USPS Reveals Improved Next-Generation 2023 Hybrid Mail Trucks

The Postal Service is planning to replace their currently outdated mail trucks with up to 165 thousand new hybrid-fueled trucks by 2023.

Credit | The Verge

The United States Postal Service, or the USPS, announced that its entire fleet of mail trucks will be replaced with new trucks, after a years-long battle. The new trucks will be built by defense contractor Oshkosh (not the children’s brand), which will be outfitted with a hybrid fuel system, with either gasoline or electric drivetrains installed. The only issue, is that it won’t be available until 2023 at the earliest.

This deal, years in the making, ruined Oshkosh’s competitor Workhorse, who, with no major revenue, was hoping on this deal to start raking in revenue for the company. These two were two of the three remaining bidders. Following the announcement, Oshkosh stock rocketed, while Workhorse stock dropped by upwards of 50%, resulting in multiple trading halts.

Years in the making

The USPS has been looking for updates to the service’s mail trucks for years, finally deciding to outsource manufacturing and design to one of several bidding companies. While this move was great, it ended up in several more years of delay, as the companies fought against one another to win the multi-billion dollar contract.

Searching for new designs started back in 2015, with the entire switchover having been planned for 2018. USPS really needs these new trucks. The ones that are currently on the road delivering packages to millions, are incredibly outdated and even dangerous to the drivers.

The trucks don’t have air conditioning, have a 24 life expectancy, and are an incredibly high-risk fire hazard. Over 407 long-life vehicles (LLVs) have sustained damage, or have been destroyed, by fire since 2014, an incredibly large amount. The 24 year lifespan should have had these outdated, at the latest, in 2011. 2011. It’s 2021.

New trucks, new benefits

These new trucks are better in every way, even though they’re planned to start rolling out in two years. They come with more cargo space, a necessity for a postal service; better ergonomics for better driving, and air conditioning, a major portion of fighting off fire risk.

It also comes with tons of new technological additions, to help give these new trucks some future-proofing. Front and rear collision systems, powered by 360 degree cameras help protect the trucks from many accidents, with a redesigned hood for better viewing. The trucks also have the opportunity to collect to satellites for more convenient tracking and location management.

While Oshkosh hasn’t yet finished the design for the truck, (which happens to be why it wasn’t decided years ago), the USPS awarded over $482 million to the defense contractor, in order to help finalize and produce new designs. Oshkosh promises to make between 50,000 to 165,000 new mail trucks within the next 10 years, a good sign for the USPS’ fleet.

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A move towards electric

USPS and Oshkosh haven’t yet told how many trucks will be specially designed to be electric, although luckily the drivetrains are able to be changed between electric and gasoline powered. The plan over time is to switch trucks to exclusively electric-only, something which is based off of hopeful predictions.

Although these aren’t electric-exclusive, the USPS has said that the gasoline powered engines will be “fuel efficient, low-emission” engines, although there were not any clarifying details on that.

All of this hinges off the move towards electric vehicles, something that President Biden has been pushing towards. As one of the first things addressed during his term, the President has said that he wants to replace the entire government fleet with electric drivetrains, 1/3 of which being USPS vehicles.

While many are upset that these aren’t exclusively electric, such as the nonprofit Securing America’s Future Energy, many are glad that at least some of these new trucks are to be electric. Even with gasoline powered engines, low-emissions and high-efficiency qualities will help make these better than the current trains, a stark improvement over models from the 80s.

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