New USPS trucks are designed for functionality, not handsome looks.
The United States Postal Service may be struggling to stay afloat, but this semi-independent agency still must look to the future. That future includes a line of new delivery trucks, designed to replace most of the current models that have been used for several decades.
This week, the USPS unveiled its latest model, this one supplied by Oshkosh Defense of Wisconsin. Oshkosh won a 10-year contract to manufacture a new generation of delivery vehicles, which represents a $482 million initial investment by the Post Office. The company will assemble 50,000 to 165,000 of the right-hand-drive units over the next 10 years.
Gas and Electric Versions
Most of the purpose-built vehicles will be powered by fuel-efficient internal combustion engines, with up to 10 percent motivated by battery-electric powertrains. The USPS’ initial investment includes plant tooling costs and the build-out of the facility where the vehicles will be assembled.
All told, the USPS will replace much of its delivery fleet over the next 10 years, investing billions of dollars to achieve this goal. Currently, the USPS’ fleet includes 230,000 vehicles in every class, including commercial vehicles. Of that total, 190,000 deliver mail to residences and businesses six to sometimes seven days a week in every U.S. community. The first of the next-generation delivery vehicles (NGDVs) are set to appear on carrier routes starting in 2023.
“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,” said Postmaster General Louis 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.”
Doubtlessly, some will find the design polarizing, with many commentators saying the vehicles resemble a duck, due mostly to its large-billed front end. Its proportions, though, are designed to improve outward forward visibility, while delivering improved ergonomics and advanced technologies.
Indeed, the new truck will include 360-degree cameras and hold higher package volumes in response to the need to move electronic commerce. Other safety features include advanced braking and traction control, airbags, and a front- and rear-collision avoidance system that includes audio and visual warnings.
“Our fleet modernization also reflects the Postal Service’s commitment to a more environmentally sustainable mix of vehicles,” DeJoy said. “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.”
Now for the Hard Part
Oshkosh Defense won the contract, beating out several competitors for the right to serve the Post Office. After extensively testing prototype vehicles, evaluating offered production proposals, and discussing technical specifications with the various parties, Oshkosh Defense won the contract.
Under the contract’s stipulations, the USPS will have the right to order as many vehicles as required and have them delivered over a 10-year-period. As of this writing, the company doesn’t have a U.S. manufacturing location, thus the search for one is underway.
Photos copyright United States Postal Service.