Postal Service Testing Karsan Plug-in Hybrid Mail Truck

March 05, 2018 by Carly Schaffner, @carlyschaffner

The U.S. Postal Service is testing a prototype of a plug-in hybrid mail truck from Karsan Otomotive, a Turkish truck maker.

The truck, one of a series of prototypes from five different manufacturers competing to build the next mail truck, is undergoing tests on pavement and rural dirt roads in the Midwest.

Photos taken by Trucks.com last week show that the prototype that Karsan is building with team member Morgan Olson is a plug-in hybrid. There are ports on two sides of the truck. One on the right side of the vehicle over the front wheel looks to be for electricity. There’s a conventional gasoline port above the left rear wheel.

Karsan will provide the hybrid technology. Morgan Olson, a Sturgis, Mich.-based manufacturer of walk-in vans that has a longstanding relationship with USPS, will manufacture the body. Karsan has designed and built more than 277,000 gas and electric cars as well as specialty automobiles in Europe.

Karsan mail truck back

(Photo: Brian Williams/Trucks.com)

Karsan mail truck side

(Photo: Brian Williams/Trucks.com)

The USPS has said that half the prototypes “will feature hybrid and new technologies, including alternative fuel capabilities.” 

It might be the oddest-looking of the five prototypes competing for the lucrative USPS truck order. Its low-slung boxy hood projects forward under the windshield. Bulky sideview mirrors — resembling monkey arms — are suspend from both sides of the upper cab.

There’s a sliding cargo door on the right side of the truck.

The vehicle carries the USPS eagle logo painted on each side and has the Karsan nameplate on top of the grille between the headlights.

The truck appears to have a high-mounted back-up camera or cargo deck monitor. It was spotted undergoing road tests in frigid winter conditions.

Karsan mail truck passenger side

(Photo: Brian Williams/Trucks.com)

The USPS will choose models from the prototypes to replace up to 180,000 aging mail trucks. Of the 215,000 in operation, 140,000 are at least two decades old.  The changeover — which may be incremental, replacing 12,000 trucks at a time — could take place over the course of seven years. The contract is worth an estimated $6.3 billion.

There are five contenders in the competition, which the USPS has named the Next Generation Delivery Vehicle, or NGDV, program.

In addition to the Karsan/Morgan Olson team entry, VT Hackney/Workhorse Group also are participating as a duo. The Hackney prototype is an electric vehicle that shares many components with the Workhorse W-15 electric pickup truck.

South Bend, Ind.-based AM General submitted an internal-combustion engine truck with start-stop technology for improved fuel efficiency. The manufacturer builds the military Humvee and once made the civilian Hummer H1 before the brand was shuttered by General Motors.

AM General also has an existing relationship with the USPS. It built the Dispatcher Jeep — the first civilian model of the military Jeep — which was used by the agency as a delivery vehicle into the early’90s.

The U.S. division of the Indian manufacturer Mahindra, known for building right-hand drive commercial vehicles, entered a truck with a mild hybrid system, according to a National Highway Transportation Safety Administration filing.

Another entry comes from Oshkosh Corp., headquartered in Oshkosh, Wis. It manufactures vehicles such as aircraft rescue and fire trucks, snow blowers and tactical vehicles and has a long history of contracts with the federal government. Oshkosh and the USPS have not provided details on its entry.

“Real-world” testing of the prototypes started last fall. The USPS has been running the trucks up against extreme weather conditions and varying landscapes in Flint, Mich.; Leesburg, Va.; and Tucson, Ariz. Other test locations include Tempe, Ariz.; Utica, Mich.; and Manassas, Va., according to the USPS.

Previously the USPS said it would choose the contract winner in early 2018. On Friday the agency declined to comment on the status of its decision.

Read next: Here’s The Next Generation USPS Mail Truck Prototypes

32 Responses

  1. Brenda Anderson

    Hi I’m a mail carrier, have been for 24 years. I have a recommendation for the long awaited new mail vehicle. If it runs on gas please put the exhaust up away from curb and/or on the other side of the vehicle. This is crucial for curbside delivery. Thank you in advance. Brenda

    Reply
  2. John E Winterstorm

    Make it four wheel drive for winter conditions remember neither snow nor sleet or rain or hail – don’t expect to get your mail especially snow

    Reply
    • Carrie

      Apparently you’ve never worked for the USPS delivering mail. If you did you wouldn’t of said this. These vehicles have little heat and no air. It’s an oven in there in the summer and and ice box in the winter. Plus without 4 Wheel drive they get stuck all the time. They suck. They should just purchase rhd jeeps. They work the best for rual delivery.

      Reply
    • Donna

      Hey Jahon, I am a retired 30 year mail carrier, unless YOU have ever done that job, then YOU have NO clue how physically and mentally demanding it is!! So YOU need to keep your mouth SHUT!!

      Reply
  3. Monique

    Just please let them have A/C and working heat and I’m good!!!!

    Reply
    • JonDough

      Exactly. Don’t care about the rest of it. Heat and A/C then I can deal with it.

      Reply
  4. Gloria

    From a retired carrier of 25 yrs, make sure the vehicle is insulated properly w/plenty of vents so heat may come from the bottom half to warm your feet quickly. Plus, all wheel drive.

    Reply
  5. JAMES B MCGREGOR

    I retired just over 5 years ago, started in August 1979. When I started we had Jeeps from AM General 1 traction tire in rear not good in deep snow. Then they tried the Ford Pinto, I liked the Jeep, much better. Think next was Dodge Caravan. They had am/fm radio and air conditioning, but couldn’t use them for mounted delivery, left hand drive. Next GM LLV, lots of room but underpowered with iron duke 4 cylinder. Ford FFV, little smaller than LLV but much better with 4.0 6 cylinder. When I left some places were starting to get those big Dodge vans, I know you need training, they are a lot bigger than a normal van. Wished they had an American made vehicle in the mix. Picture, it is ugly, lol.

    Reply
  6. Bobbie

    Must have air conditioning- need short wheel base for turning in small culdesacs in subdivisions – and short nose on front for seeing small children who might run across in front of you while sitting at a mailbox! Electric and solar vehicle might work.

    Reply
  7. Kathir

    Everything I’ve seen their testing sit so low to the ground which would be great getting in and out of butt would be terrible trying to drive through snow hopefully they’ll have at least front-wheel-drive adequate heat and adequate ventilation and on the front windshield those LLVs don’t even have a defrost vent in front of the driver side. Also make sure they don’t leak like a sieve and their shelves in the back to keep male up off the ground my packages get soaking wet on a rainy day

    Reply
    • I. C. Weiners

      Spell check… Maybe if we could all read and write properly we wouldn’t have so many misdeliveries. If you can’t spell “Mail” you shouldn’t work in a job that requires reading.

      Reply
  8. Travis

    Forget vehicles completely and let’s go back to all walking routes with relay boxes. Save the 10 billion, which will be what USPS spends, and gimme a raise!!!!

    Reply
  9. Maria D Kemp

    Im a rural carrier in clearlake , ca i dont care what it looks like as long as it has air conditioning and drives like the loaner i always get when they take mine to work on .lol I will just be GREATFUL FOR A NEW TRUCK;)

    Reply
  10. DRS

    The jeeps were too small, the CRV’s are a total disaster, and the LLV is great for mail delivery as far as the set up goes. The LLV is a hot box in the summer, an ice box in the winter, and not good in the snow and ice. These vehicles are lower to the ground because they want us to be able to stand up in the back of them but they are TOO low to the ground – especially for bumpy urban and farm roads I travel on every day. PLEASE DO NOT CUT OUT THE EXTRA ROOM UP FRONT IN THESE LIKE YOU DID IN THE CRV’s – they have no extra room because you took it all out! I hope you are doing a better job of consulting the people who will actually DRIVE these things. THANK YOU!

    Reply
  11. Serbulent

    Karsan ‘s vehicle seems more functional. This company iş exporting buses which run on both petrol and electric. Their products are prefered in Italy and France,which shows its quality. Otherside it wouldn t be used in Europe. So My vote iş for Karsan Trucks.

    Reply

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