesting to see which automakers, and what vehicles, are presented in bidding for this massive contract.

Source: Automotive News

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69 Comments on "USPS Seeks Bids To Replace 180,000 Long Life Vehicles – Will Consider Alternative Fuel Options"

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Nissan should be putting in a bid there.
The Leaf and the Electric van.

It’s funny you should say that, because the first thing I thought of was that, with their crummy, range deteriorating batteries, Nissan should not even be *considered* for the new fleet.
I can just see it 3 years down the road, when the entire USPS fleet can’t even make their rounds because they only have 70% of the range they started with.

Then it’d be USPS failure to not have properly specified minimum performance levels, with anything falling below that being the manufacturer’s responsibility.

Also, as far as I can tell (although it’s merely by sampling the chatter on online forums), Nissan seems to have corrected the shortcomings affecting (some of?) the 2011 and 2012 models Leaf. A newly-developed vehicle surely would include past improvements.

“Also, as far as I can tell (although it’s merely by sampling the chatter on online forums), Nissan seems to have corrected the shortcomings affecting (some of?) the 2011 and 2012 models Leaf.”

Don’t worry. 10 years from now, even if at that time there is still zero evidence of 2013 and later LEAFs having the battery degradation problems of 2011 and 2012, people will still be posting as though those problems still persist.

Of course, Nissan shares the blame by being so secretive about what they did in 2013.

If Nissan did bid on this they’d need to specify a larger van – note the comment about how the old vans are too small for all the on-line shopping cargo these days. Given the 180k number it probably would be work their while. A larger van, with maybe a 48 kWh pack, and assurance that the pack would be replaced at some number of years. Most of these vans don’t put much mileage in and none of them are expected to go very fast.

Nissan did not “make whole” the unfortunate victims of their faulty batteries. Who would want to do business with a company like that?

Nissan battery issues are nowhere near as sever as you think.

http://insideevs.com/nissan-leaf-battery-reliably-outperforms-cynics-critics-alternatives/

When the media magnifies an issue it’s usually a statistical “outlier”.

Secondly, Nissan is the only company that today gives you the replacement cost of a Leaf battery.

Third, they’d go out of business if their battery problem was that bad.

Go out of business? At worst, they’d just quit making the Leaf. It’s not like Nissan doesn’t make other, more successful, lines of cars.

Needs sliding doors, right hand drive, and an aluminum or CFRP body. It can’t be an off-the-shelf product.

Then they also could put in their next gen battery into the proposal which is supposed to be ready by next year.

With the fuel savings of an electric fleet completely paying for itself in less then 3 years, there should absolutely be a 10 year max on the rated life of the fleet.

And then buy a new fleet in 10 years.
30 years is ridiculous.

If an e-NV200 is available in the UK, then its right hand drive, and Chevrolet is just rebadging the NV200 as their own Express Van, so conceivably Chevrolet (GM) could introduce an EV van product using LG or Samsung batteries or a Voltec system of some sort.

A “custom” variant of the Spark EV (using the lower cost, more advanced Chevrolet Bolt batteries, but smaller kWh pack) would also suit this application quite nicely.

I’m drooling at the thought of the USPS replacing their fleet with all-electrics, given their daily driving pattern. That said, I am guessing it will not happen, which is disappointing.

I was going to say a variant of the Bolt. Make it RH drive and rip out the back seats.

I’d be happy with either a BEV solution or a CNG solution. I know CleanCities gushes over Propane, but I don’t consider it enough of an improvement over sameold-sameold gasoline.

Its probably because I want them to get the bugs out of that CNG Impala, seeing as I want a large alternatively fueled vehicle, I have unanswered questions about the “S” and “X”, and Via is all talk. So practically the only large alt fuel vehicle for me is the Impala.

They have GOT to go electric. They are the perfect application for electric driving:
-Centralized place where the vehicle sits at night and can be charged
-Short routes (Post routes are generally less than 50 miles I believe.)
-Stop & go driving.
-Want to minimize pollution in residential areas.
-Can put solar PV up on post offices to cover charging them.
-slow driving

They should buy slightly modified eNV-200s or something like that.

Couldn’t agree more. USPS wouldn’t be greatly mistaken to not go with a 100% electric vehicle. A 120 mile range should be sufficient for daily needs.

2018 starting date mean availability of those 200+ miles batteries.

Exactly. Maybe Tesla could supply batteries to Ford or GM to make this USPS vehicle?

I like the idea of solar panels at all the post office garages.

Heavy fuel use application, and 80% savings on gas with EV’s.

Yes, it would be INSANE Not to go EV.

This seems like an order tailor made for the Nissan e-NV200. This already has sliding doors, available in the UK (so right hand drive) and fully electric. They could sweeten the deal by offering to manufacture at their Tennessee plant. I don’t suspect most mail routes are over 70 miles.

USPS expects their vehicles to have an average life of 35 years. A car or van built for the typical car owner isn’t gonna cut it.

I’d love to see postal delivery go electric, but I suspect it’s still too soon. Neither UPS nor FedEX have done more than buy a few test vehicles, so it seems it’s still too early in the EV revolution for mass transition to EV delivery vehicles.

Cost matters more than life. 16mpg trumps “35” yrs

You may well be right, but we’re talking about an organization which combines the worst parts of big business and Federal bureaucracy. The U.S. Postal Service is theoretically an independent for-profit company, but it is closely controlled by Congressional oversight which greatly hampers its ability to set good (or even rational) policies and long-term business decisions.

Will the USPS abandon its long-held policy of buying only vehicles designed to last much longer than typical consumer vehicles? Maybe, but I’m not holding my breath.

This is where GM leverages the voltec platform.

Couldn’t agree more, and with the new Bolt batteries, they should be able to make a 50 mile EV postal vehicle for pretty low cost.

I really hope that the solution ends up being electric, regardless of manufacturer.

Nissan has already publicly stated they will not bid for the USPS contract.

http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1096830_u-s-p-s-long-life-vehicles-last-25-years-but-age-shows-now

Bummer. But makes sense for two reasons. First, the eNV200 is nowhere near large enough for this, so they’d have to custom design a larger van. Second, if they could sell eNV200-like vehicles to the post office for profit what kind of pressures would that put on the EV tax credit?

This would be a smart move. Howsoever having worked for 5 years at the Post Office, technically in the Postal Service, I would say that they are antithetical to making smart moves.

The article needs to be updated, USPS, as usual..is looking at one off, very expensive vehicles that aren’t electric at all.

In fact, they have officially derided the consideration of electricity as a fuel for the new contract and are hoping for more dirty gasoline vehicles at a multi billion dollar cost to us all.

Please write your senators and Reps to try to change these unfortunate circumstances.

Do you have a link to support these assertions?

No wonder auto manufacturers didn’t bid on it before, and Nissan’s still not bidding on it this time. LHD requirement for such a “relatively” low number of vehicles, spread out in an unknown number of years, plus the price “reduction” due to bidding, mean auto makers will rake in very minimal profit per vehicle sold (and spread out for an extended period of time). Worst, the parts required to support the vehicles may mean break even, or even at a loss per vehicle sold. If I am not mistaken, the regular NV200/Chevy City Van has the lowest MSRP, but they are still over $21K. If any of the manufacturer has to ship the vehicles in overseas, cost will be much, much higher. Even if one considers minivan – almost all of them are US – made with US spec nowadays, making the conversion from RHD to LHD unlikely. The exception being – Nissan Quest. But a Quest is at least $26K. Same logic as above applies. The Long Life vehicle is super cheap because it really is a Jeep Willy used during WWII with LHD. They just put the post cover on it. That’s why it’s so cheap to begin… Read more »

There are two variations to the current LLV. The largest number are based off the frame and mechanics of the Chevrolet S-10 pickup. The last buy which was not many vehicles (a few thousand) was based off the Australian Ford Explorer which was expensive to maintain. There are not that many Jeeps still out there. These are easy to distinguish as they still look like a jeep. Most are rural carriers who bought them at an auction and use as their personal vehicle to deliver mail.

I have put my hands on a NV200 and the cargo area is plenty large enough for the USPS needs and by the time the first deliveries begin (2018) the eNV200 will have the next gen battery. This van is perfect.

The USPS has said they want a bigger vehicle that what they have now.

They project ever more packages and ever less letters in the future.

WOOT! Go electric USPS! A 40 mile EV with 120V charging overnight is perfect for you.

This seems like a great opportunity for GM or another auto manufacturer to supply a vehicle with a Spark EV-like battery and drive down costs of the EV components using economies of scale.

Eric Loveday (or Jay)… Any chance that InsideEVs could reach out to GM for comment on whether or not they may consider bidding, for the aforementioned reasons in my post above? 😉

I was wondering about Smith. Since they already make RHD for London, it would be ‘off the shelf’. The 35 year requirement hopefully can be met by the USPS considering Batteries to be a normal ‘wear’ item. Electrics might work where the post office parking lot is adjacent to the building. But in my town, the parking lot is across the street and therefore would have to be wired a bit. A 200 amp 1-ph service should do it for 1.5 kw, 20 vehicle charging. Plus a few LED Lighting Standards. More rural offices, with much longer typical daily chores with just a few vehicles could have a few j1772 charging docking stations. (like that 15 amp $395 Clipper Creek thing). If CleanCities gets into the act on this conversion job, I bet the vehicle selected in probably Propane or CNG. I vote for CNG if they’ve already decided against EV’s. Its advantage is it is much cheaper than propane and doesn’t need to be trucked in. Propane is about the same price as electricity most of the time, so I can’t figure out how fleets converting to it save money, unless the fact that the clean operation reduces frequency… Read more »

I was thinking perhaps Proterra or BYD might be a good fit to build an electric Long Life Vehicle, since they already build heavy-duty long-life electric buses.

I know Tesla already has a lot on its plate, but it would be great if they could create a seperate division to make aluminum BEV trucks for the USPS, UPS, and Fed Ex, and also make aluminum BEV transit buses, long-haul buses, and school busses.

Tesla right now is aimed at consumer market.

They do not have any team oriented at government deals ( 😛 ).

That would be waste of resources to create one. Too little time, too big difference in regulations/requirements/expectations.

+2

Readers may be interested in a related article I wrote on this topic a while ago (dare I say, before InsideEVs became the popular behemoth it is today…) 🙂

http://insideevs.com/should-the-us-postal-service-fleet-go-electric/

A better electric Transit Connect would be welcome..

That’s what I was going to say as well. Bring back the Ford Transit Connect Electric. Give it a bigger battery. And hopefully the cost has come down from $57,000.

Yes, they built only 500 back then. With economy of scale and new cheaper better batteries, it can be a very good little truck for the job.

So, are we talking about the same USPS that is losing billions, is on the edge of bankruptcy and is looking to stop Saturday delivery to reduce the “bleeding” is going to pay for 180k new vehicles. Yeah, right! Let’s see if it’s still around or at least making a dollar by 2018. Just sayin’.

Get real. The USPS is not going anywhere no matter how much money it is losing.

Congress will just give them more money.

If the USPS was allowed to set its own rates for postage, instead of having to have everything approved by Congress, it wouldn’t be losing money.

Less than 1% of the USPS’s operating expenses are funded by the government; it largely operates on its revenues. However, due to continuing losses, it has been borrowing money from the U.S. Treasury since 2009.

source:
http://www.politifact.com/georgia/statements/2013/jul/24/american-postal-workers-union/postal-service-claim-not-fully-target/

Personally I’m glad Congress stepped in and prevented the USPS from ending Saturday mail delivery, but at the same time the Post Office should be allowed to set postal rates which will allow them to operate at a profit. It wouldn’t kill us to pay 75¢ or even $1 for a first-class mail stamp. If you think about what you’re getting — hand pickup and delivery of mail directly from and to businesses and residents — it’s actually pretty good value for the money. You’d pay a courier far more!

Too bad they can’t find a way to eliminate junk mail. I don’t know if that would help or hurt the USPS’s bottom line though.

It would probably hurt their bottom line badly, but I’m with ya, I HATE junk mail.

Letter carriers hate junk mail too, and would like to see the USPS raise the rate for that… which would have the advantage (from their viewpoint) of reducing the volume by making it more costly.

But contrary to the popular notion that a “high” price for a first-class stamp subsidizes a low rate for bulk (pre-sorted) mail — and the overwhelming majority of “junk mail” is bulk mail — it’s actually the other way around. Since the majority of the pieces the USPS handles is “junk mail”, that means that’s the source of most of their income. If all that went away, they’d have to raise the price of a first-class stamp quite a bit to compensate for the loss of revenue.

Of course, these days, with most people using e-mail in preference to snail mail, my guess is that most people would gladly pay twice as much for the few stamps they use per year if they never had to deal with junk mail again! But it would be a pretty devastating blow for many or perhaps most businesses; they still have to send out bills and receive payments by mail for many (if not most) customers.

They will never get rid of junk mail, as it is one of the few stable baseline profit areas they can count on. What they should do is eliminate the franking privilege. raise rates on junk mail, eliminate Saturday deliveries, reduce their totally out of balance supervisory levels, which are about 3 times the industry average. One supervisor for every 6 individuals. Ridiculous.
Of course none of this will happen, as they are a broken agency. Franking privilege is the ability of your representative(s) to send mail through the USPS for free.

“USPS that is losing billions, is on the edge of bankruptcy and is looking to stop Saturday delivery to reduce the “bleeding” ”

CON-gratulations, you’re a dupe. Billions are being lost, due to a 2006 Republican mandate to fund retirees out to 75 years. In other words, pensions for employees that _haven’t_even_been_born_yet_.

As a post system is in the Constitution, the next opportune scheme is to embarrass them.

My wife is a rural carrier, so she would not get the benefit of one of the new vehicles, since she does not get an LLV now. It would be nice if whatever company got the contract would also have a vehicle to purchase for rural carriers that don’t get the postal provided vehicle. For my wife’s route, four wheel drive would be nice.

Rural carriers such as your wife are contracted by the USPS to use their own vehicles, rather than USPS vehicles, precisely because the USPS doesn’t want to pay for all those additional mail delivery jeeps and vans. I doubt that’s going to change simply because the current fleet of jeeps and vans is wearing out.

Furthermore, the typical mail delivery jeep isn’t necessarily the ideal vehicle to use on rural routes, where customers may be widely separated. The jeeps are best where customers live close together, stops are very frequent, and low speed isn’t much of a handicap.

I know some states still operate rural mail delivery by contracting it to the lowest bidder but in South Carolina, they’re just normal employees without an LLV. They get paid the same based on route and have the same benefits. The only difference between city and rural carriers is that rural carriers have to have their own vehicle. They still have to apply and pass the exam and take all the classes and stuff.

Ford CMax Energi would save the most money in a rural environment.

Toyota might be coming out with a 4wheel drive Prius.

A Mitsu Outlander plugin, in 2016 would be good too.

Tesla could build this and call it the Alset Van, would not cost much to build with their new battery factory, super charger at each post centre. No need to spend any money on a new design as it is already too ugly but does work for the USPS.

If Tesla bids and wins the USPS contract the gigafactory needs to be running at full production.

The USPS actually has a long history of EV delivery vehicles, dating back to 1899 (mostly just tests and pilot programs however).

The largest pilot program involved Ford supplying the USPS with 500 electric mail delivery trucks in 2000. The program was discontinued in 2003 due to battery longevity concerns. Ford replaced the EV mail trucks with gas powered Windstars. *rolleyes*

https://about.usps.com/who-we-are/postal-history/electric-vehicles.pdf

It seems every recent test program (in the last 25 years or so) was ended by request from the manufacturer, despite mostly positive feedback from the USPS. Big surprise there.

What are the private delivery companies doing? DHL, UPS, Fedex…..

If EVs save them money, it should save the USPS money (and the taxpayers).

Neither UPS nor FedEX have done anything more than a few test programs to study the viability of EV delivery vehicles. We can certainly say with some justification that the USPS does not appear to be a well-run business, but I think it’s pretty clear from the fact that neither UPS nor FedEX have started switching over, that it’s still too soon for it to be cost-effective. Presumably the business case for the Post Office is quite similar.

After the per-kWh price of batteries comes down somewhat more, and/or the longevity of batteries goes up somewhat, you can be sure UPS and FedEX will send a clear signal that the EV revolution has advanced, when they start buying EV delivery vans in large numbers.

Just a shout out to the original manufacturer of the LLV, The Grumman Corp. These vehicles have performed admirably for 30+ years, 6 days a week, and are still the backbone of the USPS delivery fleet.

I suggest buying some Tesla P85D for express mail delivery :)))

HaHa. “The current Long Life Vehicle gets ~ 16 MPG in the real world, which is too low, according to the USPS.”

What a joke. Please go to a 3 year old article from Inside EVs titled “Should the US Postal Service Fleet Go Electric?” There is another USPS chart there that states the average MPG for the same LLVs was just around 10 mile per gallon, and that the average route was only 16 miles. Perfect for EVs now, as it was back in 2000 when they issued a contract for 500 EVs with an option for 6,000 more. Of course they screwed it up.

I’m a rural carrier with the USPS. I’ve been using a Prius for mail delivery since I bought it new in 2008. I’ve got over 200,000 miles on it and likely have averaged over 40 mpg. Recently, the post office has assigned an LLV to my route. Inasmuch as I don’t want it, they’re forcing me to use it. (When the route gets counted again, this will mean a pay cut of a few thousand dollars). I recently calculated the gas mileage of the LLV they’ve assigned to me: 8.4 miles/gallon. I will likely switch routes so I’ll be able to use my own vehicle, and will seek to be fully electric. A couple months ago, I had an “extended test drive” (week long) of the BMW i3. The guy at the dealership even suggested I try it out for work . . . so I did. Used it for delivery 2 days. It worked well . . . though I maxed out its capacity and range. It’s smaller than the Prius. And between the route (50 miles) and commute (15 miles OW), the range extender kicked in. Most city routes are less than 25 miles. Rural routes can be… Read more »