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N4T Investigators: Delivery Dangers? Update

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TUCSON (KVOA) - Remember when we told you about some mail carrier trucks going up in flames?

We found out it was happening across the country and right here at home.

Well, USPS recently announced a major update that is expected to change mail delivery vehicles forever.

N4T Investigators- Delivery Dangers?

The United States Postal Service (USPS) has more than 140,000 Long Life Vehicles. Chances are your mail person drives one. They’re commonly called LLVS many are outdated. Some even caught on fire. From 2017 to 2020, nine did in Arizona.   

The USPS Office of Inspector General said age is to blame because nationally, 69% of the fleet is at least 25 years old. 

LLVs are supposed to last 24-years.  

Back in November, News 4 Tucson Investigators asked USPS why it wasn’t replacing trucks. At the time a spokesperson said, they began planning for new vehicles years ago but “frequent changes” to the “acquisition timeline” got in the way.  

Last week USPS announced it's replacing them with “Next Generation Delivery Vehicles” or NGDVs.  

A spokesperson said the new ride includes, “air conditioning and heating, improved ergonomics, 360-degree cameras, advanced braking and traction control, airbags, a front- and rear collision avoidance system...and automatic braking...”  

LLV’s on our streets today don’t have air-bags or cooling.   

Upgrades sound great, but will they lower the risk of vehicle fires?  

A spokesperson said, “The Postal Service cannot comment on contract details and is not providing interviews on the NGDV at this time.”   

USPS said the trucks will be “the most dramatic modernization of the USPS fleet in three decades.”  

But don’t expect to see them soon. We asked when they’ll be in Arizona. USPS couldn’t say.  

A spokesperson said Oshkosh Defense is making, “50,000 to 165,000 of them over 10 years.”  

The Postmaster General said new trucks are just the beginning. 

“It’s a critical piece of our 10-year business plan to better serve America,” Louis DeJoy, USPS Postmaster General said at a news conference. 

The plan is expected to focus on improving vehicles, technology, customer services and more. 

According to USPS, no LLVs have caught fire in Arizona since we last reported on the issue five months ago.  

Below is the full statement from a USPS spokesperson, Kim Frum who is a Senior Public Relations Representative of Corporate Communications at USPS: 

"The Postal Service cannot comment on contract details and is not providing interviews on the NGDV at this time. For interview requests on other Postal Service matters, please speak with Rod.

A 10-year contract was awarded to Oshkosh, WI, based Oshkosh Defense, to manufacture a new generation of U.S.-built postal delivery vehicles that will drive the most dramatic modernization of the USPS fleet in three decades.

Oshkosh Defense will finalize the production design of the NGDV — a purpose-built, right-hand-drive vehicle for mail and package delivery — and will assemble 50,000 to 165,000 of them over 10 years. There is no information available on the number of vehicles expected by the end of 2023.

The Postal Service fleet has more than 230,000 vehicles in every class, including both purpose-built and commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) vehicles. Approximately 190,000 deliver mail six, and often seven, days a week in every U.S. community. The NGDV, along with other COTS vehicles, will replace and expand the current delivery fleet, which includes many vehicles that have been in service for 30 years.

The NGDV vehicles will include air conditioning and heating, improved ergonomics, and some of the most advanced vehicle technology — including 360-degree cameras, advanced braking and traction control, air bags, a front- and rear-collision avoidance system that includes visual, audio warning, and automatic braking. The vehicles will also have increased cargo capacity to maximize efficiency and better accommodate higher package volumes stemming from the growth of eCommerce.

All available information can be found in the announcement press release in our online newsroom https://about.usps.com/newsroom/national-releases/2021/0223-multi-billion-dollar-modernization-of-postal-delivery-vehicle-fleet.htm . It also includes a link to the announcement video as well as concept images of the NGDV.

This is all the information I am able to share. "

Have a story you’d like us to look into? Email investigators@kvoa.com or call our tip line at 520-955-4444.  

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Alexis Berdine

Alexis Berdine is an Investigative Multi-Media Journalist at KVOA.

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