The US Postal Service is planning to finally replace a 163,000-strong fleet of delivery vehicles that have been in service since before Amazon.com sold its first book. The familiar Grumman LLVs now in service were built between 1987 and 1994. Upkeep for the aging vehicles has become a huge drain on USPS resources, and with the trucks only getting around 10 miles to the gallon, the service spent almost $540 million on fuel alone in the last fiscal year, reports the Wall Street Journal; the paper notes that General Motors is among those chasing a contract for 180,000 "next-generation" vehicles expected to be worth around $5 billion.
In a blog post, the USPS describes fleet replacement as an opportunity to include modern safety and environmental features in its vehicles, as well as to address the huge growth in package delivery with new vehicle designs that "could address the challenges of larger and irregularly shaped items." But the Journal notes it's still unclear where the cash-strapped Postal Service is going to find $5 billion for a new fleet of vehicles when it has already reached its $15 billion credit limit with the Treasury and lost more than $5 billion in the last fiscal year. (Alaskan subsidies alone have cost the service more than $2.5 billion over the last few decades.)