You may have heard, but just in case: the USPS is getting new trucks! The Next Generation Delivery Vehicle (NGDV) from Oshkosh Defense is good, but it was only one option out of a competitive selection process The Oshkosh certainly deserves a closer look into its design, but we should also look at the trucks that didn’t make it. In other words, let’s look at the mail trucks that did not quite deliver.
My favorite is probably Chip Foose’s hot-rod LLV:
OK, sure, Chip Foose’s design was probably never really in the running. But all of the following trucks were seriously considered at one point.
AM General’s prototype is not half bad. Then again, the company knows a thing or two about designing a mail carrier truck. It’s responsible for the DJ-5, after all and has a long history supplying vehicles for federal defense contracts. This is the HUMVEE company. AM General’s prototype though, is a little lukewarm and doesn’t seem to address the need to redesign the vehicle. It doesn’t do enough to build a new platform that feels completely detached from the Grumman LLV and addresses the concerns of modern mail delivery.
The VT Hackney/Workhorse prototype is better in this regard. It seems as though it owes nothing to the LLV and does look better equipped for the task. Those headlights, though, are all kinds of wrong and the slope of its hood does not do enough to increase visibility. And the wheels! Oh, no. No. No. Too flashy.
The Karsan/Morgan collaboration produced an interesting concept. Of all the finalists, I think it shares the most with the Oshkosh NGDV. But simplicity is a virtue and the Karsan is over-styled in places. When you manage a fleet as large as the USPS, less is definitely more. I’m not even sure I can make sense of some its features. Why does it need a bumper on its roof? And why does its sliding door protrude outside of its body?
There is another truck from Indian manufacturer Mahindra, maybe best known here in the States for getting dragged into a fight with Jeep. We don’t have any rights to photos of Mahindra’s proposal, but you can see the thing at Trucks.com, which I think is definitely the friendliest prototype. Visibility seems like less of a concern for its design than that of the Oshkosh or Karsan. Visibility really should be noted when designing a vehicle this large with the task of navigating neighborhoods and getting as close as possible to a mailbox without breaking or hitting anything. Great wheels, though.
This last one is also from Oshkosh, but borrows from Ford. The joint design looked great to me until I looked at the final NGDV. But that’s probably because I love a Ford Transit. It makes sense in the short term to develop something that’s based on an existing chassis, but a custom design that has no inherent design constraints is better in the long term.
Oshkosh did well to start fresh. I think what they developed when they scrapped the Transit ended up working best.