Five prototype delivery vans are undergoing full-scale testing by the U.S Postal Service as it gets ready to spend more the $6 billion on the next mail truck contract.
The Postal Service will use one or more of these models to replace as many as 180,000 vehicles in its aging fleet of 215,000 trucks. The agency is keeping mum on the details but Trucks.com hunted down the prototypes.
After spotting all five models during road tests, Trucks.com has heard from many readers – some mail carriers, some not – about what amenities they would like to see in the Postal Service’s next generation mail delivery truck. Which truck would you vote for? Cast your vote below.
Keep in mind that the Postal Service wants an operating life of 18 to 20 years, right-hand steering with two-wheel drive and a driver’s-side airbag. It must also have a four-wheel drive option and ideally a van-style body with an integral cargo and cab compartment constructed of aluminum alloy or composite materials and sliding side doors. The truck must have a minimum 1,500-pound payload capacity and optional air conditioning.
Here are the choices:
The only competitor offering a pure battery electric truck is the VT Hackney/Workhorse duo. VT Hackney, is a manufacturer of specialized truck bodies and is based in Washington, N.C. Electric work truck maker Workhorse is based in Loveland, Ohio.
The chassis and powertrain of the delivery truck is expected to be closely related to the Workhorse W-15 electric pickup truck. It will have a small BMW gasoline engine that will act as a generator to extend the range of the truck. The truck, seen delivering mail in Virginia, had an attention-grabbing profile with a low-slung aerodynamic hood, oversized windows for increased visibility and an upright stance for the cargo box.
The U.S. division of the Indian manufacturer Mahindra is known for building right-hand drive commercial vehicles. It’s vehicle designs can typically handle rugged conditions.
Mahindra’s truck, photographed awaiting testing in Flint, Mich., uses a 2.5-liter engine from General Motors and also will offer gasoline or mild-hybrid powertrain option, according to a National Highway Transportation Safety Administration filing. The truck is loaded with technology such as cameras near the roofline and possible forward-facing camera in the front grille. The transmission is controlled by the driver using electronic buttons on the dashboard, and there is a large infotainment screen instead of the traditional tachometer. The truck also is equipped with an electronic start/stop button for increased efficiency.
South Bend, Ind., manufacturer AM General submitted an internal-combustion engine truck with start-stop technology for improved fuel efficiency. The company, which builds the military Humvee, 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.
AM General’s mail truck prototype is equipped with digital instrument gauges and a large central display screen. It also has LED headlights and exterior cameras at the front and rear. LED strips inside the cargo space increase visibility. The company said its truck combines “highly reliable, low-maintenance, fuel-saving powertrain options and advanced safety systems into a durable, low operating-cost vehicle.”
Turkish truck maker Karsan and partner Morgan Olson submitted a plug-in hybrid mail truck. The team‘s prototype has ports on either side of the truck – one looks to be for electricity and the other above the left rear wheel is a conventional gasoline port. There’s a sliding cargo door on the right side of the truck. It’s also the oddest looking of the bunch. It has a low-slung boxy hood that projects forward under the windshield, and bulky sideview mirrors are suspend from both sides of the upper cab.
Oshkosh Corp. is headquartered in Oshkosh, Wis., and manufactures vehicles such as aircraft rescue and fire trucks, snow blowers and tactical vehicles. It also has several active contracts with the federal government.
The Oshkosh entry uses the body of a high-roofed Ford Transit van with its own modifications to the doors and cargo area. The added height would allow mail workers to stand in the cargo area while loading and unloading. The truck uses the Ford Transit headlamps and taillights as well as a similar grille shape and driver cockpit. The truck also has an internal-combustion engine. Cameras located on all side of the vehicle give the driver a better view of the truck’s surroundings and may possibly provide a 360-degree view similar to technology inside the Ford F-150 pickup truck.