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U.S. Postal Service to seek bids on next delivery vehicle
Potential $6 billion deal could be one of the biggest fleet purchases ever
Gabe Nelson
Automotive News
February 12, 2015

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.

It could be one of the largest fleet purchases ever. According to specifications released to potential bidders Jan. 20, the Postal Service would buy 180,000 vehicles at $25,000 to $35,000 apiece, valuing the contract at $4.5 billion to $6.3 billion.

Selling vehicles to a government fleet is hardly a profit bonanza. Yet the sheer size of the contract could make it unusually desirable to commercial-van manufacturers such as Ford Motor Co., Daimler AG and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, with their Transit, Sprinter and ProMaster product lines.

Such European-style vans proliferated in the U.S. over the past decade as high fuel prices made the poor fuel economy of body-on-frame trucks a liability. The potential for fuel savings may be a key criterion for the Postal Service, whose current fleet consumes as much as 154 million gallons of gasoline annually -- as much as all U.S. oil refiners sell in a week.
The Long Life Vehicle now plying postal routes was built not by a traditional automaker but by aerospace company Grumman Corp., before Grumman was gobbled up by defense giant Northrop.

Grumman put a rustproof aluminum frame on a General Motors chassis and powered it with a four-cylinder engine from the Chevrolet compact pickup.

The truck’s right-hand-drive configuration allows mail carriers to reach through the window and drop letters into roadside mailboxes, and to step straight onto the curb rather than into traffic.

But nearly 30 years of heavy use has revealed design flaws.

The Jan. 20 document released by the Postal Service listed a number of problems, including fragile sliding doors and leaky windshields. In real-world driving, the truck often falls short of its fuel economy rating of 16 mpg.
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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Interesting read and a good opportunity for an OEM if they do it right.

Can GM jump on this? Do they have a product or wherewithal to do it? I'm not confident. Ford has the Transit Connect to start from. Ram has the ProMaster City, Nissan has the NV200, and Benz will soon have their Metris van here.

What's more, I've seen a lot of Post Office minivans in my area -- there always seems to be older Dodge Caravans doing postal duty. This type of vehicle could also be an option for them.

GM obviously has their "City Express" coming, but we all know it's a rebadge job. Will Chevy ever bring their own Opel/Vauxhall European vans over? The Vivaro could make a nice option for USPS, or for that matter, so could a revised Opel Zafira.

Outside of normal automakers, I wonder if someone like AM General or another specialty vehicle manufacturer would want to jump into this game? If Grumman could take a GM chasis and powertrain, mate it to a unique body, and sell it to USPS, I'm wondering if another specialty firm could do the same with a different product?

Last but not least, I'm wondering if some of the firms that competed in the NYC Taxi competition could also make a run of it, or otherwise have a leg up on the competition? Nissan certainly made a go of it with their NV200 (and won). Ford compete with their Transit Connect and a Turkish outfit, Karsan USA, had a bespoke looking product that looked very promising.
 

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A hybrid/diesel Transit + Connect would be about perfect.
 

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If they go with a civilian vehicle, they certainly have plenty of right-hand drive options to choose from now, the Transit Connect probably being the obvious one. However, they would likely need something produced in the US and an automaker willing to make special accommodations.
 

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If they go with a civilian vehicle, they certainly have plenty of right-hand drive options to choose from now, the Transit Connect probably being the obvious one. However, they would likely need something produced in the US and an automaker willing to make special accommodations.
I'd think the Transit would be a better option, it's got more space for package delivery(Amazon) and it has a diesel(fuel economy) and it's assemble in the states.
 

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GM has the ability to do it and build it in the USA. I hope they do although Ford has an edge already with the Transit Connect..
 

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Start-stop with a quick charging and discharging capacitor bank, something like the Mazda 6, would do wonders in a FWD large minivan sized vehicle. Although it would cost more a little turbo diesel would just add so much more to that. I'm curios to see what size of vehicle the Post Office picks though.
 

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Where is the Postal Service getting $4.6 Billion? The last thing I heard was they were about to **** the bed. They're a gov't agency but the operate like an independent business from I understand and they can't manage themselves properly.

Are there any American made vehicles in the running for this? And what happened to the new-ish/refreshed vans I see running around? They aren't more than 10 years old.
 

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A nice lean clean green 100MPG Chevy van E-REV for built up urban areas

 

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IMHO this ONE order should be big enough for a maker to design and build a van in the USA
I would be of the opinion a "basic" GAS engine would be the best solution as the LAST thing the USPS needs is in 5 to 8 years to have to buy 8 MIL worth of batteries to replace there ones in there EV parcel cars
my understanding is Grumman built parcel cars for civilian usage LONG before the LLV bid was tendered BUT the LLV WAS designed for USPS and CDN post bought in to replace the AM General "postal jeeps"

I think something between the "JUMBO" transit/sprinter and the Compact city express/transit city around the size of the EU market Renault Trafic
 
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