United States Postal Service mail trucks are catching fire at an alarming rate and nobody is quite sure why.
The United States Postal Service is looking to replace their current fleet of mail delivery trucks. The iconic boxy design is seen on public roads throughout the country thanks to the USPS’s fleet of 140,000 Grumman LLV vans.
Although that fleet is decreasing steadily year after year as more vans burn to the ground.
According to a report from Trucks.com, 120 Grumman LLVs have randomly caught fire over the past 5 years resulting in the total destruction of the vehicle. The fires are not the result of accidents, crashes, or otherwise bad behavior. They all catch fire during the normal course of delivering the daily mail.
Despite a large number of fires, the USPS continues to use these vehicles. If it were a normal carmaker, they’d have been issued a mandatory recall by now.
Age is at least a likely factor. The Grumman LLV was first designed and produced in 1987 and has already seen its 24-year service life extended an additional 6 years. The chassis, suspension, and internal instruments are based on a 1982 Chevy Blazer, while the engine is a 2.5-L inline 4-cylinder from GM called the “Iron Duke.” It gets 98 hp and just 10 miles per gallon on average.
An investigation into the fires took place in 2014, with no single reason being put forward for the fires. Increased maintenance and repairs were put in place, but to no avail. Fires still often started in the engine compartment and then engulfed the rest of the vehicle due to the presence of easily combustible paper products.
The poor fuel economy and fire risk have added some additional impetus for the USPS to find a replacement.
Five companies have offered a prototype replacement to the USPS which all feature varying degrees of hybrid or electrified powertrains. The trial period wrapped up in February, with the USPS expected to make a decision on a multi-million dollar production contract to shortly.