Mahindra & AM General Among Six Automakers Selected to Supply Mail Carrier Prototypes to USPS
U.S. Postal Service looks to update its mail delivery fleetby Mark McNabb, on
The U.S. Postal Service has selected six companies as finalists to build prototypes for a next-generation mail delivery vehicle. Hybrid drivetrain and new-age technologies are among the top priorities for the new vehicle. The six companies were awarded contracts worth a total of $37.4 million to produce 50 prototypes. This is only the latest development in the USPS’ quest to an updated fleet, which started in earnest in January 2015.
The new vehicle, dubbed the Next Generation Delivery Vehicle, or NGDV, will replace the long-standing Grumman LLV, the now iconic postal delivery truck that’s been in service since 1987. Despite production having ended in 1994, roughly 160,000 LLVs, which fittingly stands for the Long Life Vehicle, are still in service.
The six companies fighting for the contract award include AM General, Karsan, Mahindra, Oshkosh, Utilimaster, and VT Hackney. A few of those names likely register with most TopSpeed readers. AM General built the Humvee for the U.S. Military and the Hummer H1 for General Motors. Likewise, Oshkosh currently builds military vehicles, including the MRAP. Mahindra, an India based company, builds everything from pickup trucks to tractors and ATVs.
Utilimaster and VT Hackney build everything from fire trucks and box van enclosures to beverage and food trucks. Karsan, a Turkish company, builds vehicles like city busses.
Each company will have roughly a year to complete the project. Six months of USPS testing will commence after that in various conditions, climates, topography, and population centers. Each vehicle prototype will be evaluated for the operational needs of mail delivery.
While absolutely no information is available about each company’s prototypes, we expect to see a widespread use of hybrid or alternative fuel usage, including Compressed Natural Gas, propane, and even perhaps fuel cell technology. While coming at a higher buy-in price, these fuel-saving powertrains could realize huge long-term money savings when implemented over a large fleet for years to come.
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Why It Matters
The need to replace the 30-year-old Grumman LLV is becoming ever larger. The aluminum-intensive vehicles are showing their age and are surely becoming increasingly hard to maintain. The LLV is based on the first-generation Chevrolet S-10 and is powered by the 2.5-liter Iron Duke four-cylinder. A four-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive, front disc brakes, and rear drum brakes round out the running gear. Despite being a four-cylinder, the Iron Duke is by no means efficient by modern standards.
Replacing the LLV with a gasoline-electric hybrid, a fully electric, or even a fuel cell vehicle would drastically reduce fuel consumption over the USPS’ entire fleet. It’s no wonder why the government is looking to these new propulsion methods. This will also help combat the rising costs of operation associated with the USPS’ shrinking market share in the mail delivery segment.
We will certainly keep you posted with any information that comes from this contract war. Speaking of which, what company do you think will win the USPS contract? Let us know in the comments below.