USPS Selected Six Finalists For ZEV-Capable Mail Trucks Project

OCT 12 2016 BY MARK KANE 47



USPS selected six finalists for the Next Generation Delivery Vehicles (NGDV) project out of 15 qualified applicants in 2015.

The new special delivery vehicle is to replace the 1987 Grumman Long Life Vehicle (LLV) and offer zero-emission capability.

The companies that are still in the game for bold orders are:

  • AM General
  • Oshkosh
  • Utilimaster
  • VT Hackney (Workhorse Group will provide the chassis and powertrain)
  • Karsan (Turkish)
  • Mahindra (India)

Out of the race are pretty big names, as well as smaller players that really counted on the USPS for survival like Emerald:

  • AMP Holding, Inc.
  • Emerald Automotive
  • Fiat Chrysler Automobiles US LLC
  • Ford Motor Company
  • Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation
  • Morgan Olson, LLC
  • Nissan North America, Inc.
  • OEM Systems, LLC
  • ZAP Jonway
USPS - Next Generation Delivery Vehicles (NGDV)

USPS – Next Generation Delivery Vehicles (NGDV)

The top six will now build a total of 50 prototypes for $37.4 million and after evaluation USPS will choose the best vehicle.



“After a rigorous evaluation process, the Postal Service today awarded contracts to six prime suppliers who together will produce 50 prototype vehicles as part of the next phase of the NGDV acquisition process.

The six selected suppliers include AM General, Karsan, Mahindra, Oshkosh, Utilimaster, and VT Hackney and the contract awards are valued at $37.4 million. The suppliers also have the discretion to team or subcontract with additional suppliers, and it is anticipated some will do so to develop the finished prototypes.

Half of the prototypes will feature hybrid and new technologies, including alternative fuel capabilities. The prototypes will represent a variety of vehicle sizes and drive configurations, in addition to advanced powertrains and a range of hybrid technologies.

The suppliers will have approximately one year from contract award to develop and produce their prototypes. The Postal Service then plans to test the vehicles during a period of approximately six months in a range of different climates, topography, population centers and delivery environments. The tests will help demonstrate the ability of the proposed designs to meet our operational needs, including the need to deliver to mailboxes across the United States.

With the prototype selection, the Postal Service is also announcing a forthcoming RFP for commercial off-the-shelf, right-hand drive delivery vehicles. The Postal Service seeks to explore a wide variety of available options during this research phase, and will evaluate any commercial off-the-shelf vehicles proposed as a result of this RFP as we continue to assess the delivery fleet mix.

Today’s announcements outline a significant step in the learning and development phase that will lead to a multi-year acquisition process. The lessons learned from this process will help inform the future production program.

Our goal is to obtain vehicles that will help us provide reliable and efficient delivery service for customers and honor our commitment to reducing the environmental impact of our fleet, while meeting the needs of our employees to best do their jobs safely. The Postal Service currently operates a diverse fleet including left-hand drive, multiple sized and alternative fuel vehicles. In addition to the NGDV process and the commercial, off-the-shelf, right-hand-drive RFP, we are deploying commercially-available vehicles including cargo vans and mixed delivery vehicles on an ongoing basis to supplement delivery needs.”

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47 Comments on "USPS Selected Six Finalists For ZEV-Capable Mail Trucks Project"

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Something like this really makes sense as an EV, at least in specific regions and maybe all. Typically pretty low miles a day, a lot of stop/start and slow speed. Hope it works out well for them.

I agree, this makes a TON of sense to be an EV.

Admittedly, I’m surprised that there are not more American companies that were selected. I had also heard that GM wasn’t even interested in bidding, though that could have just been rumor.

You would think that GM could build a 100 mile and stripped-down version of the Bolt EV to more than meet the needs of the USPS and achieve the right cost bogey. Maybe there are some requirements that make it difficult/risky for some companies to want to take on.

There is just no volume and sufficient margin in such cars. Big car companies aren’t really interested in building a specialized vehicle, they can’t sell to the public.

If they have already had an electric van, that would have matched the requirements, they might have entered, but big OEMs won’t design a new car, just for a few extra bucks.

Yep.. EV would be great for most mail trucks.. They usually don’t drive very far, and the daily drive is always the same predictable route. Plus they spend most of their time stopping and starting.

Indeed. I’ll add that they are parked at a centralized location where they can be charged. Solar PV can be put on the post offices to help cover the electricity costs. This will greatly reduce maintenance costs, reduce fuel costs, and increase reliability.

Just remember, though, Governments installing Solar PV means 100% costs to them. They cannot take 30% ITC against the project price. They’re better off letting a private firm do a PPA with them than buying a Solar PV outright.

Wouldn’t the government be out the same amount of money, since it would be the one giving a 30% ITC to the private installer and be out that tax revenue?

and/or on the large top of the trucks.

1) Most of them better be pure electric.
2) Should be domestically sourced.

The way the government works – by the time the “multi-year acquisition process” works out, they will be ready to buy a 2016 model in 2020. I worked on a DMSA project in 1991 where I saw a four year contract to buy the same 80286 computers for four years. Four years during the advent of the Moore’s Law period.

By the time the government figures it out, multiple more companies will be ready to be sourced – but will already be “out of the running” due to their neanderthal buying ways and procurement paperwork.

Ford & Chrysler lost out already? How? And GM didn’t even try? Why not?


The USPS wants vehicles with a service life of 25-30 years. That’s not a good fit for auto makers building vehicles for the consumer market.

Not saying that those companies couldn’t do it. Just look what they did in WW II, building tanks and other military vehicles.

But I can understand why they wouldn’t want to make a serious effort to bid on building utility vehicles for the Post Awful. 😉

The American gov supporting American businesses??
Come on thats what the Chineses do we need to differenate!!

On a serious note GM probably does not think there is a large enough production run to be worth their time since they are probably looking for the lowest cost bidder and the labor is far cheaper in India and other places…
If GM were to win the bid they would take all kinds of flack if they were not produced in the US…
If they were produced in the US now you are talking GM production workers making 10x or even 20x what they probably do in India…
So I dont blame GM for side steping this one…

The production run of a few tens of thousands is meaningless for a company like GM that makes 10m cars a year. They better put their effort in a mass market product.

Oh – give me a break. USPS looking at Turkish and Indian providers of our mail trucks?

It’s like American Airlines running half a fleet of planes made in France.

When does it end…

AM General is the odds on favorite, they made the Hummer H1 for the military.

AM General lost the contract for the Humvee replacement. It’s likely they will be thrown a bone here.

Yeah, definitely disappointed in how this is playing out so far. And the whole thing smells of requirements creep.

Buy 1,000 100-mile versions of the Bolt EV for less than the 37.5 million awarded only for these prototypes. Sigh.

The final vehicle is far bigger than the Bolt, will cost around half the money of the Bolt and is expected to last for 25-30 years.

I expect the Bolt not to be the best match for the USPS.

Yes, they’re basically buying cargo vans this time. It makes sense because of the shift to delivering parcels and junk.

The UK Royal Mail (or whatever it’s called today) uses Ford Transits and they’re ironically out of the running. (Lots of Ford Transits are made in Turkey).

Don’t get your hopes up. The federal agencies are notorious for talking big and doing small on environmental issues. I’d be surprised if most of the vans are even hybrids, much less zero emission or BEV.

Although a significant portion of the population lives in cities, there are still a great number living in small towns and rural areas where the routes are quite long.
I think a 30-40 mile PHEV design makes more sense for a one solution design.

The mileage is so predictable though. I’m a HUGE PHEV proponent, but in this case, if they know max range is 50 miles in rural areas, sell a 100 mile BEV and be done with it. Cheaper in purchasing cost and maintenance cost in this predictable scenario than adding all the other gas components.

It’s so obvious… which is why they will put a gasoline motor in it.

I’m sure that their is a labor union or a government supplier for oil / gasoline that has the right connections to continue with the status quo.

They could easily have one vehicle with a 100 mile range that can cover all the degradtion on the coldest day with the heater blasting (maybe an alcohol, nat gas, or hydrogen heater for extreme temperature areas?).

For some extreme corner case, add a second battery pack for 200 mile range.


A follow up to that with a couple of interesting quotes…

“The group will soon decide whether to start selling the Streetscooter model and join those set to compete directly with established carmakers.”

Electric vehicles – which are far simpler in design than combustion engined cars – require only a tenth of the staff during assembly, dramatically lowering production costs.”

“For commercial reasons he wouldn’t put a price on the Streetscooter, but said: “It did not cost billions to develop and produce. You will not believe how cheap it is to make.”

Yeah, I loved that quote about “you will not believe how cheap it is to make”.

Just more evidence that traditional manufacturers are being obstructionist when it comes to transitioning to electrified transport.

They’ll string out the vaporware/weirdmobile/concept/compliance/complacence car strategy as long as they possibly can.



don’t they make kids clothes????

By gosh they make IED resistant troop trucks also…..

This is inane. US Postal services are already using Tesla Model S for at least one carrier (private vehicle):
in rural locations.
RAV 4 EV would do great in several situations if they dusted off the blueprints. The Germans have already gone down this route:

That the US Postal Service is still considering an ICE at all, when bus routes are electrifying every month in this country shows you who is on the fossil fuel take here. Long life vehicles? Even the most ICE-fanatic types I know are at least admitting they are in denial.
If Amazon builds their flying drone armada, I’m done with the US Postal service for holiday cards and the remnants of my physical correspondence.

If they need a long lived vehicle, I’d think the VOLTEC would be a natural fit. Plenty of power for a 2000 pound payload, and an 18.4 kwh (or whatever size they decided to use) could be shoehorned in without too much trouble like the Caddy CT6 was supposed to be. 300,000 miles with no degredation is certainly long-lived, and most postal service usage could charge up on 110 overnight at their regular post offices. Assuming around 10 vehicles would mean a 40 amp load over the midnight hours, so even if it needed 15 hours of charge per day it would be ok, and not tax the existing old post offices which likely have 48 kw electric services (200 amps). For those few routes where the battery isn’t enough, the engine would kick in to help out, but most vehicles would make only 1/10th the visits to the gas pump that the current ones do. I really can’t see the Post Office putting in a million dollar hydrogen recharging facility at the small old post offices where they are obviously running much more ‘efficiently’ than if they’d have their druthers. My Post Office is like this, and the only… Read more »

I don’t understand the USPS, Bill. VOLTEC would work, but heck, these delivery routes are 50 miles at best a day, right? Many are likely 25-30 miles. Why not just make a 100-mile version of the Bolt EV and be done with it?

It’s mind boggling to me that they wouldn’t do that versus awarding all these dollars in experimental prototypes.

They awarded $37.4 million, just for PROTOTYPES. With the existing Bolt EV, that would buy 1,000 vehicles for them. Strip down the tech, reduce battery size, remove the rear seats, and even with ruggedizing the shell, you’d think they could buy at least 1,000 vehicles, if not more.

And that’s just with the prototype dollars they’ve awarded! Sigh.

If you order a thousand, or ten thousand, of them, the car would cost CONSIDERABly less than sticker price …!

A prototype can easily cost a thousand times more than a series produced car.

I would bet the final vehicle costs far less than half the price of the Bolt!

For example traditional carmakers (BMW, mercedes, …) prototypes that are displayed at autoshows typically cost 5-15 million euro to build.

A average mercedes c-class is around 40.000 $ so at least a factor of 125 here at play.

The Bolt is tiny compared to these vehicles.

It will be interesting to see what they come up with. The amount of batteries you’d have to pack in for an all-electric solution for a package van like this that could cover rural routes would make up-front cost very expensive. But a plug-in hybrid with 50 mile range could cover every route while making the vast bulk of mileage covered be electric.

Where are FedEx and UPS?

put them on bicycles. They can pedal and go as fast as they want. Maybe an Organic Transit ELF is they need to carry more than a few small items.

The Norwegian Postal Service, the New Zealand Postal service and others are using smaller vehicles like the Paxster for city deliveries, combined with standard serial produced EV vans from Renault or others for other routes.
They say the Paxster and similar vehicles are much more efficient and far cheaper to operate than full size vehicles.

Shame they can’t get Tesla to supply an M30based rolling chassis and then get a coach builder to plonk something suitable (even much the same as they have now if that works) on it. Job done.

They couldn’t use a stripped down model x?

A Model Y chassis, with half the battery cells.

AMP Holding is is listed as out of the running. Actually, AMP is now Workhorse Group. They went through a name change when AMP acquired Workhorse and decided to hold on to the established brand name. They joined forces with VT Hackney and are still in the running.

Lets hope history doesn’t repeat itself. I’m driving one of the 50 fleet validation vehicles from the first time USPS got serious about AFVs during the Carter Administration.
I’m currently restoring a Ford Ranger EV, which shared a drivetrain with the last Postal EV, also cancelled.

Just do it like Deutsche Post. They build their own EV, cheaper and faster as any german carmaker could. ( . To get it done faster they both could do an joint venture.