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Friday, March 5, 2021

USPS unveils next-generation mail truck with electrical drivetrain choice

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

Oshkosh successful 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 seeking to substitute its present mail vehicles for years now, and it began taking solicitations for brand new designs again in 2015. The necessity for brand new vehicles is pressing. Those at present on the street will not be solely woefully outdated — they don’t even have air-con — however they’re a major fire risk.

The switchover was supposed to begin 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 street and pedestrians or cyclists, which is an enormous enchancment for the security of individuals outdoors the automobile.

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Oshkosh nonetheless has to finalize the design of the mail truck, which is a part of the rationale 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 vehicles over 10 years. Oshkosh had been working with Ford throughout the bidding course of, nevertheless it’s unclear whether or not Ford was nonetheless concerned within the last product.

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

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

“It’s disappointing that immediately’s announcement doesn’t instantly decide to electrifying one in every of our nation’s largest automobile fleets,” Robbie Diamond, the CEO of nonprofit Securing America’s Future Vitality, stated 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 supply a transparent incentive for additional home EV trade growth alongside the complete provide chain, from minerals to markets.”

Workhorse was the final remaining bidder pitching a totally electrical automobile, and it put a whole lot of effort into surviving as a enterprise simply to make it to the tip 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 manner that it might pay much less curiosity if it received the USPS contract.

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