Postal Reversion

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Looks like the Post Office won’t be replacing its fleet of 165,000 delivery vehicles with electric vehicles – contra the urgings (and injunctions) of the Biden Thing. 

It looks bad for him – and his regime – which have been pushing EVs almost as hard as “vaccines.” But it would be worse for the Post Office.

Bad enough that mail takes forever to get from A to B.

But if it never gets there, at all . . .

The EV’s signature fault, of course, being precisely that. They don’t get there. Not if it’s far. Not f it’s cold (or hot). Not without lots of stopping and waiting along the way. Meanwhile, the mail doesn’t get picked up – or delivered. Meanwhile, the Post Office is paying drivers to sit and wait. 

That’s a problem for a government enterprise that’s already notorious for wasting money – and time. It’s a bigger problem for businesses that expect their bills to be paid – and received – on time, too.

Whose to blame when the check isn’t in the mail? 

If the Post Office had “electrified” – and the result was it wasn’t – it is probable many business would have stopped using the Post Office. Instead, Fed Ex or DHL or some other delivery service that actually delivers – rather than postures. That would leave the Post Office with lots of junk mail to deliver.

Which it could take its time delivering, it’s true. But once that’s all that comes in the mail, it’s likely many people would get rid of their mail boxes. leaving the Post Office nowhere to deposit its junk mail.

So rather than seal its own doom as a delivery service, the Post Office will continue to use vehicles like the familiar Grumman Long Life Vehicle, or LLV – which has been in production since the late 1980s. These simple, rugged little jitneys last for decades – something lamented by the virtue-signaling “journalists” over at Automotive News.

Which they do precisely because they are very simple.

Riveted aluminum bodywork – so very light (just 2,700 lbs.). A four cylinder engine without a computer – but with a carburetor – which means it’s mechanically simple and thus easy to maintain. A three speed automatic transmission – rather than a transmission with at least seven and probably ten speeds, as is common in newer vehicles. The extra gears being overdrive gears, to reduce engine speed and increase gas mileage at highway speeds. But the LLV mostly slow-pokes from mailbox to mailbox and so doesn’t need all that to do what it was designed to do.

Which is to deliver the freakin’ mail.

This being much more important than the LLV’s averaging about 14 MPG.

LLVs may use a lot of gas, but they don’t waste a lot of time. Refuel one in five minutes and back out on the road. Electrics take at least 30-45 minutes to recover some of their charge – and that’s only possible at commercial-grade, high-voltage charging stations that are much fewer and much farther in between than gas stations.

There is also the problem of fleet turnover. Or rather, the cost of turning over the fleet not every three or four decades but once a decade – or less. Depending on how soon the electric delivery vehicle’s battery pack croaks out.

Or lights up – another problem the Postal Service probably wants no part of. Recall what happened when an EV caught fire inside the belly of the Felicity Ace about a week ago. In no time at all, 4,000 cars went up in smoke – along with the Felicity Ace, herself. It has probably occurred to someone within the Postal Procurement Office that it might not be the best idea to park thousands of electric delivery vehicles inside Postal Service buildings, concentrating and magnifying the risk of an auto da fe.

LLVs never catch fire – unless someone stuffs a gas soaked rag into the filler neck and lights a match. They run for years without fuss.

And they get the freakin’ mail delivered.

Electric delivery vehicles wouldn’t – and so virtue signaling takes a back seat to turf protecting. The Postal Service doesn’t want to be out of the mail-delivering business. For that reason, it’s not going to buy electric vehicles.

It’s satisfying to see reality smack the Biden Thing upside the head. It’d be even nicer to see the Biden Thing  made to wait for his EV. How about replacing The Beast – the modified Chevrolet Suburban made to look like a Cadillac, that weighs twice as much as the Cadillac it is designed to look like and uses three times as much gas as the Cadillac it is designed to look like – with an electric “beast” that uses no gas at all but needs a couple of hours in between “fast”charging sessions to get put-putting again? 

Of course, some animals are more equal than others.

. . .

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62 COMMENTS

  1. Personally I think a hybrid makes the most sense for mail delivery. Just put a van body on the RHD Prius. Done. Fuel efficient quiet reliable mail.

    • Hi Anon,

      The problem with that idea – bolting a van body on a Prius – is the weight. The Prius is already heavy for its size; adding several hundred pounds more (just the body, not counting all the mail) would further tax the drivetrain, especially the battery side. It is probable the service life would be reduced. There is also the issue of cost. Hybrids are on average several thousand dollars more expensive than an otherwise similar non-hybrid. This amounts to a lot of money when you’re talking ’bout a fleet buy of thousands of vehicles…

      • Mail trucks stop & go for 8 hours per day, so assuming a route of 100 miles, the difference between 20 and 40 mpg is 2.5 gallons. With gas prices of $2 per gallon, thats a savings of $5 per day. With gas prices of $5 per gallon, it’s $12.5 per day. So a hybrid saves $150 to 400 per month if gas prices stay in the current range. The Oshkosh van probably costs more than a Prius to start with.

        The Prius has nearly 2x the power of the iron Duke and the transmission is vastly more efficient than a 3spd auto. Ive seen people delivering in Seattle with a 300,000 mile Prius and they said it still got 50+ mpg with 1000 pounds of rice + lentils stacked to the roof.

  2. Good point about the Grumman vehicle, since likely in most cases, it never sees 50 mph, there’s no need for exotic drivetrains with 8 to 10 speeds (like a freakin’ BICYCLE) to ensure relatively low rpms at freeway speeds. A tried-and-true four banger, which again, since it’s going to be a low-RPM, “Torquey” application, a simple OHV engine like the GM “Iron Duke” (for once, something from “Generous Mother” actually lived up to the hype, as those 151 cube four-bangers were indeed tough), putting out, with modern EFI, about 105 ponies, will do nicely.

    The only kind of hybrid or “alternative’ vehicle I could see for mail delivery (along with diaper delivery, how many trucks does “Tidee-Didee” need, or even…AMAZON) would be a diesel-electric, with a three or four-cylinder diesel, akin to the old MB 615, kept SIMPLE. It could keep the vehicle moving at moderate highway speeds, say up to 65 mph, so taking a short freeway trip to and from the plant to destinations would be practical. Else, for the frequent start-stop, it’d depend on a modest amount of on-board batteries, to be recharged once moderately depleted, else, the diesel stays off, or, if in a frequent cycling model, the diesel is kept at a slow idle, where it consumes very little fuel. It’d be all about the FUEL ECONOMY, which presumably is a huge factor for any large fleet operator. It’d be a matter of whether this contraption had a lower life-cycle cost and/or at least as good reliability as the “dirt simple” gasoline rig you proposed, with a diesel, it should be BETTER, as long as those stupid games with trying to make a diesel what it isn’t aren’t played.

  3. While I agree that EVs would be a disaster as a mail delivery vehicle, at least for rural type routes (Might be ok for city “park and walk” routes), the Grumman LLVs are all pretty much worn out junk. They’re all at least 25 years old and need constant maintenance. And in our office, that maintenance is located FIFTY miles away. There are three in our office, and at least one of them makes a trip (usually by tow truck) every week or two to the shop. Policy seems to be to do the minimum to keep them rolling.
    Probably the best solution would be for Grumman to just make another run of them, but that will never happen.

    • It sounds like the Post Office is indeed doing that so they can lobby Congress for a fresh injection of moola to “build infrastructure”, the new buzzword for Government WASTE.

      There’s no reason not to spend some money on an engine/drivetrain rebuild for these Grumman trucks. It’s a MAIL TRUCK. What would a factory-fresh vehicle, costing likely $125K/unit by the time the Congress hands out the “pork” in it to their campaign contributors, actually do that a truck with a rebuilt engine and transmission won’t?

  4. I spent my last few years as a fleet manager for a “progressive” Northern CA city resisting the push to force-fit EV’s into the fleet. I could never find an application where they made any sense. During my last year there, my new interim boss was bucking for a promotion, so he was going to make damn sure every one of the City Council’s green lunatic goals were met. He wanted EV’s to show off to TPTB. This was in 2012, so the options were pretty limited. I defied him, and purchased ICE vehicles instead. Our last conversation was not a pleasant one, and I left the agency soon after. 99% of my efforts overlooked for the 1% green insanity.

    Good on the USPS, for this at least. Now if I can get our local transit agency to stop drooling over million dollar electric buses.

    • Hi Keith!

      One good thing about the situation is that the rubber is meeting the road, at last. Until recently, this “green” push was mostly hypothetical – talk, without any real impact on most people’s lives. At least, not enough of an impact to wake them up. They are waking up, now. I wonder whether it will be in time…

  5. 1. USPS looses oodles of money. They can’t afford the turnover required of EVs vs ICE. Also can’t afford the startup costs of fleet conversion (more expensive + installing enough electric capacity at each office)

    2. Thinking of Ukraine – what happens when EV drivers from one area have to flee en mass to another area?
    They will all run out of juice around the same place & need to recharge.
    Assuming that place still has juice, how long will it take to recharge (maybe 10s of thousands) of vehicles?

  6. Eric,

    In the Wikipedia for the Grumman LLV, it says some of them are based on the 2.2L engine that’s in my ’94 S10. Although it’s fuel injection, that little truck has been quite resilient, despite that MAP sensor problem. Hopefully I can keep it running for many years to come.

    • The 2.2 s10 is a great lil truck, my 99 is tough as nails lol, still gets 25+ mpg even with snow tires, a topper, and running dual 200 amp alternators

      • “Are you still pretending to be that guy, Dale?!”

        Haha, anyway, I agree. Sturdy little tanks they are, and pretty fuel efficient at that. I can only guess what you’re doing running 400 amps like that, though. Onboard death ray?

  7. I live in semi-rural NC and they recently started using a new mail vehicle which is still ICE, but it does have ASS (auto stop start). Not sure who makes them. Seems kind of ridiculous when they shut off for just long enough to stuff the mailbox, then have to start again. Previously they were using Jeep Wranglers with the steering wheel on the right.

    • Appropriate acronym. I found out how to turn off that feature for my 2020 Ford (con)Fusion. It was damned annoying, and I don’t even want to think about how to replace the starter if it wore out prematurely.

      Am searching for an attractive, 40ish female with an “old school” pickup truck, something like a ’73 Ford F100 with a 300 cubic inch six and “three on the three”. Send pic of truck.

  8. More and more it seems that things are not just being done to manage the human population towards some twisted minds’ idea of utopia but also to re-create a clear division between the ruling class and everyone else out of nothing more than some social desire or ego.

  9. Its nice that the USPS did the right thing. To be honest the place is full of thieving communists. They probably just didn’t want the challenge of changing the steering wheel to the right side, those EVs being so persnickety.

    The leadership of USPS will most likely incur the Biden thingies ire. In which case we may see a huge management shakeup, just before the midterms.

  10. Wow!

    I was looking forward to a new definition of “going postal”: Driving an electric car.

    On the one hand I’m bummed out, but on the other hand I’m glad they came to their senses.

  11. USPS does not have the luxury to pretend. It has to produce results, like any private enterprise must. Somewhat surprising that the USPS discovered this before many “Woke” corporations have. Those “Woke” corporations will discover it, eventually. They don’t have a choice if they want to continue doing business.

    • Yes, it must produce all kinds of results.

      Especially election results.

      Perhaps they realized that a charging time interferes with ballot disposal/stuffing and postmark time.

  12. The Postal Jeep (DJ) can not be beat for what it needed to do. A good driver could just about go anywhere with one. Wish I had one to wrench on and fix up.

    EVs? Might hit a obstacle too hard and catch it on fire. Hybrids? putting gas and electricity in the same area? Alrightythen.

    Why fix something that is not broken? Being trapped in a vehicle with a thermal runaway is not progress.

  13. It would seem to me that the gas-electric hybrid would be the ideal powertrain for postal vehicles. Certainly more practical than a pure electric drivetrain. You would get the benefits of electric propulsion for frequent, low speed starts and stops, and the gas engine to charge the battery and provide heat. And you wouldn’t need to build a charging infrastructure. Win-win.

    • Hi X,

      The problem with a hybrid postal vehicle is that it would wear out faster than something like an LLV. Postal vehicles often rack up a lot of miles and even at 250,000 miles won’t need a new battery pack.

      • The closest comparison would probably be an urban taxi, and I have heard anecdotal stories about Ford Escape hybrid taxis going 500,000 miles plus, with the original battery… even if the battery needs replacement, the smaller battery on a gas-electric hybrid is far cheaper than a full-electric battery, I believe there are places selling remanufactured Prius batteries in the neighborhood of $1500.

  14. For all the flack it receives, the Post Office was always the most well-run government enterprise (and the ONLY one to actually make a profit). The U.S. post office has always been the best run one in the world, rarely missing a delivery and getting letters and packages to customers at rates far cheaper than any private carrier could do. It has taken years of Congressional sabotage to undermine the P.O. to the point where it has had to struggle for its existence. Without Congressional meddling, the P.O. would be thriving.

    • Spooner was able to undercut the post office. Congress put Spooner out of business.

      If the PO wasn’t saddled with government problems and run like a private business it should be thriving in today’s package business. It’s sunk cost in delivery every day but sunday would allow it to beat anyone. So long as first class and junk mail paid the sunk costs the packages could be done at a very low incremental rate undercutting everyone else.

      This is something Trump didn’t understand as many others didn’t when they were so offended that the PO charged Amazon and the like less than competitors. As if that caused them lose revenue getting that work. It was practically free money for them. The incremental cost of throwing the packages on the trucks is very little.

    • Part of the problem is that the Postal Service would like to close and/or contract out many “stores” that don’t do enough business to justify their existence; but, like military facilities, just try that and see what your local Congress “critter” has to say about that!

      • They’re doing it here in Finland with Swiss electric mopeds with enormous capacity for mail in a front box and trailer (!!!). They’re doing just fine, except last week we got maybe half a foot of snow, so they didn’t deliver to us on Monday and Wednesday, since we live in such a remote part of Northern Helsinki (capital city of Finland)… Tuesday is already a lost day (they don’t deliver mail on Tuesdays any more), so they didn’t deliver Monday’s mail on Tuesday, either.

        In rural parts of Finland they’re using ICE because of long distances, and the newspaper delivery at night seems to be using Finnish Post’s trusty ICE RHD vans.

        • Hi Mark,

          One of the reasons “electrification” amounts to regression here in the U.S. is the distances routinely travelled. EVs are not capable of matching the ease/convenience/efficiency of combustion-engined vehicles, which can cover several hundred miles in all conditions and be refueled in minutes, practically anywhere. I have a 20-year-old truck that makes me far more mobile than any new EV. It’s always ready to go, right now – even if it has almost no gas in the tank. I can fill it up in minutes. I can store five gallons in my shed, so that if the power is out and the gas station down the road is closed, I can still easily travel 100-plus miles even if the tank is empty. If there’s an emergency/unplanned need, too. Much more convenient. And my truck still has its original clutch. How many 20-year-old EVs have their original batteries? Or ten-year-old ones…?

      • As a former postal worker, I never delivered a route outside a building. All addressed mail was delivered to one building, no other place.

        Opened doors to offices with a master key that opened every locked door in the building. It was my job, an important job at that. Had I not delivered mail to certain individuals, it would have been treason, really. Absconding correspondence for official government business is going to be a federal crime and some will think you are up to no good. You’ll be prosecuted.

        Do not think you can get away with mail fraud, tampering, potential national security sensitive information in your hands does get delivered, if not, there will be questions to answer, you’ll get caught. There’ll be consequences for sure. You had to be trusted.

        A cake gov job with a federal ID is one you don’t get fired from and sent to prison, ain’t worth it. You are motivated to move on, gov work wasn’t for me.

        Just another bozo on the bus is all I really was at the time.

        Chains are made for battery-powered bicycles for winter riding conditions. Specialty tires and chains are something new, always more developments.

        Brent crude is up eight dollars today to 105 USD.

        An electric bike, scooter, golf cart, might be the only choice you’ll have.

        Four dollar gas is here.

        Lots of turmoil and danger out there today. Mr. Market is jittery.

    • Mounting and dismounting a bicycle for routes where they go up to the house would make it slower than walking. For the driveway mailboxes the low load capacity and weather issues would make it not work out.

  15. Initially I thought that mail delivery trucks were just about the ideal application of EV’s. Constantly starting/stopping, short distances, quiet, no exhaust. But you’re right, the economics of the batteries vs a simple engine (didn’t know it was carb!) and the fire dangers alone trump all the other stuff.

  16. ‘So rather than seal its own doom as a delivery service, the Post Office will continue to use vehicles like the familiar Grumman Long Life Vehicle.’ — eric

    Practicality trumps ideology. With its back to wall financially (a bailout bill has been filed in Congress), the last thing USPS needs is to embark on a risky experiment with its delivery fleet.

    It wouldn’t have been just a matter of buying 165,000 EVs. What about the charging infrastructure needed in every post office lot where electric vehicles are parked overnight? USPS has no budget for that.

    Even making a budget for retrofitting existing buildings with charging stations is difficult. Rehab projects are notorious for unveiling surprises, leading to the ballooning ‘extra work’ that government contractors thrive on. But USPS is broke and can’t take such a hit.

    On a larger scale, entire countries are starting to realize that a reliable power grid can’t run on solar and windmills alone. Good green Germany just woke up this weekend, with the future of its pipelines in question, and committed to a vast gas storage project.

    Looks like John ‘Lurch’ Kerry, our climate envoy, will be the last person on the planet to get the memo (if he ever does, cocooned in his private hydrocarbon-fueled jet).

    Hell, I’d stop at the full service pump, if ol’ Lurch would fill my tank, check the oil, and clean my windshield. But he don’t know how.

  17. They could just cut out airmail and eliminate as much CO2 as converting all the delivery vehicles. Bonus if they convert the long haul routes to rail.

    • There are few, if any dedicated cargo aircraft carrying the mail. “Air mail” was another name for international mail, which, once air transport across the seas was practical, a bag or two of mail “hitched a ride” aboard most airliners. Better than a letter taking two weeks across the Atlantic. The same method of using the scheduled airlines own freight hauling (most large airliners carry freight with most flights, its VERY profitable for the airlines) is used, but the bulk of mail, pun intended, is TRUCKED…via contractors with 40-foot tractor-trailers.

  18. When I was a child our local mailman would run his route by horse. It was very rural so the horse shoe fit. Perhaps that’s the answer in the one size fits all approach to government.

  19. Good for the post office. Somebody with brains must have made the decision. Think about how many miles your average rural or suburban postal carrier travels in a day. How many times would they have to stop and wait an hour or two to charge before getting back on the road?

    When I was a youngster and just starting my business, I used to deliver newspapers at night to make ends meet. I had to use my own truck (a sturdy little Isuzu) who held up to 217K miles (in under eight years…I drove ALOT) under pretty strenuous conditions (constant accelerating and braking), rain, snow, cold, and heat. She was a tank. I cannot imagine any electric car to be able to do such a thing. Delivering in rural areas it pretty easy to travel 200 miles + a night. Also, there aren’t too many gas stations (much less those with electric chargers) in the midst of Central Virginia.

    • Hi RG,

      Yup; my area is like that. Diffuse population – some scary roads. Plus, it gets cold in winter. Imagine worrying about whether to keep the heat going – or whether you’re going to get home…!

      • Hi Eric,

        There are definitely some scary roads at night in the country. I remember one country road called Dulaney that the hairs on my neck would stand up every time I turned onto it. It was a dark gravel road, hardly any houses, and no one even had a porch or a streetlight on. All I carried with me at the time was a can of mace and a crowbar. Hubby would drive around with me on the weekends, and I remember telling him once if we ever had to kill someone this is where we are burying their body…guarantee no one would find it.

        Personally, I don’t think those electric cars have the ruggedness of being able to cross some of the terrain that one enjoys leaving in the country. They would flip out once they cross their first cattle grate! Oh my gosh, and the rocks!

          • Hi BaDnOn,

            I am hoping they don’t exist, or if they do, they aren’t hanging around Central Virginia. 🙂

            We do have our fair share of coyotes and I almost hit a black bear one night. Talk about scaring the bejesus out of me!

            • Raider,

              Dogman believers would tell you that they love forested areas like Central Virginia, and they also like to hang around with coyotes for some reason. 😉 Otherwise, hitting a black bear could be quite devastating, so don’t do that. 🙂

              • Morning, BaDnOn!

                Ok, you asked for this: True story follows…

                Years ago, when I was young and still in college, I and a small handful of friends decided to go camping at a place called Dismal Falls. We got there, set up our tents and commenced to drinking and enjoying the day. I got sleepy and went to my tent to crash out. Which I did. I awoke to my friend Joe yanking on my legs, practically pulling me out of the tent.

                “The inbreds are here!”

                What the fuck?

                Well, sure enough, they were. Three of them, in our campsite. Straight out of Deliverance. An attempt was made at conversation but this proved difficult as none of us could understand any of them. One of the girls who was with us was freaking out – probably imagining what you expect she’d be imagining about. Well, so were we.

                A fight ensued – and by the grace of James Dickey, Joe and I fought them to a standstill. Joe especially as he is a down-and-dirty fighter when it gets necessary to fight. He bit one of the Inbreds. This was a language they did understand. Eventually, they sulked away.

                After that, I have never “gone down to Aintree” without my Sig .45

                • Haha, damn, Eric! Firstly, I think I would probably not select a place called “Dismal Falls”, but I still wouldn’t have expected that. I think I’ll keep it in mind if I should go camping out that way, though.

                  Of course, I NEVER go camping unarmed. Who knows what those rustics would have done with you if they had gained the upper hand.

                  Where is Burt Reynolds when you need him?

                • Anyone who doesn’t “pack” when camping or hiking outside a campground that’s WELL-patrolled by the rangers, or likewise a well-visited, PATROLLED trail, is just asking for trouble.

                  That was part of the plot in “Deliverance”. Ed (Jon Voight) and Bobby (Ned Beatty) are accosted by two nearly-toothless mountain men, one wielding a shotgun, and we know what happens to Bobby. Lewis (the late Burt Reynolds), who’d been chiding the others for their naivete, at least figured out there was trouble, and fortunately was an excellent shot with that bow and arrow. A good thing, too, as even though by rights he ought to have been carrying a sidearm or even a carbine, gunfire might have likely drawn the “kin” or friends of those two hillbilly perverts right away, as eventually they are stalked and Drew is killed.

                  Never leave yourself vulnerable in your enjoyment of the outdoors.

  20. My Ford lifer father always believed that Ford would be doomed the minute they stopped making the Crown Vic for the cops, the reason being that the drivetrain could run for 300-400,00 miles being maintained by complete idiots who did nothing other than change the oil and put gas in the tank.

    I’m sure the same is true about the longevity of the LLVs. The Postal Service doesn’t have the money to upgrade the staff at the maintenance depots.

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