Have you ever wondered how many mail trucks are owned by the United States Postal Service, or how old they are? The short answer is “a lot, and very old.” Approximately 140,000 of the familiar old Grumman mail trucks, created in 1989, are currently on the road, and their average age is over 27 years old.
As part of the modernization efforts of the USPS, Wisconsin-based Oshkosh Defense was awarded a $482 million contract to design and plan new mail trucks over the next ten years, the first phase in what is anticipated to be a $6 billion project. According to a statement by the USPS, the new vehicles will have all the bells and whistles of a modern-day functional vehicle, including “air conditioning and heating, improved ergonomics, and some of the most advanced vehicle technology — including 360-degree cameras, advanced braking and traction control, air bags, a front- and rear-collision avoidance system that includes visual, audio warning, and automatic braking. The vehicles will also have increased cargo capacity to maximize efficiency and better accommodate higher package volumes stemming from the growth of eCommerce.”
Among other safety features, the new mail trucks will have back up cameras and blind spot sensors. A jutting front bumper and high, wrap around front glass, will eliminate blind spots. As before, the drivers will sit on the right-hand side of the new mail trucks.
The decision, however, is not without controversy. One of the finalists for the contract, Workhorse, an all-electric vehicle manufacturer based in Loveland, Ohio, is challenging the award, as only 10% of the anticipated new fleet by Oshkosh would be electric vehicles. Three Ohio federal lawmakers, including U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, have requested a full review of the contract and the process, noting that the award is inconsistent with President Biden’s Executive Order calling for converting the federal fleet to clean energy vehicles. There are suggestions that politics played a role in the award for the new vehicles.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has stated that making the Postal Service mail trucks 90% electric would cost an additional $3-4 billion. In response, a group of 17 Democratic members of the House of Representatives, led by Representative Jared Huffman, introduced legislation to provide $6 billion to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to buy tens of thousands of additional electric delivery vehicles. The legislation would require at least 75% of the new fleet be electric or zero-emission vehicles, but does not change the USPS guidelines for awarding contracts.
Not everyone is a fan of the proposed, duck-like design of the new mail trucks, which has been subject to a bit of humor on Twitter and among the late night comedy hosts. But despite the laughs, everyone seems to agree. The new mail trucks will be functional and safe.
5 Things you have to know about the new USPS Trucks by Purbita Saha. Popular Science, Feb. 26, 2021
Grumman LLV. Wikipedia.
Oshkosh Defense wins $482 million USPS contract to produce up to 165,000 Next Generation Delivery Vehicles over the Next Decade by James Devonshire. The Manufacturer, March 1, 2021
Post Office Can’t Afford to Replace Entire Aging Gas-Powered Fleet with EVs. Morning Edition, NPR, March 9, 2021
Postal Service Says it Needs Congress to Make Next Mail Trucks Electric by Jerry Hirsch. Trucks.com, March 10, 2021
Three U.S. Lawmakers Call on USPS to Freeze Oshkosh Vehicle Contract by David Shepardson. Reuters, March 9, 2021
U.S. lawmakers propose giving USPS $6 billion for electric delivery vehicles by David Shepardson. Reuters, March 8, 2021
U.S. Postal Service Awards Contract to Launch Multi-Billion-Dollar Modernization of Postal Delivery Vehicle Fleet. Newsroom USPS, February 23, 2021
When it Comes to Clean Energy, USPS Delivery Trucks Don’t Yet Answer the Mail by Brian Naylor. NPR, March 10, 2021
Workhorse Pursues Long-Shot Bid to Overturn Postal Truck Award by Ari Natter and Todd Shields. Bloomberg, March 4, 2021
Workhorse Says USPS Meeting a ‘First Step.’ Business Journal, March 4, 2021