Production for the next generation of USPS trucks has hit another bump in the road. Since 2016, the Postal Service has planned to roll out its next line of delivery vans, replacing roughly 180,000 units of its current (heavily outdated) fleet of vehicles. However, delay after delay has plagued the project since its inception. Now, due to surging COVID-19 cases, USPS has pushed back a decision to begin production plans once again.
USPS Has Planned to Roll Out Next Generation Vehicles Since 2016
It’s been a long road for the Postal Service to roll out its next generation of vehicles. At the end of 2019, USPS planned to make a decision regarding production of these new trucks during the first quarter of 2020. However, the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic in February forced USPS to postpone decisions until the end of the year. Now that cases have surged to record levels since November (and continue surging well into December), USPS has pushed back the timeline yet again.
As of now, USPS plans to make a decision in the first half of 2021. The key phrase there is “make a decision.” Once USPS puts a plan in place to produce these vehicles, it likely won’t see a rollout of new trucks until at least 2022.
In a media release addressing the delay, the Postal Service provided the following statement:
“The COVID-19 pandemic previously resulted in the expected production award being pushed to the end of 2020. However, amid continuing COVID-19 concerns, and in order to provide for capital investment activities and required approvals, the program schedule has been revised and a decision is now planned for quarter 2 of fiscal year 2021.”
Current USPS Trucks Are Well Behind the Times
Although USPS keeps pushing back production plans for new delivery vehicles, the organization desperately needs them. Currently, the Postal Service relies on roughly 200,000 Grumman Long Life Vehicles (or LLV’s, for short). These LLV’s have a lifespan of anywhere between 25 and 32 years, and though they were once state-of-the-art in the 1970’s, they are now all well past their prime.
While plans to update USPS trucks stall, other delivery companies are making serious investments in their logistics. UPS has partnered with CVS for drone delivery. Even FedEx has unveiled autonomous delivery robots. However, perhaps the biggest taunt to the Postal Service’s archaic delivery fleet comes from its fastest-growing competitor: Amazon. Earlier this year, Amazon invested in an electric fleet of 100,000 delivery vans…all while USPS trucks keep catching fire.
If the Postal Service hopes to keep servicing the American people with as much efficiency and affordability as possible, it needs to make a decision to produce these next-generation vehicles sooner rather than later.