Trucks.com: The U.S. Postal Service is about to decide what vehicle will become the nation’s next mail truck. Will it be the one that letter carriers want?
As the Postal Service puts the five prototype models it is considering through extensive testing this year, letter carriers shared with Trucks.com the demands they face every day and evaluated the vehicles under consideration.
The changing dynamic of the job requires a vehicle with a far more modern design than the aging Grumman Long Life Vehicle that has served as the standard delivery truck since 1987, current and retired carriers told Trucks.com.
Delivery today is all about packages from Amazon.com and other e-commerce retailers. First class mail — letters and bills — are a shrinking segment of the business, replaced by email and online payments. That requires changes to the design of the trucks, especially the interior space.
The current truck has poor insulation, leaking vents and a small cargo area that is not tall enough to stand inside, said Kathy Denman, a letter carrier from Connersville, Ind.
“The main thing for me is having heat, defrost and good visibility,” Denman said. “And you have to be able to walk around in there.”
The five entries hoping to win the competition include:
- A battery-electric truck with a range extender from a team composed of VT Hackney and Workhorse Group.
- A mild hybrid option from the U.S. division of Indian manufacturer Mahindra.
- A truck with engine start-stop technology from AM General.
- A plug-in hybrid from a team made up of Karsan Otomotive, a Turkish truck maker, and Morgan Olson, a manufacturer of walk-in vans
- A modified Ford Transit van from Oshkosh Corp.
(For more about the problems with the current fleet of USPS trucks, see this previous post.)