A Closer Look At The New Postal Vehicles

You may have noticed a new United States Postal Service (USPS) vehicle in the headlines recently. It resembles the traditional residential delivery vehicle that has been in service since 1987, but there are a few new design choices that may cause you to do a double-take.

 

While the design changes are striking in some ways and subtle in others, these changes have been made as part of a 2015 effort to create a Next Generation Delivery Vehicle (NGDV) for the USPS.

Although plans for the new postal vehicles were created nearly a decade ago, the contract for manufacture wasn’t awarded until February 2021. Despite bids from companies like Workhorse and Mahindra, the winning bid came from Oshkosh Defense, a subsidiary of Oshkosh Corporation.

The plan is to create 160,000 new postal vehicles that will replace the current aging fleet. The vehicles will be manufactured in Spartanburg, South Carolina with parts expected to be sourced from companies like Ford.

According to the contract awarded to Oshkosh Defense, the initial cost of the project is expected to be $482 million. This is to pay for startup production costs as well as re-tooling at factories that will be involved in the final production.

What’s New In This Next Generation Delivery Vehicle?

In terms of looks, the new USPS delivery vehicle features a slimmed-down hood and front bumper section where the engine compartment resides. The back of the vehicle still features a roll-up door for loading and unloading parcels, but the back now has a sharper angle compared to its predecessor.

Additionally, the windshield is given much more open space, and the driver and passenger doors are now elongated to take up almost half of the vehicle’s side length.

Ergonomics and space have been major focal points in the redesign. The new delivery vehicle model is taller, allowing delivery drivers to stand up in the vehicle itself, and the cabin and seats have been ergonomically designed for added comfort and less strain.

Of course, a modern upgrade wouldn’t be modern if it didn’t include advanced technology features, so the NGDVs all feature 360-degree camera systems that provide added security when maneuvering in tight spots as well as front and rear collision avoidance systems.

One interesting thing to note is that the older generation of delivery vehicles did not feature air conditioning. Postal workers in warmer climates can rejoice, however, as the newer models do now include this luxury.

The New USPS Vehicles And Environmental And Emissions Concerns

One of the biggest concerns surrounding the design choices incorporated into the new Postal Service vehicles has been clean energy usage. The initial plan was to create USPS electric vehicles that did not rely on internal combustion technology at all, but the final model is actually a hybrid that takes advantage of electric vehicle technology with capacity for enhanced expansion in the future.

This caused some concern among politicians and environmental activists as the Biden Administration has set a goal for all government vehicles to reach zero-emission status by 2035. USPS electric vehicles were a target for this goal, but plans ultimately led to a hybrid design for most of the fleet instead.

Currently, the initial roll-out of redesigned vehicles will feature all-electric technology in only 10% of vehicles produced. The plan, however, is to convert the entire fleet to all-electric battery power at some point in the future.

Credit: Weixi Zeng

Additionally, there has been some controversy surrounding the weight of the vehicle as it relates to emissions standards. The new postal vehicle is expected to have a payload weight of 2,941 pounds. This classifies the vehicle as a heavy-duty truck, and it is therefore not subject to tighter restrictions placed upon lighter vehicles. 

If the new postal vehicle weighed in at 2,940 pounds, one pound less than the current projection, it would then be subject to stricter standards for emissions.

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