AM General Tops Reader Poll for Next USPS Mail Truck

May 14, 2018 by Ryan ZumMallen, @Zoomy575M

The U.S. Postal Service isn’t saying which of five prototype vehicles will win a $6-billion contract to become its next mail truck. But Trucks.com readers favor the offering from AM General.

The USPS is seeking a replacement for about 180,000 trucks in its aging fleet. The program is called the Next Generation Delivery Vehicle, or NGDV

The design from the South Bend, Ind., manufacturer garnered the most support in a more than 35,000-vote reader poll by Trucks.com. The AM General truck collected nearly 13,000 votes, or 36 percent of the total. The vehicle is powered by an internal-combustion engine with fuel-efficient start-stop technology.

Its nearest competitors were Indian manufacturer Mahindra, whose truck earned 29 percent of the total vote, and a joint venture from Karsan and Morgan Olson at 21 percent.

One truck from Oshkosh and another from the team of VT Hackney and Workhorse Group each collected 7 percent of the votes.

In reviewing more than 100 comments left by readers, as well as interviewing dozens of current and former letter carriers, Trucks.com analyzed what fueled the preference for each of the prototypes.

AM General enjoys an established name in the commercial sector. There are also many ways its vehicle relates to the current Grumman LLV mail truck that has been in operation since the 1980s

The shape of the AM General truck is similar to the Grumman LLV, giving it a familiarity to both carriers and the general public. The AM General model is essentially an updated version of the nimble Grumman LLV. Its compact size works in tight urban corridors, and new USPS requirements — such as optional four-wheel drive and increased storage capacity — better suit the truck for suburban and rural routes.

The AM General truck also isn’t equipped with hybrid or electric powertrain technology, eliminating the need for a potentially costly infrastructure overhaul at USPS facilities. Its familiarity and uncomplicated advancements may tip the scales in its favor.

But the prototype has some detractors who said it appears small for modern mail delivery. That may explain why the Mahindra truck garnered enough votes — more than 10,000 — to come in second.

The postal service requires minimum dimensions that guarantee each prototype will offer similar storage space, but images captured by Trucks.com photographers make the Mahindra appear well suited to handle the increasing number of packages that letter carriers are required to haul today thanks to expanding e-commerce. The Mahindra vehicle is powered by a 2.5-liter engine from General Motors that comes with start-stop technology and a hybrid option.

Nearly 7,300 votes were cast for the Karsan/Morgan Olson entry, a boxy truck with plug-in hybrid capability, likely attractive for its green features. Numerous commenters and carriers expressed a desire for electric drive. Mail trucks make hundreds of stops each day and typically travel short routes of less than 80 miles. A vehicle running on electricity can drastically cut down on emissions and extend its range with regenerative braking.

The entry by Workhorse and VT Hackney offers environmental benefits too. The truck runs on an electric battery pack with a small generator to extend its range when juice runs low. Though the Workhorse/VT Hackney vehicle enjoyed ardent support among online commenters and carriers who spoke with Trucks.com, it attracted the second-lowest number of votes with about 2,500.

Commercial manufacturer Oshkosh entered a retooled Ford Transit van for the contest. The Oshkosh received overwhelmingly favorable reviews from commenters due to its attractive shape and spacious cargo area. Carriers also liked the promise of being able to stand up inside the rear section. However, its relatively large size had carriers wondering whether they could pull up to mailboxes at the curb. That may explain why it tallied the lowest number of votes at just over 2,300.

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15 Responses

  1. Pat

    The number of votes probably reflects the size of the companies and their number of employees more than anything else. It doesn’t make sense economically or environmentally for USPS to pick a gas powered vehicle. The automotive world is going electric for very good reasons. Workhorse now has 11 years experience developing electric drive trains for trucks. They recently completely redesigned the drivetrain and chassis of the ubiquitous and iconic brown UPS delivery truck. UPS already has over 350 electric trucks built by Workhorse in service, and is very excited by the new design. I wouldn’t count out Workhorse quite yet.

    Reply
    • Route 666

      This truck might work….if it were at least three feet longer. Does this one have good Air conditioning and heat, at least?

      Reply
      • Robert Allen

        ..post office has never had air conditioning in their vehicle..if fact they paid $500 per vehicle to REMOVE the air conditioning from the Ford Aerostars they were using..

    • Jim

      The USPS should, without doubt or question, ONLY CONSIDER AMERICAN OWNED MAKERS. Our tax dollars, especially $6B of them, should never go outside of this country. Period. The same goes for all these law enforcement agencies driving Dodge Chargers. Chrysler Corp. is owned by Fiat so all profits go to an Italian owned located company.

      Reply
      • Howie T

        Tax dollars will not pay for these trucks. Our pay does not come from taxes. We are operate as an independent business and are only regulated by the federal govt.

  2. kman

    Each one of these suppliers has delivered 5 different prototypes as per the request of USPS, 2 standard 2 large and 1 4wd. Trucks dot com and others have only spied one vehicle from each supplier, not all of the versions. Therefore imo this vote has been skewed because some folks are voting based on size when actually each company is making different size vehicles, jmho.

    Separately Route 666 the USPS did request an “optional” air conditioner to be directed at the driver only, not in the rest of the cab, and to operate in temps of 125 degrees to lower it to 85 degrees.
    “The vehicles must have air conditioning/cooling systems sufficient to cool the operator’s torso area when seated in the driving position with the driver’s window open, so that the air temperature at the operator’s torso area is maintained at or below 85 degrees Fahrenheit when the outside temperature is 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Cooling is only required in the operator cab.”

    Reply
  3. AP

    Which vehicle option has a side access door? It’s extremely dangerous for carriers to retrieve mail from the rear of the vehicle.

    Reply
  4. Vince

    Just rebuild the LLV, add better insolation and add AC, thats all we carriers need…

    Reply
    • HowieT

      The Postal Service released a statement some time back that we are focusing more on package delivery. The trucks need to be bigger and more robust than the LLV to accommodate more parcels and more weight. And, by the way, I agree with another commenter that the trucks.com poll is inaccurate. The “chosen” truck looks to be smaller than the LLV.

      Reply
  5. HowieT

    The Postal service clearly stated that they wanted larger trucks. There was a memo released a few years ago that said the Service wanted to focus more on parcel delivery given that more and more people are shopping online. This prototype that got the most votes is clearly one of the smallest of the five. We need a larger vehicle with more capacity for more and larger packages.

    Reply
  6. JEAN P.

    When will the competition/trial time be over?
    is there a date where USPS will announce the winner make/model?
    or at least an estimate?

    Reply
    • HowieT

      I read where a decision was to be announced the first quarter of this year. That is long gone.

      Reply
  7. NORMAN LEE

    Just give me a vehicle I can work comfortably out of. We need an upgraded LLV that gets better gas mileage, shelving and ability to maneuver into tight spots and narrow corners. The answer to those people who want larger vehicles for “modern” mail delivery is to adjust all routes to 8 hours for I’d be out there 12 hours/day or more for during peak season. If I had to carry even more parcels, I would be out there from 530 AM to 7 at night on a regular basis.

    Reply
  8. Frank Borris

    The USPS needs to consider how to get a better return on its $6B investment. As the trucks are currently configured as prototypes, they will never generate sufficient revenue via their parcels and traditional mail to cover the operating expenses of the depreciation on the truck, the driver’s salary, fuel, maintenance, etc. These trucks should be configured to generate an additional source of revenue for USPS by making use of digital media and capturing some of the $1B spent annually by the Federal Government on advertising. If allowed by current policy, the USPS could also be used to push Amber alerts, traffic emergencies, safety recalls, and other PSA.

    Reply

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