USPS unveils next-generation mail truck with electric drivetrain option

America Postal Service (USPS) has revealed its new mail truck after a years-long competitors. The brand new truck might be constructed by Wisconsin-based protection contractor Oshkosh and could be fitted with each gasoline and electrical drivetrains. However it gained’t hit the highway till 2023.

Oshkosh profitable the contract is a probably main blow to industrial electrical automobile startup Workhorse, which was one of many three remaining bidders. The corporate’s inventory worth plummeted following the announcement, and buying and selling was halted a number of occasions.

The USPS has been trying to exchange its present mail vans for years now, and it began taking solicitations for brand new designs again in 2015. The necessity for brand new vans is pressing. Those at the moment on the highway usually are not solely woefully outdated — they don’t even have air-con — however they’re a major fire risk.

The switchover was supposed to start out taking place in 2018, however this system skilled a number of setbacks. The USPS repeatedly prolonged deadlines within the early going on the request of the bidding producers, after which once they lastly delivered the primary prototypes, a lot of them have been defective, according to an Inspector-General report released last August. This system was hit with further delays once the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

The brand new truck has extra cargo house, higher ergonomics, and, sure, air-con. It’s additionally dotted with cameras that give a 360-degree view, serving to energy a front- and rear-collision avoidance system with visible and audio warnings in addition to automated braking. The massive entrance windshield and low hood also needs to give drivers a a lot better view of the highway and pedestrians or cyclists, which is an enormous enchancment for the protection of individuals exterior the automobile.

Oshkosh nonetheless has to finalize the design of the mail truck, which is a part of the explanation for the two-year wait. The protection contractor is getting a $482 million funding up entrance and is promising to make between 50,000 to 165,000 of the vans over 10 years. Oshkosh had been working with Ford through the bidding course of, nevertheless it’s unclear whether or not Ford was nonetheless concerned within the remaining product.

The USPS and Oshkosh don’t say precisely how lots of the vans might be gas-powered and what number of might be electrical, simply that the plan is to make each and that the autos might be designed in a approach in order that the powertrains could be switched to electrical over time. The USPS says the fuel engines might be “gas environment friendly low-emission” however didn’t specify what it means by these phrases.

President Biden mentioned in January that he wants to replace the entire government fleet to electric drivetrains, although that gained’t be doable with out the USPS, which accounts for a couple of third of these autos.

“It’s disappointing that at the moment’s announcement doesn’t instantly decide to electrifying one in all our nation’s largest automobile fleets,” Robbie Diamond, the CEO of nonprofit Securing America’s Future Vitality, mentioned in a press release. “This contract is a golden alternative to stimulate the home EV market and provide chain, and a dedication to electrifying the [postal fleet] would offer a transparent incentive for additional home EV business growth alongside all the provide chain, from minerals to markets.”

Workhorse was the final remaining bidder pitching a completely electrical automobile, and it put loads of effort into surviving as a enterprise simply to make it to the top of this course of. The corporate bought off a small drone division, ostensibly spun out a new startup in Lordstown Motors to make an electrical pickup truck with out Workhorse’s baggage, and it even paid $7 million to buy out its original partner in the bid, trucking producer VT Hackney. Workhorse even tailored the fine print of a recent loan in such a approach that it might pay much less curiosity if it gained the USPS contract.

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