When you think of the latest and greatest technology, typically we don’t associate these advances with institutions like USPS. However, the United States Postal Service has now unveiled its new mail truck.
After a years-long competition, the winner will be built by a Wisconsin based defense contractor called Oshkosh.
The truck will be able to be fitted with electric and gasoline drivetrains. The first truck will be on the road in 2023. Oshkosh beat out electric vehicle startup Workhorse, which was one of the other three bidders. After the winner was announced, Workhorse’s stock price completely plummeted.
For years, USPS has been interested in updating its existing mail trucks. It began looking for new designs back in 2015. However, as time passed, the need for new trucks continued to grow more urgent.
The existing trucks are extremely out of date (they don’t even have air conditioning!) and pose a very dangerous fire risk.
The original release date for the new trucks was set for 2018, but the road to the new trucks was paved with setbacks. Deadlines were repeatedly pushed back and many initial prototypes ended up failing according to an Inspector General report.
Once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, things continued to grow even more sluggish.
The new and improved truck will have more cargo space, improved ergonomics, and of course, air conditioning — it’s about time.
The truck will be outfitted with 360-degree views which will help with a front and rear collision avoidance system. This will also include audio and visual warnings, and also automatic breaking.
Oshkosh is still working on the final design of the new mail truck, which is why it will take a few more years until it is actually out on the road. The defense contractor will receive a $482 million up front investment.
The company promises to have 50,000 to 165,000 trucks ready out on the road over the next 10 years. Oshkosh joined forces with Ford during the bidding war, but it is still not clear whether Ford will be involved with the final product.
President Joe Biden announced that he wants the whole fleet of government cars to be replaced with electric drivetrains. That will not be possible without replacing the USPS trucks, as they make up about a third of all of those vehicles.
CEO of Securing America’s Future Energy said in a statement: “It’s disappointing that today’s announcement does not immediately commit to electrifying one of our nation’s largest vehicle fleets. This contract is a golden opportunity to stimulate the domestic EV market and supply chain, and a commitment to electrifying the [postal fleet] would provide a clear incentive for further domestic EV industry development along the entire supply chain, from minerals to markets.”