If you are like many Americans, you might keep a vehicle for about six years before trading it in or selling it. The same cannot be said for the U.S. Postal Service. Its fleet of more than 200,000 delivery vehicles includes many right-hand-drive Grumman Long Life Vehicles (LLV) with an expected service life of 24 years, but nearly 70% of them are currently at least 25 years old and costly to maintain.
Although it has taken longer than expected, new USPS trucks are coming.
USPS is not simply purchasing newer models of the same old mail trucks. In 2015 the Postal Service began planning the acquisition of a fleet of what they are calling Next Generation Delivery Vehicles (NGDV).
While the plan was to begin replacing the vehicles in 2018, delays arose. After awarding the long-awaited $482 million contract for building the new vehicles to defense contractor Oshkosh Defense, the NGDV planned production deployment date is now scheduled for January 2022.
Oshkosh will finish designing and build between 50,000 and 165,000 futuristic-looking trucks over the next decade. Some of the new USPS trucks will be electric, while others will have fuel-efficient internal combustion engines that can later be retrofitted to electric.
“Our fleet modernization also reflects the Postal Service’s commitment to a more environmentally sustainable mix of vehicles,” Postmaster General and USPS chief executive officer Louis DeJoy said in a press release. “Because we operate one of the largest civilian government fleets in the world, we are committed to pursuing near-term and long-term opportunities to reduce our impact on the environment.”
The Postal Service announced the contract on Twitter with a photo of how the vehicles are expected to look.
“USPS undertook a major step toward an investment in its future with a production contract for a next-generation delivery vehicle,” the U.S. Postal Service tweeted. “The vehicle award is part of a 10-year plan to improve customer service, achieve financial stability and better support the postal workforce.”
USPS undertook a major step toward an investment in its future with a production contract for a next generation delivery vehicle. The vehicle award is part of a 10-year plan to improve customer service, achieve financial stability and better support the postal workforce.
— U.S. Postal Service (@USPS) February 23, 2021
“As the American institution that binds our country together, the U.S. Postal Service can have a bright and modern future if we make investments today that position us for excellence tomorrow,” explained DeJoy. “The NGDV program expands our capacity for handling more package volume and supports our carriers with cleaner and more efficient technologies, more amenities, and greater comfort and security as they deliver every day on behalf of the American people.”
The new USPS trucks have numerous features that were not available or installed 30+ years ago when the LLV was introduced. These features include air conditioning and heating (current mail trucks do not always have A/C), improved ergonomics, 360-degree cameras, advanced braking and traction control, air bags, and collision avoidance systems. The vehicle’s increased cargo capacity will maximize efficiency and support the growth of e-commerce.
The last time the Postal Service transitioned to new USPS trucks was during the late 1980s/early 1990s when the agency replaced Jeeps with the LLV. The first NGDVs are expected to be put to use on carrier routes in 2023.