WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sept. 23, 2016) — The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has named six companies as finalists in a competition to design its delivery vehicle of the future.
As part of the process, the Postal Service will divide $37.4 million among the six companies, which together will produce about 50 prototypes for the next- generation delivery vehicle (NGDV).
The finalists come from a group of 15 companies selected in a bidding process that began last year.
- AM General L.L.C. of South Bend, Ind.;
- Kansan Otomotive Sanayii ve Ticaret A.S. of Bursa, Turkey;
- Mahindra North American Technical Center Inc. of Troy, Mich.;
- Oshkosh HD L.L.C. of Oshkosh, Wis.;
- Utilimaster Corp. of Bristol, Ind.; and
- VT Hackney Inc. of Washington, N.C.
In addition, the USPS put out a separate request for proposals for “commercial off-the-shelf, right-hand drive delivery vehicles.” A Postal Service spokesperson said there has been no determination how many different vehicles the service might employ.
The USPS operates a fleet of more than 200,000 vehicles, approximately 163,000 of which are considered "long-life vehicles" (LLVs) purchased between 1987 and 2001. The service also uses vans, 2-ton vehicles, alternative fuel vehicles and tractor trailers.
The average age of the LLVs is 25 years old, the USPS said, meaning the bulk of the delivery fleet is near or beyond its designed useful life.
Regarding the six companies, “the suppliers will have approximately one year to develop and produce their prototypes,” the Postal Service said in a statement. “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.
“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.”
The USPS first broached the idea of replacing its fleet of delivery vehicles in early 2015, a move that could impact the Oliver Rubber-affiliated retreaders that supply the USPS under a long-term contract.
Any change in design to the venerable urban delivery vehicle in use likely would involve increasing the vehicle's tire size to a rim diameter in the 16- to 19-inch range from the current 14- to 15-inch size, industry observers said at that time.
The Postal Service is studying a variety of vehicles in an extended R&D process.
“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,” according to the statement.
One of the companies, AM General, maker of the Humvee military vehicle, issued its own statement, saying it had developed a “durable low cost vehicle” with “fuel-saving power-train options and advanced safety systems.
The USPS is experiencing significant changes in delivery operations. Double digit growth in shipping and packaging services is driving new opportunities — and new challenges — for the Postal Service.
With the dramatic growth in online shopping and e-commerce, the number of packages delivered by the USPS has grown dramatically from 3.7 billion pieces in 2013 to 4.5 billion in 2015.”
This story appeared originally on the website of Automotive News, a Detroit-based sister publication of Tire Business. Story includes input from Tire Business