U.S. Postal Service Next Generation Delivery Vehicle

Wade Vandervort

Attendees look at the U.S. Postal Service Next Generation Delivery Vehicle (NGDV) designed by Oshkosh Defense during the Advanced Clean Transportation Expo at the Las Vegas Convention Center Tuesday, May 21, 2024.

There are likely few vehicles as easily recognizable as a U.S. Postal Service truck.

From their trademark red, white and blue coloring and oblong shape to the postal workers running between them and mailboxes, USPS trucks are a familiar, arguably nostalgic, sight on roads nationwide.

Chad Smith, director of engineering at Wisconsin-based Oshkosh Corporation, called the USPS truck and its memorable design “iconic.” That’s one of the reasons he’s so excited to have helped develop the department’s fleet of Next Generation Delivery Vehicles, or NGDVs, Smith emphasized.

“Everybody knows that vehicle,” he said of the USPS truck, speaking with the Sun at Oshkosh’s booth on the Advanced Clean Transportation Expo floor in the Las Vegas Convention Center, where attendees got a sneak peek of the NGDV. “So to think that my kids are going to see this for the next 20, 30 years on the road — it’s pretty cool, right?”

With its low front hood and wide window, the abnormally shaped truck seemed to be causing some convention attendees to double-take when they laid eyes on it, before stopping and either doing a walk-through of the vehicle or sitting in its massive, black seat on the driver’s side — located on the right-hand side, which is unusual in the U.S.

“It’s the modern conveniences that we’re used to in our cars, that now we’re going to have available for the post office,” Smith said at the convention last month. “(360-degree) cameras, airbags, automatic braking, emergency braking. … So that’s just really exciting. And it’s kind of leaping them forward 30 years of technology.”

According to a news release, USPS announced an order for 50,000 NGDVs from the Oshkosh brand, Oshkosh Defense, in 2022.

Smith told the Sun his company has been working on the all-electric USPS truck for about a decade, and it finally starts delivery of the vehicles this month.

The purchase of the NGDVs from Oshkosh contributes to a goal by USPS to acquire at least 66,000 battery electric delivery vehicles between now and 2028, as part of the organization’s 106,000-vehicle acquisition plan for deliveries.

The trucks will ultimately begin to replace the existing fleet of over 220,000 vehicles, per a 2022 release.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said in the release that if the Postal Service can achieve its mission — delivering mail and packages to 163 million addresses, six days a week, while covering costs in doing so —“in a more environmentally responsible way,” it will.

“A key focus of our modernization effort is to reduce inefficient transportation and improve distribution operations, resulting in far less air cargo and far fewer truck trips,” he said in the 2022 release. “When combined with our substantial commitment to the electrification of our delivery vehicles, the Postal Service will be at the forefront of our nation’s green initiatives.”

Oshkosh designed its NGDV from the ground up, using USPS specifications, Smith said. That meant adding amenities like high visibility and the capability for a 6-foot-tall person to stand up straight in the back — where, at the expo, bins full of presumably fake mail could be seen demonstrating the truck’s spaciousness.

Unlike its predecessors at USPS, the truck also has air conditioning, Smith said. It’s available in front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, he added.

Per the Oshkosh Defense website, the company’s contract with USPS allows for the delivery of up to 165,000 vehicles over a period of 10 years. That includes both zero-emission, battery-electric vehicles, and fuel-efficient, low-emission internal combustion engine vehicles.

“It shows the maturity in the technology,” he said, when asked how USPS deploying electric vehicles could affect others’ decision to go electric. “If it’s good enough for the post office that delivers 300-ish days a year, six days a week … if it can do that, well, it’s good enough for other people, too.”

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