Forward visibility will certainly not be an issue for the average US Postal Service worker in a few years time. The government agency has announced a 10-year contract has been awarded Oshkosh Defense to build a new generation of mail vans, and these early renderings show a vehicle best described as ‘unusual’.
It features a low bonnet and an exceptionally tall windscreen, as well as a right-hand drive configuration. The latter element isn’t as weird as you might think, though. Many of the vans on the existing USPS fleet have their steering wheels on the right, the idea being it gives drivers easy access to kerbside mailboxes while still in the vehicle.
The Wisconsin-based company, which builds military vehicles of all shapes and sizes, has been handed a $482 million initial investment to finalise the design. The finished vehicle will use either an internal combustion engine or a battery-electric powertrain, with the option to retrofit as EV technology advances.
Oshkosh will produce 50,000 to 165,000 of these cars over 10 years, USPS said, helping replace much of its 230,000-strong fleet. This is long overdue since many of the Grumman Long Life Vehicle (LLV) mail vans in operation today are over 30 years old, often lacking basic safety and comfort features like air-conditioning, airbags and even ABS.
Next Generation Delivery Vehicle (NGDV) will be a far cry from those ancient machines, with plans to fit 360-degree cameras, collision avoidance systems and traction control. And yes, they’ll have airbags and ABS. The NGDV will also be able to carry more stuff, catering for the huge increase in package deliveries prompted by the rise of online shopping.
The old LLVs will be kicking around for a while longer, though, since the first NGDVs aren’t appearing on mail routes until 2023.