(DGIwire) — The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is soliciting bids from truck manufacturers to replace its 183,000 mail trucks—the largest fleet of delivery trucks on the planet. According to The Wall Street Journal, the boxy white vehicles first appeared 27 years ago and are now in line for a makeover. The USPS has issued a request for information as the first step in replacing its aging fleet, which is suffering from wear and tear and burdening an organization that ran a $5.51 billion deficit in 2014. According to the USPS, the new vehicles will need to be larger, more comfortable, and have better engines and safety equipment. The USPS, reports the Journal, is experiencing record growth in package delivery, and obtaining vehicles designed with this changing mail mix in mind will help improve the efficiency of operations.
As every major automobile manufacturer jostles to position itself to win this giant contract, Steve Burns, the CEO of Cincinnati-based AMP Electric Vehicles, stands apart from the pack. This is because AMP Electric is coming to the table with a zero-emissions, no-transmission, noise-free, smooth-driving, full-fleet option that could ultimately save the bankrupt USPS billions of dollars.
As Burns notes, the stop-and-go nature of the USPS trucks accounts for their extremely poor gas mileage (about nine miles per gallon), high maintenance costs and overly toxic tailpipe emissions. The key opportunity for electrification in this class of vehicles is that unlike passenger vehicles, these local delivery trucks typically travel a predictable number of miles per day and then come back to a central location.
AMP Electric builds all-electric trucks that require no charging station; each is equipped with a small battery pack. But more fascinating is the fact that the company’s ultra-efficient Workhorse E-GEN™ trucks are also equipped with an EPA-approved, onboard 25hp emergency generator that kicks in if the battery pack is running low. More futuristically—even though presently rigged and in tests—each truck can be retrofitted for a drone called HorseFly™, should legislation ultimately allow their use. The drone is fitted for each truck’s roof and can fly to nearby homes to drop off a package, and then return to the truck roof for a recharge before the next delivery. AMP is working with the FAA and has received favorable comments as it works toward FAA approval to permit its customers to incorporate drone delivery into their logistical architecture where applicable. AMP believes that by launching delivery drones from local delivery trucks, the drone flights will be short, effective, safe and extremely economical. Burns also notes that UPS has already purchased 18 Workhorse trucks for use in the Houston area.
“In striving to win a contract from USPS, we are up against several much larger players such as Ford and General Motors,” says Mr. Burns. “But the E-GEN trucks’ unique features are so remarkable, we believe they may give us a major leg up in the competition.”