Yeah, you read that headline correctly. Even though it seems to make absolutely no sense, it’s 2021 and the world is on fire, so let’s see what’s happening.
The United States Postal Service announced yesterday that it has signed, sealed, and delivered a 10-year-long, multi-billion dollar contract to Oshkosh Defense to electrify its vehicle fleet Over its life, the deal is expected to be worth around $6 billion, Autoblog reports.
For the uninitiated, Oshkosh Defense is a military vehicle maker that usually produces armored vehicles for warzones. Clearly, it’s the perfect fit for delivering parcels to houses along America’s suburban streets.
I suppose it’s not that insane. Oshkosh knows how to build unique vehicles for a dedicated purpose. It’s even reportedly planning on working with American automaker Ford on its plans for an all-electric Transit van.
That sounds great, but sadly the USPS’ focus isn’t entirely on electrifying its fleet. The contract with Oshkosh will see the delivery of between 50,000 and 165,000 vehicles over its 10-year period, which will be a mix of combustion engine and battery electric vehicles.
Given that the average USPS vehicle is nearly 30 years old, literally anything would be better than what the delivery service is using now. Even a goddam armored personnel carrier.
The possible design for the new USPS delivery vehicles are already dividing opinion, with Politico’s Sam Mintz running a quick Twitter poll — the majority saying the van is an “ugly duckling”.
Highly polarized responses to this so far, let's get some real data. This design is:
— Sam Mintz (@samjmintz) February 23, 2021
The USPS does say that its new vehicles could be retrofitted with electric vehicle technologies in due course. It’s not exactly clear what it means by that, but presumably it’s suggesting it could switch out the combustion engine for a battery and motors in the future.
Alongside many mechanical upgrades the new USPS vehicles will include air con, heating, and improved vehicle safety features like airbags and surround-view cameras.
Expect to start seeing them on US roads in 2023. And don’t worry, you don’t have to run for cover when you see one of these on the horizon.
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