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 (135)

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  • anon

    New or old vehicles, USPS should use the AlphaTherm Heated Wash system in the cold climates for safety reasons. The drivers spend too much time in the ice and snow.

    Aug 26, 2014
  • anon

    Why not just use Ford Transit Connects? Fuel efficient cheap FWD, so they handle snow well large storage capacity cheap parts because they're based on the Ford Focus And I think they're good looking.

    Aug 14, 2014
  • anon

    AIR CONDITIONERS PLEASE

    Aug 07, 2014
  • anon

    Do a survey in the office. Why have we not heard about this? Not all parts of the country need 4WD, all parts of the country need AC. Better organization in front where all the action takes place. A better working tray for more than 3 trays of mail, or a 4th bundle. Spots for tubs for collection mail. A place for your slough tray, pens, forms, cup holder, etc. Definitely better heat and air flow. A radio would be nice too.

    Aug 05, 2014
  • anon

    Need to be able to turn these things around one in picture looked huge cant imagine getting into some of my places where I turn around in small spaces? This is why we now have inset tires so we can turn around on a dime. Air heater radio ?

    Aug 05, 2014
  • anon

    Most important is front wheel drive. My route is 50 plus miles in the northeast. A good front end (wear too many tires out). A good heater and ventalation system. A taller ceiling so I can stand, easier on the back. The intermittent wipers would be great also. Alot of vehicles come standard with a radio.

    Aug 03, 2014
  • anon

    In regards to the Ford transit Connect......OIG response was that right hand drive is needed for delivery.....Ford makes right hand drive....Google ford transit connect for sale in England...you'll see lots of right hand drive. Ford, USPS and Rural Carrier union should cut a deal for carriers to buy right hand drive transit connects..... Win, win, win situation......Nah, that would be too easy.

    Aug 02, 2014
  • anon

    uber Here's your answer. Don't buy any assets. It's not like mail has to be delivered every day. End of Recommendation!

    Aug 01, 2014
  • anon

    The new vehicles need a back up monitoring system not a distracting camera. These monitor systems can be found on many new vehicle and alert the driver if any objects that are behind the vehicle. All wheel drive models should be available to areas/ routes that require them, not all of them. AC is going to happen we already have it in all the mini vans, tractors and cargo box's. A low oil warning light is a must, 90% of all LLV motor failures can be attributed to low on oil! Custom building a vehicle body comes with its downfalls, the LLV had so many modifications after it was produced I lost count. using a production vehicle with some slight modifications make more sense. Safety features like air bags, and anti lock brakes are going to be standard no mater who builds the chassis. The LLV has been a good vehicle compared to the old jeeps, they were all off the road and junked after 15 years due to rot.. The only reason the LLV has lasted so long is due to the aluminium body ( the new vehicle should be aluminium) and of course the quality service from your friendly VMF.

    Jul 31, 2014
  • anon

    For safety features. I would recommend that all new Postal vehicles that turns on headlight automatic when in use. And yellow light flashes when doing mounted/dismount deliveries. Automatic stop when backing up and there's object in blind spot behind you. Please A/C please!! Cupholder also. Thank you!

    Jul 31, 2014
  • anon

    I think, like passenger transportation being thrust forward, UBER allows a person requiring transportation to hook up via the internet. The USPS should employ UBER type technologies to rent/lease delivery vehicles instead of buying, managing, and administering their transportation requirements. Buying vehicles is silly as the advent of cluster boxes should end the silly -need of postal delivery vehicles.

    Jul 30, 2014
  • anon

    It would be nice if they incorporated real-life suggestions from the carriers, but I can see from the design that they really did NOT take carriers' needs into consideration. This vehicle is larger/longer than an FFV meaning it'll be difficult to drive on certain roads [such as taking the turn from Walker to Upper Vine in Charleston]. They have done away with the window behind the right front window [a feature of the FFV], meaning it's harder for the carrier to see vehicles coming up from behind. It sits lower than an LLV or FFV, meaning steep bumps will drag the belly of the truck and may damage the exhaust system. The larger front window makes for excess light coming into the vehicle, blinding a carrier who is facing the sun. It will also increase the heat from the sun's rays, which a little fan can't dispel. And what is the vehicle's construction? LLVs and FFVs are primarily aluminum bodies meaning they're fairly light; if this thing is made of steel, it's going to take more gas and more maintenance than the older vehicles. Last but probably most importantly, there is no door on the tray side of the vehicle. How is a carrier to load trays... through the back? That's not safe for the carrier due to lifting the trays from the floor and placing them 3' or more onto the mail shelf.

    Jul 30, 2014
  • anon

    They should have ac, more room for parcels and more leg room! Those of us over 6ft are cramped.

    Jul 30, 2014
  • anon

    I hope that new vehicle come with AC! Arizona 115' temp we really need AC! Plus cups holder I always spill my drinks when I turn LLV..

    Jul 30, 2014
  • anon

    Air Conditioning for carriers who work in extreme heat areas that have excessive heat warnings from the national weather service. Shelves in the back that have a place for dps, a place for residual trays, a place for ads, a place for tubs, and shelves for parcels, etc. The front area should have a place for tubs for outgoing mail & bring back mail. Also a storage compartment for hold cards, pens, supplies, etc. Should have air bags for our safety in case of an accident, factory tinted windows to help with glare from sun & heat and it also helps from everything burning you in the summer like the seat/steering wheel/door. A place to cradle the scanner. A charging station for our personal cell phones since mngmt likes to call our cell phones while we're on the street and since we have to CALL by 3 pm & by that time our cells are dying of battery life and we can't call by 3 pm and the rest is history. A cup holder for our water/soda/coffee so it don't spill all over the mail. A walkway to the back of truck to get parcels so we don't have to climb over crouched down and throw our back out. Power windows would be nice cause customers seem to think we have power windows and rolling it up and down manually from a business delivery to a park and loop delivery to an over the curb delivery, we have to get out and go to the other side and roll it up or down and in a different delivery situation we have to go back out to other side of truck and roll it up or down because we need air and there's no AC! Windows in the back and on the side so we CAN SEE CARS around us more clearly. There's so much more but that'll be a good start.

    Jul 29, 2014
  • anon

    Many of these additions sound sensible and valid. Being a CCA who now has to work on Sundays for Amazon parcel delivery I would like to see the new fleet be equipped with shelves much like in the 2-tons we currently have or netting bins for parcel grouping. I outfit each LLV I use on Sundays with my own netting as a means to keep the parcels in some order so they do not get into disarray as I clunk around town. I would go further and suggest some sort of tray or bin be equipped on the new fleet that allows carriers to safely store their lunches and provisions.

    Jul 29, 2014
  • anon

    Any redesigned USPS delivery truck should include: A) At a minimum, have posi-traction (both rear wheels have power) or front wheel drive with traction control. All wheel drive suggested as best. B) Insulation barrier between the engine/transmission/catalytic converter and the vehicle interior. I put a thermometer on the floor of my LLV on the hottest upstate NY summer days and it would max out at 124*F. C) "Normal" size windows. Current LLV's are like driving around a greenhouse in the summer sun. D) A built-in, bright, LED flashing/warning light in the rear. The hazard flashers are so ineffective. E) Built in racks to hold trays in the rear cargo area. F) Current auto industry safety items such as a back-up camera, four wheel anti-lock brakes, airbags etc.. G) A "hotter" heater with a real distribution system and a real defroster. H) Driver pleasing features....air conditioning (leased USPS mini vans here have air conditioning and are used on park and loop routes), a 12v power outlet and how about a darn cup holder?

    Jul 29, 2014
  • anon

    All wheel, or at least front wheel drive. Intermittent wipers, a cheap am/fm radio, so u won't die of boredom on mounted routes. Retractable shelves. AC is a waste, of fuel and it won't stay cool in & out. Maybe a plastic holder for COA cards, hold cards. 3849's Pens. Safety Air Bags, AL Brakes, a seat belt that dosen't go across your neck. A tray system that u can fit tubs under. Room for DPS trays in the left door well.

    Jul 29, 2014
  • anon

    Air conditioning in a postal delivery vehicle is unrealistic given current financial conditions. But a little insulation between the engine and the carrier certainly shouldn't be! I hope they don't come up with a larger design. The sliding doors, small size, and short wheel base are essential for maneuvering and efficient delivery. Also, if they want us to have our headlights on all the time, they really should be wired that way!

    Jul 29, 2014
  • anon

    Electric vehicles are the perfect candidate for replacement in urban and suburban areas. I've been driving EVs for the past 3 years. The one that comes to mind right away is the Nissan e-NV200, which is their small delivery van fitted with the powertrain from the LEAF. They already manufacture RHD NV200s for the Japanese home market, but the vans for the USPS could be put together alongside the LEAF at their plant in Smyrna, Tennessee. The Ford Transit Connect EV would have been a good choice, but unfortunately Ford has discontinued it due to a supplier going out of business. EVs have a higher up-front cost, but the long term costs are dramatically lower since there is very little routine maintenance required and fuel efficiency exceeds 100MPGe in the city (plus no lost energy when stopped because there is no idling necessary in an EV).

    Jul 29, 2014
  • anon

    I drive an FFV which I love. It is much better than the LLV, but when my truck is down and i have to drive one of those unpleasant LLV's i always say that they need a design where you dont have to climb up a big step to get to the gas pedals and make a truck that's not as loud. The FFV's are loud too, but it's a powerful good type of loud. The LLV's are loud but they have that dying, struggling loud sound that sounds like they have no muffler, and is incredibly annoying.

    Jul 29, 2014
  • anon

    Part of the problem is the way you self-entitled clowns use and take care of them. I have personally witness our local carrier drive to EACH and EVERY house, stop the truck, turn it off, deliver to ONE house, then start it again and drive to the next house. Of COURSE that makes for extra wear and tear. And he's not the only one as I've seen others doing the same. When you inefficient, overly self-serving incompetent and unintelligent clowns learn to operate like it's YOUR money you're wasting, instead of ours, then we'll feel sorry for you, and understand your problems.

    Jul 29, 2014
  • anon

    The postal service requires the carrier to turn off the vehicle each and every time the carrier steps out of it. Now, on your street, maybe walking to each and every house would be more efficient. Also, each time we stop (to deliver) we are required to pull the hand brakes and curb the wheels. I am a carrier.

    Jul 30, 2014
  • anon

    I'm 50 years old, for most of my life, Mail Carriers carried the mail and actually (gasp) WALKED and delivered to streets full of houses in a row. Then the inefficiency, laziness and greed took over. Turning it off is fine, but must you drive to EVERY SINGLE HOUSE??? Walking won't kill ya.

    Jul 30, 2014
  • anon

    First we are required to shut it off at every stop and as for walking some routes that would work but for my route it would be totally inefficient as /i deliver well over 100 parcels a day which would mean first i Would have to walk the letters and flats then drive up and down the street to deliver the parcels for that street since there would be no way to carry them with me. So now it takes more time to deliver the same amount of mail as I have had to cover the same area twice.

    Mar 03, 2015
  • anon

    But you're not required to stop at every house. Nice try, though. Funny, mailmen before never had this problem, and got paid less. Go figure

    Mar 07, 2015
  • anon

    A little late on the subject, but im not sure where you got the idea that we are paid more now. On the topic of vehicles, there is a difference between a mounted and walking route. Our parcel market has sky rocketed. And on a final note, you should really have more respect for mail carriers. It is a labor intensive and for the most part, thankless job. Have a fabulous day

    Nov 15, 2015
  • anon

    While working in SW Florida, we experience oppressive heat during our summer, a Steel Mesh, or some type of Kevlar, similar to the pull down hurricane screens for our back door would be great for air movement,. Secured during delivery, and while parked the actual door is down and locked. Just a thought. Tired of stewing in my own juices...

    Jul 29, 2014
  • anon

    Hey Paula Great idea about the back door, believe it or not I've already implemented this program in my LLV it is made of expanded 1/2 " metal, works prefect. Email for a photo.

    Jul 30, 2014
  • anon

    Intermittent windshield wipers - PLEASE!! and a cup holder. Racks or shelves in the back - way too much wasted space in the back of an LLV.

    Jul 29, 2014
  • anon

    Bicycles and Trikes were possible. Then motor trikes, then super fuel efficient LLVs. In 5 years, 5 mail trucks have crapped out in my driveway or on my street. They have to send another vehicle, transfer mail and tow away beater. What a waste.

    Jul 29, 2014
  • anon

    Thanks for the suggestion. Many European foreign posts use bicycles and scooters, due to their environmentally friendly emissions. Not sure how they fit all those Amazon packages on the back, but would that work for some of the shorter, urban Postal Service routes?

    Aug 01, 2014
  • anon

    #1 Seriously consult active carriers on the requirements. By this I mean actually ask , take the suggestions and implemement them into the design. WE are the ones with the experience and the knowledge of what is needed.

    Jul 29, 2014
  • anon

    AMEN!!!!! That monstrosity they show proves they didn't take anyone's input into consideration.

    Jul 30, 2014
  • anon

    IMHO I can't understand why the USPS isn't the cheapest delivery option for businesses. You go to the same addresses everyday so why wouldn't you offer cheaper prices than either Fed-Ex or UPS? Both Fed-Ex and UPS sometimes have to drive miles between deliveries yet THEY ARE BOTH PROFIT MAKING COMPANIES. Grow the USPS business by offering BIG discounts based on volume, just like Fed-Ex and UPS. Once the business is expanded, LARGER more efficient vehicles with air conditioning would pay for themselves from the additional revenue.

    Jul 29, 2014
  • anon

    We are not allowed [by Congress] to run at a profit, meaning any excess monies received wouldn't go toward a new fleet... they'd go toward Congress' pet projects. As far as giving a deep discount goes, we already do that for bulk mailers [who are keeping us afloat], nonprofits, and mail for the blind and handicapped [free shipping]. We also provide free shipping from our troops to the United States. There comes a point when reductions are too overwhelming. As far as FedEx and UPS being cheaper, I don't have a clue where you came up with that. Virtually all of our prices are lower [sure, we don't ship over 70 lbs] and we deliver free on Saturdays. When you comment on them being profit making companies [which the post office can't be], you don't realize that we do last-mile shipping for both of them. That means that a FedEx or UPS truck pulls up to a post office's dock and offloads pallets of THEIR packages for our carriers to deliver. How can they be cheaper than us when they're paying us to deliver their packages?

    Jul 30, 2014
  • anon

    Tanya I assume you work for the post office but I'm not sure in what capacity. I will try to address each of your comments. 1. Congress does not allow a profit.... That will not be a problem for A LONG TIME since USPS is running at over 9 BILLION dollar deficit per year. 2. deep discount goes, we already do that for bulk mailers....That's for envelopes less than 3.5 oz. I'm talking about discounts to Large Retailers who ship packages, not mail. Both Fed-ex and UPS NEGOTIATE their rates with EACH company. NO RETAILER pays the Fed-ex and UPS listed rates. Even I get negotiated rates and I'm a home based business. 3. last-mile shipping... I'm very familiar with Fed-ex Smart-Post and UPS solution. How can they be cheaper? Here's an actual 5 lb package I shipped today. USPS Parcel Select cost: $14.28 My Fed-Ex Smart Post cost $11.32 That's OVER 20% less than USPS. Fed-Ex and UPS DON"T WANT HOME DELIVERY, they want business to business. If the USPS went after BB they would be able to undercut both Fed-Ex and UPS rates sins USPS ALREADY GOES TO THAT BUSINESS EVERYDAY. (They probably even hold the door open for the Fed-Ex and UPS drivers as they pick-up/deliver their packages. meanwhile USPS is delivering 1st class mail) Perhaps Congress is the problem, maybe it's time to privatize USPS or Spin off everything except first class mail. Just my opinion.

    Jul 30, 2014
  • anon

    That Fed-Ex SmartPost is the USPS, UPS SurePost is also USPS. They are less because each company takes portion. If you look at the services that are 100% picked up and then delivered by just one carrier, you will find USPS is usually lower. USPS does negotiate special rates with large mailer's but your home business is not "large". We are talking Amazon, Gap corp, Victoria's Secret, etc. The Post Office is not really set up to move packages by air. People seem to have a need for getting stuff in 2-3 days, not 6-7 days. The USPS would need to buy a fleet of jets to cover what you want. The UPS and FedEx deals are a win-win. They have the Jets,the USPS is going to the houses everyday anyway. FedEx and UPS would love to just work storefront businesses and leave the suburbs to USPS. I would be for privatization as a 16 year letter carrier, a 16 year UPS or Fedex driver gets paid more then I do. I just don't know how that would lead to lower costs. Most likely FedEx or UPS would be the one taking over the contract. How is less competition better for prices?

    Aug 16, 2016
  • anon

    I think the USPS has been totally ignored. What A shame if the government allows an iconic part of America to just DIE! It would be awful not to have the option to "mail" letters and packages throught the us postal system because the government won't fund the vehicles. Congress has made it impossible for them to function in today's economy, because they are required to have unrealistic monies put aside for pension of people who do t even work there yet. I would love to know where all that pension money is being kept and who exactly has access to it!! I'm just saying!!

    Jul 29, 2014
  • anon

    Any excess money the post office earns [profits, the pre-funding, whatever else] is subject to the whims of Congress. They have always taken the profits and used them for their own pet projects; I'll bet they're using the mandate for another piggy bank.

    Jul 30, 2014
  • anon

    1st and foremost, the USPS in not government funded. Income for the USPS is from stamps, parcel sales ect.... Postal employees believe the money has been used for the pet projects of the GOA/gov agencies...including the wars which is why it is so hard for them to think of trying to return the monies back to the USPS.

    Jul 29, 2014
  • anon

    The new vehicles should be environmentally cleaner. The scenario seems perfect for electric, which are of course better for the environment. Many electric vehicles with the size of a sedan must be recharged after given the small delivery area, which is probably comparable to a delivery driver's area. I run an ecommerce store and ship with USPS every day.

    Jul 29, 2014
  • anon

    Unfortunately, most carriers don't have a small service area. We have carriers who do 40 miles or more every day; when you talk about a heavy vehicle full of heavy mail, you're not going to get much mileage out of an electric engine. Maybe a hybrid like a Prius, with both self-generating power and gas; or, to improve upon that, solar panels on the roof like the highest models of Prius. [Not that I think we should buy Toyota, but that's a good model to work from.] My last route was about 20 miles per day [not including carrying extra mail off of other routes], a minimum of six hours on the street; the one before that was about 12 miles plus carrying extra, a minimum of seven hours a day. Both of them were strictly mountainside. We don't all do in-town driving.

    Jul 30, 2014
  • anon

    Just my 2 cents on he electric idea.... We could put solar panels on top of the vehicles to continually recharge throughout the day. I know it isn't much, and you'll have days that aren't sunny as well, but that would cut down on charging costs at the offices. Only have them plugged in at night....

    Aug 13, 2014
  • anon

    Thanks for your comment. With the range of different types of routes carriers deliver, maybe the Postal Service needs to consider purchasing several different types of vehicles, instead of buying one vehicle that must meets the needs of every route.

    Aug 01, 2014
  • anon

    Exactly! More heat for the northern regions, air for the south. All wheel drive for the icy mountains. Larger models for heavy parcel routes. Subaru has a fine machine, and used to make a RHD.

    Oct 07, 2015
  • anon

    The vehicle should have bathroom it's not fair that we work so hard no time for lunch nor bathroom we should have bathroom and air conditioning

    Jul 29, 2014
  • anon

    I think the US POSTAL SERVICE should,,start ,converting current fleet to natural gas or propane . All other major industries, are already moving in that direction.

    Jul 28, 2014
  • anon

    Thanks for your comment. This may surprise you, but the Postal Service currently has about 500 compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles in their fleet. Many of these vehicles are located in Texas.

    Aug 01, 2014
  • anon

    What about the MVS fleet??? Our trucks have well over 350,000 miles on them we have more RYDER trucks in our fleet then postal because of the breakdowns. Our Tractors one has over 600,000 hard miles on it all these truck do hard city mils not all highway , just my 2 cents .

    Jul 28, 2014

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