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USPS Orders 50K Next Gen Delivery Vehicles for $2.98 Billion

USPS Orders 50K Next Gen Delivery Vehicles for $2.98 Billion

The USPS ordered 50,000 next generation delivery vehicles for $2.98 billion (that’s an average of $59,600 each). Twenty percent of them will be battery electric vehicles (BEVs), rather than the 10% it had initially planned to order.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said based on continued evaluations and an improved outlook, “we have determined that increasing our initial electric vehicle purchase from 5,000 to 10,019 makes good sense from an operational and financial perspective.”

He noted that many of the 190,000 delivery vehicles on the road are over 30 years old and lack some basic safety features. (That means the initial order of 50,000 trucks is the equivalent of 26% of the current fleet.)

“We owe it to our carriers and the communities we serve to provide safer, more efficient vehicles to fulfill our universal service obligation to deliver to 161 million addresses in all climates and topographies six days per-week,” DeJoy said.

But not every postal carrier drives a USPS-issued vehicle. The USPS Office of Inspector General (USPS OIG) recently wrote about the rural letter carriers who use their own vehicle and receive a maintenance allowance from the Postal Service for wear and tear.

It noted that in fiscal year 2020, the Postal Service paid out nearly $583 million in maintenance allowances – a 13% rise ($71 million) over fiscal year 2015.

“Not long ago, the Postal Service started converting some private-vehicle rural routes to USPS-vehicle routes, estimating the change would save $888 million over six years,” it said, and solicited comments – “Are you a rural letter carrier, or do you know one? How does a USPS-vehicle route compare with the private-vehicle route? Does one seem more cost-effective from your point of view?”

And comment they did – the post garnered 173 responses, such as a person who wrote, “Don’t reinvent the wheel! A 4 wheel drive right hand steering jeeps already available for 42,000. For private buyer. Surely USPS could negotiate a better deal for volume as well as manufacturers warranty on these. Saving approx. 20,000 per vehicle vs. Mercedes.”

Another wrote, “USPS reimbursement for wear and tear does not come close to covering the use of a 4×4 vehicle necessary to service rural routes in Vermont. The abuse the vehicle endures causes even the best vehicles to last 1-3 years. The only right-hand drive vehicle available in the US is a 4 door Jeep Wrangler which does not hold the volume of packages caused by the Amazon contract. Carries are forced to make multiple trips to get all the packages delivered. Having the “right” vehicle from USPS would be a big improvement.”

“It’s hard to justify any savings at all when we are spending more in gas to drive all the increased Amazon packages to the door,” said another. “We should be delivering their smaller packages to the mailboxes that we already deliver the mail to. I see Amazon pulling up to the same house I am at, at the same time and they have a small little spur and I’m dragging a mini fridge out of my truck! Makes NO sense especially when supreme gas is almost $4 a gallon!”

The comments described the many challenges of being a rural postal carrier and why the right kind of vehicle is crucial. “I deliver in high sand and mud areas and the vans get stuck, a lot.” “I get a lot of ice and snow on my gravel roads and some of them are shaded with trees on both sides and usually don’t thaw out until March.”

The comments also capture why shipping carriers rely on the USPS for “last mile delivery” of packages – which, as commentors above noted, adds to the challenge of delivering on a rural route.

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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). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.

One thought on “USPS Orders 50K Next Gen Delivery Vehicles for $2.98 Billion”

  1. USPS has done a good job of managing a fleet for longevity. As said in the article they have vehicles that are 30 years old. The little vans in my area are worn, rusted and dented. If the new vehicles are of a similar quality where they can run them for a very long time, I have no quarrel about the per unit price.

    But, what has been going on? In business we replace a percentage of our fleet each and every year. That gives a constant cost that isn’t over the top.

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