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 (118)

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  • 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

    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
  • anon

    Air conditioning please! Its like being inside of a tin can and always 20 degrees hotter in the vehicle even when its a 100 degrees outside. And all wheel drive for the snowy winters.

    Apr 26, 2015
  • anon

    More careful attention should be placed upon the exterior mirrors systems that are placed on the vehicles. Many operators of the current LLV that I have talked with say it is impossible to drive the vehicles safely because of the inadequate exterior mirrors that have been placed on the truck. New Mirror technology for such vehicles and it should be explored before simply accepting the outdated mirror technology that will be placed upon the vehicles by the manufacturers who get the bid on the new vehicles.

    Apr 10, 2015
  • anon

    I like the NEW city van that GM is coming out with looks like about the same size as the Grumman and I think it comes with the 4 cylinder engine so it SHOULD have good fuel economy just a suggestion

    Mar 17, 2015
  • anon

    As a rural letter carrier, I believe the next generation of LLV should be able to switch from 2 wheel drive to 4 wheel drive. In addition, it should be able to handle the large capacity of mail as well as parcels during the Holiday rush and the every day parcel volume. A better heating / cooling system needs to be incorporated into the vehicle as well. Other features I'd like to see included are: airbags, better widow defrosters, maybe a small lighting system for potential night deliveries, maybe a radio. As far as shape and body design, it needs to be bigger and roomier to walk in the back and have shelves for mail and parcels.

    Mar 13, 2015
  • anon

    How about adding a mail slot. My two local mail boxes are gone, so if I miss my mail carrier I must drive over to the post office. The slot should be just that with a box or a bag attached inside the truck body.

    Feb 18, 2015
  • anon

    Since the Grumman LLV is an aluminum body and can out-last the chassis it is attached to, maybe any replacement could utilize a stripped chassis and re-mount the existing fleets' aluminum body to it....

    Feb 13, 2015
  • anon

    USPS should revert back to being the US Post Office Department. Can't be profitable anyway. I don't see what USPS is trying to prove. Going private would eventually do away with the service altogether sooner or later. Let the United States have The US Post Office Department back. There was once a sense of pride being a postal worker. Now, nothing. Just another job. Very overworked employees. I basically considered myself a mule.

    Jan 18, 2015
  • anon

    To me the most important features would be: more floor space, and less blind spots if not none at all. Theyes should also be able to carry more parcels than mail since that is what our company is leaning toward. This should be obvious after the volume of parcels we had this Christmas season. I have been with the USPS for 16 year and I have never had to work on a Sunday ever before. Not even when I was a PTF.

    Dec 25, 2014
  • anon

    This issue is mute - sadly, someone likely got a huge kickback from the Dodge Ram vans that lack visibility, increase the risk of injuries to the carrier by 1) exiting the vehicle on the street side rather than the curbside; 2) the back hatch and rotator cuff issues resulting from reaching overhead to pull the door closed repeatedly; 3) working from the curbside, outside the vehicle, during inclement weather especially, but at any time; 4) virtually eliminating the efficiency and ability of letter carriers to perform the duties that they are dedicated to effectively completing.

    Dec 03, 2014
  • anon

    If the post office wants to save money, why did they force me to take a broken-down old LLV on a RURAL route when I had 4 right hand drive four wheel drive at home???? You can't leave a dog in a hot car but they can stick an old woman in one.

    Sep 19, 2014
  • 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

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