What should the postal vehicle of the future look like? The U.S. Postal Service recently put that question to its carriers and vehicle maintenance personnel and is currently reviewing the feedback. It’s an important question because the delivery fleet is aging and the Postal Service needs to quickly replace it. In fact, our recent audit on the topic found the current fleet can only meet delivery needs through fiscal year 2017 – and that assumes no unexpected decrease in vehicle inventory or increase in the number of motorized routes.

About 142,000 long-life vehicles (LLVs) out of the 190,000-vehicle total delivery fleet are near or have exceeded their expected service life. Replacing these aging vehicles is daunting, particularly given the Postal Service’s financial constraints.

But fleet replacement isn’t just a major challenge; it’s also a big opportunity. Because the LLVs are up to 27 years old, they aren’t as fuel efficient as newer models. They also lack many of the safety features now considered standard for vehicle fleets, such as back-up cameras, front airbags, and anti-lock brakes. The next generation of vehicles can incorporate the latest safety and environmental bells and whistles, which will protect employees, cut down on fuel costs, and help the Postal Service meet its sustainability goals. Also, given the growth in packages, new vehicle designs could address the challenges of larger and irregularly shaped items.

The Postal Service has a short- and long-term vehicle fleet acquisition strategy, but we found the plan lacks details such as vehicle specifications and green technology features. Also, despite 3 years of effort, the plan has not been approved or fully funded due primarily to the Postal Service’s lack of capital. Given the urgent need to upgrade the fleet, we are encouraging the Postal Service to make some incremental purchases while formalizing a more specific long-term plan for the next generation of LLVs.

What are your thoughts on future postal vehicles? What should they look like? What safety and environmental features or other technologies would you like the Postal Service to add? 

Comments (145)

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  • anon

    I would like to see the new LLVs have a cup holder, a built in holder for your scanner, and a radio. It would also be nice if they had power locks, power windows, and air conditioning. Also it would be nice if there were some shelves built into the back maybe going up one side to put your trays of cased mail so they don't get turned over. Then also some hideaway shelves on the other side to hold smaller packages. It would also be nice for all the shelving to have some way to secure either a tray or packages to ensure they stay stationary. Also maybe an extra added pull out from the front of your mail tray for box holders. Another idea may be to have all the trucks keyed the same and each employee have their own key with a chip to verify who the driver is. A rear backing camera would be very helpful. I would also like to suggest that EVERY route should be issued an LLV due to efficient functional POVs are becoming harder and more expensive to obtain. Four wheel drive would also be a nice added feature. Better shocks or whatever would be great. Sometimes the smallest bumps in the road and the LLV sounds and feels as if it is going to fall apart and will bounce all over the road.

    Dec 02, 2016
  • anon

    As a new RCA, my biggest concern is the safety of myself and those around me. Rear wheel drive only vehicles are the absolute worst for anything other than bone dry conditions, and living in the Pacific Northwest, that is not what we get the majority of the year. Though I've learned about and adjusted to the more minor failings of the LLV's (such as spinning out just trying to go up an inclined driveway with wet leaves, stopping, then sliding backwards), I'm terrified about having to learn about them in winter conditions...not on driveways, but on the main roads with other drivers. Snow is one thing, as chains can be put on, but we rarely get snow here. What we do get is ice, which chains are useless on...much like RWD. But, RWD isn't just useless on ice, it's dangerous! The fact that carriers spend so much time on the road and this has never been addressed does make me think that all of the talk of safety that's pounded into our heads is out of concern for the safety of USPS dollars rather than USPS people. So please, at the very minimum, front wheel drive!

    Dec 01, 2016
  • anon

    A Front wheel drive gas/electric or diesel/electric vehicle would be a forward looking solution. Every FWD drive vehicle I've ever drive is far better at handling snow and icy conditions than any RWD vehicle I've personally driven. This would also eliminate the added expense of an AWD drivetrain. Also, A/C is a must. in many parts of the country, it's not a comfort consideration, it's a health and safety issue. Delivery vehicles in use with an interior temperature of 110 degrees or more, especially on a hot and humid day is just asking for trouble. Retrofitting the current LLV parking areas with solar panels to charge the hybrid vehicles would also cut down on the power used by each station, and in some places could turn Post Offices in to Sum Zero energy consumers, or produce enough power to be considered another revenue stream in some states. Let's face it, any modern vehicle is going to be a vast improvement over the LLV, but purchase cost and cost to operate have to be considered. Move the Postal Service toward a green business model altogether, while expensive upfront, will be more efficient in the long run.

    Oct 27, 2016
  • anon

    We should be going electric for fuel. It will save a lot of money over the life of the vehicles, and all you would need is an overnight charge for almost any route in the country. Also, I'm in an area with a fair amount of rain, and mirrors with heating elements would be very welcome (especially for being able to see the pot lid mirror on the back of the truck -- on a rainy day I can't see anything in the pot lid except for my flashing lights). Also on my wish list is a better suspension! On some of those country roads I feel like I'm about to tip over!

    Oct 26, 2016
  • anon

    I am an RCA in Kansas City and our fleet is so bad they are almost all driven with major safety issues. Every LLV that I have driven can be put into gear without your foot on the brake. I drove a vehicle a few weeks ago that not only can be put into drive without your foot on the brake but you can actually take the key out of the ignition and the vehicle wiill still operate as if the key were still inserted properly. I took a video of it since it was so crazy!!

    Oct 20, 2016
  • anon

    Ford transit connect is the way to go. Raise it up to reach mailbox height and add all wheel drive with right side driving. No need for competition when the sensible solution is already made.

    Oct 18, 2016
  • anon

    You can use the ford trasit van built USA as the new vehicle because it is cheap reliable and safe. Just have Ford USA build on in right hand drive. And if they can't buy the ones bieng built by Ford UK

    Oct 04, 2016
  • anon

    Hello, The USPS should highly consider a mixed fleet, of primarily off the shelf vehicles. For example the Ford Transit Connect could likely be ordered with "right-hand-drive" format since it is sold like that in 75% of the world. These would be practical in a majority of the routes that do not require 4x4 handling over rough terrain. For the areas where 4x4 or additional handing is absolutely needed, it may just be easier to equip those FWD vans with cables & chains. Custom built LLV's in smaller quantities are still an option where versatility is needed, such as the recently built new LLV's that were phased in a few years ago. Just my thoughts.

    Oct 03, 2016
  • anon

    I'm a new CCA in vehicle training and we were told the LLV will be replaced within the next 3 years. We were told the replacement will be a full size van similar to the dodge sprinter. We were told no other information about the vehicle is known at this time. The LLVs are between 27 and 30 years old and were designed to last 25 years.

    Sep 19, 2016
  • anon

    AC is needed. If I could upload pictures I'd show pictures of it getting close to 120 in my truck. This is coming from the St Louis Area. That doesn't include the nasty humidity here. With less and less office time - we spend more time on the street now. It's not right or safe to keep employees in these conditions for hours and hours while we have to move constantly and hop out every few houses to run parcels up to a porch. It's a recipe for disaster and more and more carriers will continue to suffer from heat exhaustion, stress, or even death as time goes on.

    Sep 18, 2016
  • anon

    They should be eco friendly. Electric with gas back up. Solar panel on roof to help power fans, etc.

    Sep 07, 2016
  • anon

    the climate is getting warmer and our trucks get up to 118 degrees,its unacceptable .add the longer day spent on street you can spell disaster,many older carriers get dehydrated,even young ones,a.c. is a must.at minimum the vehicles should be designed with roof vents powered,and get no hotter inside, then outside temps.

    Sep 04, 2016
  • anon

    I think you should buy something off the shelf for regular city delivery. Then also set up parcel only routes out of 2 ton step vans. For the curbside I don't think you could beat a RHD version of a Dodge cargo minivan. Those sell to fleets for $16-18k range new. Take out the passenger seat, add a tray. They have A/C and lots of safety features. They have more cargo volume then the current LLVs. They do well in the snow with FWD. Dodge used to make huge volumes before minivans became uncool, they could easily fill the order. The RHD versions are already made in Canada and sold in other countries. Like I said, even outfitted with trays they would be under $20,000 each.

    Aug 16, 2016
  • anon

    Right hand drive- air conditioning- power steering- 4 wheel drive - good brakes - windows with wide views - thats all is needed - I don't even have an LLV - wish i did because i spend $4,000 of my own money every year repairing my personal jeep to use for this company that I don't get reimbursed for.

    Aug 12, 2016
  • anon

    The new vehicles are a must ASAP! The trucks we have now NO AC and truck can reach up to 110 DEGREES on a hot humid day that is UNACCEPTABLE! The trucks have 1 WHEEL DRIVE in the SNOW! UNACCEPTABLE! The trucks we have now LEAK WHEN IT RAINS! UNACCEPTABLE! The trucks we have now DO NOT FIT THE HUNDREDS OF PACKAGES PEOPLE ORDER EVERY DAY! UNACCEPTABLE! MANAGEMENT talks about SAFETY all the time and none of the these things are SAFE! UNACCEPTABLE! WE NEED NEW TRUCKS YESTERDAY! With AIR CONDITIONING, FOUR WHEEL DRIVE FOR THE SNOW, TALLER LOADING AREA IN BACK OF TRUCK, LEAK PROOF WINDOWS AND INTERIOR, SMALL WINDOW FOR BLIND SPOT IN THE BACK. SOMEONES PLEASE START WORKING ON THIS ASAP........SINCERELY. JOHN THE CARRIER.

    Aug 11, 2016
  • anon

    Ford Transit Connect. Right hand drive of course.

    Aug 08, 2016
  • anon

    They should be as cheap as possible. Before being approved the cost of each Cecile should be resented to the public so that we can decide if they are too expensive. I do t know why the government feels athe need to send as much as possible on everything.

    Aug 06, 2016
  • anon

    You do know the post office is the only self-sustaining federal job meaning they don't take any money from the government they just ran by the government. I don't know if you can remember when we had the federal shutdown the post office was the only federal job that was still working because we're not paid by taxpayers or government

    Aug 19, 2016
  • anon

    Keep touting the party line. Losing billions of dollars, tax breaks, not to mention the money the government pays for the upkeep of buildings and property. Look into it yourself and stop parroting the union mantra.

    Oct 08, 2016
  • anon

    It's very important to have open space around in front cab to storage parcels and have them ready for next delivery. And we all need A/C!!! Why is it not ok to leave dogs in hot car but it is ok to leave letter carriers in hot truck?!

    Jul 31, 2016
  • anon

    Ain't that the truth!

    Aug 09, 2016
  • anon

    Well Renny, leaving a dog in a hot closed vehicle is considerably different than a mailman who is smart enough to roll down the windows and use the dash mounted fan. A/C would tax the engine/drivetrain unnecessarily. Try delivering mail in your own A/C equipped vehicle, crank up the A/C and deliver a mail route in the heat and maybe you'll understand.

    Aug 06, 2016
  • anon

    Even with windows down and fan operating I still gets up to 120 in my llv. The fan does nothing but blow hot air around. Prior to having the llv assigned to my route I drove a jeep Cherokee, with a/c, it was WAY cooler than the llv. I would gladly go back to my jeep! Also, I didn't get stuck in the snow several times a day in the winter!

    Oct 03, 2016
  • anon

    You better believe I ran my AC in the hot summer when I was using my own vehicle!!!!! Maybe I just had a vehicle that was able to handle it! No troubles what so ever!! You need something much colder than a fan blowing on you when it is in the 90s and above out there. Apperantly you have never come back with HEAT RASH!!!!

    Aug 20, 2016
  • anon

    I think the new vehicle should have back up "beepers" to warn people around the truck it's backing. Backup camera and proximity warnings. Environmental controls for heat and A/C adequate enough for the more extreme climates. A radio would be nice as well. A built in gps with a mapping program designed for postal delivery, googleamos with mailbox locations. Just saying

    Jul 28, 2016
  • anon

    Doggie style window to deliver mail so that our vehicle can have ac. Heat temperatures in our vehicles here in fl are in excess of 100 degrees and heat index temperatures are dangers to our health and safety.

    Jul 25, 2016
  • anon

    I have seen many articles discussing the advantages of the USPS purchasing off the shelf vehicles as opposed to custom built. Many of the manufacturers have already put serious thought into manufacturing capable delivery vehicles with modern safety features. In the interest of running your business more efficiently and cost-effectively why not purchase these vehicles with little customization for your delivery needs and then have a vehicle that can be resold in the marketplace to others at a reasonable price. Fleet vehicles, like those from rental companies, sell well on the open market. If you were to turn over your delivery vehicles more frequently and recoup some of the cost by selling them you would then avoid the exorbitant maintenance costs. Hopefully someone will actually read this and give it some thought. Thank you

    Jul 17, 2016
  • anon

    Great idea! Selling llv's to ice cream vendors for $200 is not good enough.

    Aug 06, 2016
  • anon

    They need ac or some way to keep you cool in the summer months

    Jul 07, 2016
  • anon

    So hot !!! Need a/c in LLVs

    Jul 22, 2016
  • anon

    The vehicles should have ac. In the summer time internal truck temperatures reach up to 118 degrees and we are in that truck for a majority of our 8 hour plus day.

    Jul 07, 2016
  • anon

    I just wanted to throw this out there because I heard budget mentioned multiple times. Police agencies along with other government agencies sell their old vehicles, the crown Vic's, the BMW police bikes etc etc however the post office throws money away. Think of the gardeners, plumbers, handymen that would love to buy a vehicle they could secure their tools in, for a cheap price, or small mechanic shops that need to transport tools and parts etc etc. these fantastic small utility vehicles could be very useful. But they are unobtainable, you could help somewhat to offset the cost of your new fleet if you didn't throw away your old fleet. Just a thought. I know I would be a buyer.

    Jun 23, 2016
  • anon

    Ok first off, If you haven't signed a vehicle contract to get mass transit vehicles for city/rural dont sign it soon. Lets get to what you should really do first, the USPS need to look at what vehicles they need by sectors and regions. Meaning not a single vehicle is ideal for purchase for what your heading towards. Like for example since most city carriers have to deliver a lot by foot, a left hand drive with right hand sliding door would be ideal for them as long as they have some form of a rack system on 1 side in their back and easy access to the back from the front. For a rural carrier there needs to have several things looked at, local terrain, local seasonal weather patterns, avg route driving distance, avg parcel to expected future parcel(probably the most important factor to look at). This would determine if they only need FWD or need 4WD/AWD. Things every vehicle should get is AC, heat/defrost, good windshield wipers. Racks/cages for mail and parcels. Rural carriers could also use a side sliding window or a push flip window that could be popped into place when driver window is down to help keep the driver cool and dry, this one is a big one in places like Florida with high heat and heavy rain, a lot of the problem with LLV's seems they have leaks that aren't fixed or able to be fixed causing drivers to be at risk to get sick. Another thing to consider is not going for a super "long term" vehicle like the LLV, Think the maintenance cost will only go up with time and less parts will work as time goes as well. Most companies, and your LLV, which did well to last this long has proven this, will stop doing support for a type of vehicle no matter what after 8-10 years after production. This is nothing more than a head ache if you're looking to keep these for 20+ years. I would suggest using a number of years/mileage which ever hits first to sell this off, ideally to your rural carriers if they are interested, To get the most bang for your buck for initial cost to maintenance cost to return cost. Your LLV's are probably going to be a negative return cost meaning the money spent to keep them instead to replace/upgrade them was higher in maintenance vs what you get back in return for selling them. Most companies that do any type of fleet work keep vehicles to a certain mileage to keep the overall cost down to maintain production. This is a practice the USPS needs to start to practice, if you start to practice this, then your fleet vehicles have then become an asset just like all your employees instead of an overall expense.

    Jun 16, 2016
  • anon

    Could have something similar to the current LLV built just updated, a small 4 cylinder Diesel engine would be very fuel efficient and realizable, FWD, , rooftop Heat/AC similar to an RV, the rooftop units are more reliable/efficient, and cost less to repair than a vehicle system.

    Jun 09, 2016
  • anon

    The LLV could still be a good vehicle for many years more if the drivetrain is replaced. An engine in the 3L size would be ideal for power/economy. Replace the FFV completely- the front cabin design is VERY poor and the 4.0 engine isn't fuel efficient and too big. Perhaps a good replacement vehicle may be the FORD TRANSIT-- it is an English delivery vehicle since the '60's and it is design to be Right Hand Drive!

    Apr 30, 2016
  • anon

    Is there any future plans to replace the 2-Ton vehicles?

    Mar 30, 2016
  • anon

    I just recently worked a day with the new 2 ton. The AC and cupholders are notable improvements. Better acceleration, seems to be better fuel economy, long enough to fit one more hamper, motion sensor lights inside. The hydraulic ramp in the back may slow things down a bit since it must be raised then lowered to open the back side, but for one particular stop I have it is greatly appreciated. Turns are a little tougher to do due to the length. Also was somewhat of a pain to judge where you are in the lane, you need to drive a little closer to the left side of the road compared to the old 2-ton. Overall I really like it! Oh and unleaded instead of diesel so you can pretty much go to any gas station now.

    Jun 22, 2016
  • anon

    Since USPS seems to have a contract with or at least a good relationship with Chrysler, it would be nice to see the post office negotiate the right hand drive option on any vehicle it purchases. This may be an extra $2000 feature (I'm not sure exactly what it costs) but it would be worth it in the long run because of the versatility it would provide. If a station had an LLV breakdown they could still use this newer vehicle on motorized routes. Chrysler has the capability to manufacture right hand drive vehicles because they were still producing right hand drive jeep cherokee classics a few years ago and they currently offer the option on the jeep wrangler. If we are going to continue buying vehicles from them, can they not innovate to meet our needs? As incentive we could offer them a long term contract to replace our fleet with their vehicles.

    Mar 25, 2016
  • anon

    all wheel, or front wheel drive would be great, 65 miles in slippery, 4 inches of snow, and plow piles are are challenge. , AC would be very helpful, and intermittent windshield wipers! Also it would be nice to have a sliding window, so you could help keep rain, wind, cold out. Adjustable seats!! LLV's the tray is too high, and hurts my shoulder reaching up for mail, Thanks!

    Jan 10, 2016
  • anon

    I have been a city carrier for more then 26yrs when i started with a beat up jeep on its way out. Still i see all the comments that we need a/c we aren't the private sector company how do you think they can maintain those kind of repairs at $2000 a vehicle. Storage is the need with shelving for better organizing of mail and parcels with AWD to be more productive on the street. Oh yeah and a bigger fan!

    Jan 06, 2016
  • anon

    As a rural carrier who supplies my own vehicle, it is difficult to acquire rhd vehicles. Our options are also very limited. It would be nice if we would also be able to purchase these new vehicles.

    Dec 11, 2015
  • anon

    I am a Rural Carrier in the fooothills of Northern California. I drive an LLV and am happy with it's design. I've driven the FFV's and find them unacceptable for rural work. We are looking for space to place our trays and small parcels. The emergency hand brake over the drive line is a total waste of space. We've got to have a sliding door to reach boxes in the snow ( you can't open an axis door into a snow berm ). It would be good to be able to stand up straight in the box of the vehicle. Back up beepers. Intermittant windshield wipers.Form holders.

    Oct 20, 2015
  • anon

    I believe the new vehicles should have AC and all or 4 wheel drive. More rural carriers are using postal vehicles, which means were in the seat more than a city carrier. I'm in my LLV 5 to 6 hrs a day. It was 112* in mine this summer

    Oct 19, 2015
  • anon

    That would be nice, but thats not gonna happen! It's gonna cost the post office more money, with maintenance and burning gas, in fact they paid to have the ac taken out of the current one

    Feb 27, 2016
  • anon

    I think you guys really should consider air conditioning for the carriers that run in places like Arizona and other very hot places. It would speed up the delivery system as you feel better when you get take a few moments out of the heat to cool off and possibly decrease human error. Being over heated can cause you to miss seeing that mailbox, curb, and other careless mistakes that occur when you are so hot you can't even see any longer cause the sweat is in your eyes.

    Aug 28, 2015
  • anon

    Are the new LLV's going to have 4WD or AWD and AC? These two options are very important.

    Aug 16, 2015
  • anon

    intermediate windshield wipers

    Aug 11, 2015
  • anon

    A/c would help with service speed and longterm empolyment issues it getting a 115 to 120 in those llvs your giving us rual route carriers

    Jul 15, 2015
  • anon

    The Ford Transit Connect with a factory right-hand drive would be the ideal vehicle. The fuel efficiency alone raises eyebrows, but the deceptively large interior storage, broad range of backup camera and mirror combinations, and low per-unit cost should seal the deal. I'm thinking of buying one and paying for factory modification myself as a proof of concept. Loaded retail starts around $25k, but with a bulk purchase order we would likely get the units for less than the cost of the current LLV. This comes (in Texas anyway) with AC standard, and heat, both of which are effective in the entire cabin and cargo area. The ONLY modification I would recommend would be a shortened front axle to mirror the tight turn radius capability of the LLV. If this isn't on the USPS short-list then I would certainly re-look the preferred providers.

    Jul 11, 2015
  • anon

    Air conditioning, all wheel or four wheel drive, and airbags would be an added improvement over the current piece of crap vehicles that we driving now.

    May 24, 2015

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