New photos of the U.S. Postal Service mail truck prototype submitted by VT Hackney Inc. and Workhorse Group Inc. provide a clearer view of the only pure battery electric entry competing to be the agency’s new delivery vehicle.
USPS is currently testing five prototypes and is expected to select one or more winning bids in the first half of 2018. The $6 billion order could be to replace up to 180,000 of the service’s 215,000 vehicles, many of which are more than two decades old.
Spy photographers captured the Hackney/Workhorse truck leaving a test track in rural Ohio. The truck sports a boxy outline to meet the Postal Service’s requirement of at least 155 cubic feet of cargo space. It must also have a maximum payload capacity of 1,500 pounds.
The photos also provide an all-around view of the array of cameras positioned at the front, sides and rear of the truck, likely indicating a 360-degree surround view system on board. The truck was first spotted by Trucks.com while testing in Leesburg, Va., last year.
VT Hackney will build the body of the mail truck while Workhorse will provide the plug-in electric powertrain. It is expected to be similar to the Workhorse E-Gen vans that use Panasonic batteries and a BMW range-extender engine to provide electric drive.
The two-cylinder BMW gasoline engine acts as a range extender when the battery drops below a certain level. It provides an additional 60 miles of range for a total of 120 miles.
E-gen vans feature one motor on the front axle for two-wheel drive. The mail truck prototypes are required to offer both two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive options.
The Hackney/Workhorse protoype also has right-hand drive and sliding side doors to meet Postal Service requirements. The front design features an expressive face, a cluster of headlights and a chrome tow hook.
The trucks must also be equipped with a driver’s side airbag and have an operating life of 18 to 20 years.
Other contenders for the contract include Mahindra, AM General and Oshkosh Corp., as well as and Karsan and Morgan Olson, which also entered as a team.