Fleet Management

Postal Service Seeking Next-Gen Delivery Vehicle

February 16, 2015, by Paul Clinton

Photo of exising USPS vehicle via Wikimedia.
Photo of exising USPS vehicle via Wikimedia.

The U.S. Postal Service will meet with automotive manufacturers in Washington, D.C., this week to field questions about its proposal to replace its aging delivery fleet with a next-generation vehicle, according to federal records.

The Feb. 18 meeting follows a "request for information" released by the USPS on Jan. 20 that included detailed specifications about the new vehicle, which will replace the Long Life Vehicle (LLV) that entered service in 1987.

The USPS plans to replace the majority of its fleet of more than 200,000 vehicles that includes 180,000 light-duty carrier route vehicles. Replacing up to 180,000 LLVs would cost between $4.5 billion and $6.3 billion. The USPS hopes to place the new vehicles into service in January of 2018.

General Motors contributed core components to the LLV including the Chevrolet S-10 chassis, 3-speed transmission paired with rear-wheel drivetrain, and 2.5-liter four-cylinder Pontiac engine. The vehicle was assembled by Grumman in Montgomery, Pa., until 1994.

"GM listens to the needs across a wide range of customers," said Robert Wheeler, communications manager for GM Fleet & Commercial. "The U.S Postal Service is an important customer, and we are early in the process of exploring potential solutions that would work for their needs."

A Ram Truck spokesman acknowledged receipt of the request for information, and a Ford spokesman said the company does not "speculate on potential customer orders." Automotive manufacturers must respond by March 6.

The USPS has said it will give out a single award for the replacement fleet by early January of 2017. Suppliers would submit prototype vehicles for testing by February of 2016.

The existing USPS fleet vehicles average about 5,000 miles per year with an average speed of 15 mph. The higher-mileage units can accumulate 20,000 miles per year. Some of the units can average more than 600 stops per day.

As part of its specifications, the USPS is asking for several requirements, including right-hand steering with a two-wheel drive and a four-wheel drive option; heavy-duty automatic transmission with traction control; enclosed, van-style body with integrated cab and cargo compenent constructed of aluminum alloy or composite materials; sliding driver door and separate cargo side door; 1,500-pound payload capacity; and rear-view camera with monitor.

The next-generation vehicle should be no longer than 230 inches, no taller than 106 inches, and no wider than 85 inches, according to the specification documents.

By Paul Clinton


  1. 1. Richard Gaskill [ February 17, 2015 @ 04:09AM ]

    Not mentioned is the Federal regulation requiring the vehicles be able to use alternative fuel.This senseless regulation caused a huge increase in fuel costs for USPS when they purchased over 20,000 FFV's (Flex Fuel Vehicles) built on a Ford Explorer chassis. The idea was to reduce the use of fossil fuels by using ethanol but very few actually used ethanol and FFV's used twice as much gas as the S-10 based 4 cylinder vehicles they replaced.

  2. 2. Bill Gordon [ February 17, 2015 @ 07:05AM ]

    Why are not electric vehicles mentioned. In watching our carrier at each mail box the engine is shut off. I am sure that starters have to be replaced quite frequently. Electric vehicles with a dead mans brake would eliminate this. fuel costs would be less and they would be quieter.

  3. 3. Rodger [ February 17, 2015 @ 10:52AM ]

    The USPS needs to seek advise from a Fleet Maintenance professional. The Idea of replacing the entire fleet all at one time or over a 3 year period is bad business. They should have been replacing about 8000 units per year, at that rate they would never have a unit over 25 years old. Any successful trucking company or delivery service replaces a set percentage of their units every year to keep their fleet from aging and keep maintenance cost down. Per your article (USPS Can't Afford to Replace Aging Fleet) USPS spends $906 Million per year to maintain the fleet, that is outrages, that's $4300 per unit per year. The Grumman LLV units are cookie cutter vehicles. They are built the same so USPS should be buying parts in quantities to negotiate pricing to keep costs down. USPS maintenance needs to be outsourced to private repair facility's. The labor rates should be negotiated to save money. I don't know but I can assume the american people are supporting a maintenance program staffed by very high payed union employees. Give this work to the private sector and save the tax payers some money.

  4. 4. Neil Larkins [ February 17, 2015 @ 02:26PM ]

    Those specs are just plain nuts. Obviously an electric (hybrid electric for longer runs) truck is the best fit, as is a hydraulic hybrid as per the Lightning Hybrids article. But the stated requirements, such as "heavy-duty automatic transmission with traction control" locks out even the consideration of same. Our beloved gummint urges we the sheep to transition to EVs, etc. but refuses to do the same for themselves. Hypocrites.

  5. 5. Nicholas [ May 14, 2015 @ 01:02PM ]

    We all need to call our legislators. The USPS is incredibly wasteful and can't be trusted to go with obvious electrics.

    The sprawling junk mail centers (main reason for USPS) should largely be closed and made to go solar.

    Don't get me started on their smoky contract long haul vehicles.


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