Earlier this year, the EPA attempted to delay the Postal Service’s completion of a deal with Oshkosh defense to manufacture a bunch of spare parts for the current aging fleet of Grumman LLV postman vehicles. The EPA said the Postal Service failed to do a proper analysis of Oshkosh Defense’s new vehicle, which was chosen from a small group of submissions from various international manufacturers and offers only marginal improvements to the energy efficiency compared to the current fleet. They demanded more fuel-efficient or even all-electric vehicles that could deliver more performance than the winning Oshkosh NGDV.
Oshkosh Defense has already secured other government contracts for military vehicles. Its NGDV design is available in combustion or battery-electric versions, although the latter is more expensive. The combustion engine model only offers a 0.4mpg fuel efficiency gain over the outgoing mail truck, although it offers a much more modern, purpose-built design with the benefit of air conditioning (it gets about 8.6 mpg with AC).
The original deal called for the combustion model to make up about 90% of the USPS’s total new fleet and only 10% of the BEV, which the EPA had an issue with. Because the USPS has more autonomy than other government organizations by design, Postmaster Louis DeJoy chose to reject the EPA proposals and proceed with the Oshkosh Agreement as planned. Today, the first official order for this agreement was submitted, with deliveries expected in 2023.
What is interesting in this first command is the distribution of allocations. It looks like the USPS is aiming to appease critics with its first batch, as 10,019 of the first 50,000 NGDVs will be BEVs, which is about 20% of the first order, as announced by Oshkosh Defense. The total order is valued at $2.98 billion.
Oshkosh says the order can be adjusted in the future if the USPS allocates more budget, and the allocated mix can be changed to produce more BEV even after the order has been placed. (It’s called an “indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity” contract.) That budget is expected to come from Congress, and DeJoy previously claimed that additional BEV purchases would require up to $4 billion in additional funding. .
“We are extremely proud to build the USPS NGDV. It is designed to be the modern, safe and reliable vehicle that carriers have been waiting for,” said John Bryant, executive vice president of Oshkosh Corporation and president of Oshkosh Defense. “Preparations for facilities in South Carolina are well advanced and hiring of team members has already begun.”
The Oshkosh NGDV will be built in Spartanburg, South Carolina, starting in 2023. In an earlier statement, Postmaster DeJoy made his position clear on the controversy surrounding the vehicle, saying postmen have “waited long enough to ensure safer, cleaner vehicles are executed on our Universal Service Obligation to deliver to 161 million addresses in all climates and topographies six days a week.” The NGDV we got might not be perfect, but ultimately it should be much better for whoever is currently delivering your mail.