A Short History of the USPS Mail Truck

As the United State Postal Service gears up to accept orders of the new Oshkosh Next Generation Delivery Vehicle, interest in the history of USPS mail trucks has grown. For over 20 years, Americans have seen the Grumman LLV as an iconic mail truck. And, before the Grumman, there was the Jeep DJ which was in service from the 1950s until the mid-80s. So, what is the history of the USPS mail truck?

Jeep DJ, or, the first commissioned USPS mail truck

A Jeep mail truck is on display as a delivery vehicle.
Jeep DJ | CZmarlin

In the 1950s, it became evident that the USPS was in need of a dedicated mail truck. This is where the Jeep DJ (or Dispatcher Jeep,) comes into play. The vehicle was extremely simple and utilitarian, a reflection of its role as a delivery truck. It was made out of thin sheet metal, according to MotorTrend, which helped it to handle day-to-day use.

The DJ came with two-wheel drive and it was in production from 1955 to 1984. Throughout its life, engine and transmission varied, but none were all that efficient. But, the DJ could come equipped as a right-hand drive SUV, which made it ideal for mail carriers who need to be able to put mail into mailboxes. 

By the mid-80s, it was clear that the Mail Jeep was on its final legs. So, USPS put out a call to start accepting bids on a new mail truck. American Motors attempted to win the bidding process, but ultimately Grumman won out. 

What is the Grumman LLV?

A USPS mail truck, the Grumman LLV delivers mail in a local neighborhood.
Grumman LLV | Joel Moisa

The Grumman LLV or Grumman Long Life Vehicle has been serving USPS since the Jeep DJ was put out of commission. And, while it is an iconic delivery vehicle, according to autoevolution, it does lack a lot of creature comforts. For instance, there is no air conditioning and the stock heater is prone to failure. Neither of which are ideal for mail carriers who are expected to deliver mail in all sorts of harsh conditions.

In terms of powertrains, most LLV models came equipped with the Iron Duke engine, which was also found in the Fiero sports car. And, the LLV used the same chassis as the S-10 pickup and Blazer SUV. 

Today, USPS operates over 100,000 Grumman LLV mail trucks, but that will soon change. Starting in 2015, USPS was once again on the search for a new mail truck. And this time, the truck may actually be an EV which will finally bring some efficiency to this Federal agency’s fleet.

Meet the Oshkosh NGDV

A 2023 USPS mail truck delivers mail in a suburban environment.
Oshkosh NGDV | Oshkosh

The Oshkosh NGDV is set to be USPS’s next mail truck. The contract was awarded in February of 2021, but the decision has not been without controversy. Oshkosh and USPS were criticized for not following an executive order from President Biden to make all new US Government fleet vehicles electric. While the president cannot force USPS to abide by the order, a law change could be passed in Congress to make EV fleet vehicles a requirement. 

That said, some NGDV models currently on order will be EV models. But, the vast majority will have traditional combustion engines. Moving forward, we would not mind having our mail delivered by an EV truck.

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