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The History of the USPS Mail Truck

From horse-drawn wagons to standard delivery trucks, a number of vehicles have served the USPS, but until the 1980s, they were all selected from existing models. The Long Life Vehicle, the technical name for the iconic postal vehicles seen on America’s roadways at the close of the 20th century and beyond, first hit the streets in 1986. Unlike earlier options, the Long Life Vehicle was purpose-built for the USPS. In the 1980s, officials drew up a set of criteria for the perfect mail truck and challenged commercial automakers to create their dream vehicle from scratch. The goal was to create a mail truck that met all of the criteria and would last more than 20 years on the road. The three finalists were Grumman and General Motors, Poveco (Fruehauf & General Automotive Corp), and American Motors. They competed against each other in a series of tests that took place in Laredo, Texas in 1985. Grumman Corporation’s Long Life Vehicle, or LLV, was chosen as the winner. The mail truck’s body was made by Grumman and its chassis was manufactured by General Motors. The USPS ordered 99,150 Long Life Vehicles and with each costing $11,651, the USPS contract with Grumman totaled over $1.1 billion, making it the largest vehicle order the Postal Service had ever placed. The first of the now-iconic LLVs entered into service for the USPS in 1986. The last LLV was built in 1994. Many LLVs are still on American roads, but they are slowly being replaced by Flexible Fuel Vehicles, or FFVs, which are more fuel-efficient. Recently, the USPS began making plans to update their fleet of vehicles and awarded the contract for manufacturing a fleet of New Generation Delivery Vehicles (NGDVs) to Oshkosh Defense.

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