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USPS’s Aging Delivery Fleet to Conk Out in 4 Years

The U.S. Postal service has a big problem: aging delivery trucks and no money for capital expenditures. The aging fleet of delivery trucks is a major concern – some vehicles are 27 years old.

The USPS Office of Inspector General (OIG) says the current fleet can only meet delivery needs through fiscal year 2017. That assumes no unexpected decrease in vehicle inventory or increase in the number of motorized routes. This is not welcome news for online sellers relying on the postal service to deliver their packages.

It’s not a new issue, and in 2010, the OIG said it would cost approximately $4.2 billion to replace the entire fleet.

This month, the OIG said about 142,000 long-life vehicles (LLVs) out of the 190,000-vehicle total delivery fleet are near or have exceeded their expected service life. “Replacing these aging vehicles is daunting, particularly given the Postal Service’s financial constraints.”

But it also called it an opportunity. New trucks would be more fuel efficient and have safety features now considered standard. And with the growth in packages, new vehicle designs could address the challenges of larger and irregularly shaped items.

The Inspector General’s office found the Postal Service’s short- and long-term vehicle fleet acquisition strategy lacking details, such as vehicle specifications and green technology features. “Also, despite 3 years of effort, the plan has not been approved or fully funded due primarily to the Postal Service’s lack of capital. Given the urgent need to upgrade the fleet, we are encouraging the Postal Service to make some incremental purchases while formalizing a more specific long-term plan for the next generation of LLVs.”

The USPS OIG is looking for feedback – “What are your thoughts on future postal vehicles? What should they look like? What safety and environmental features or other technologies would you like the Postal Service to add?” You can leave a comment on the agency’s blog.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.