By on October 9, 2017

mahindra_genio_2-2_crdi_crew_cab_2014_14298510989

The United States Postal Service put out a call for bids for a new delivery vehicle to replace its aging Grumman LLV a couple of years ago. We haven’t heard much about the process since then, other than the fact that the USPS secured funding and selected five finalists.

We recently uncovered a NHTSA filing submitted by Mahindra Automotive North America that may give us a better idea of what we can expect for the future mail truck.

Mahindra filed VIN documentation for 10 configurations of their version of the Next Generation Delivery Vehicle in May of this year. The document shows two-wheel drive, four-wheel drive, gasoline and mild hybrid versions as required by the USPS bid.

Based on the listing of a chassis of 3,200 millimeters contained in the document, it’s likely Mahindra is basing the frame on its Genio midsize truck, which has that exact same wheelbase. The Genio starts at the equivalent of $15,000 USD in many of the markets where it is available, so it could be an easy way for the Indian automaker to offer a competitive price.

However, Mahindra is not using its own engine. The company is following in the tradition of the LLV by using a Chevrolet truck engine that is a few years old. In this case, it selected the General Motors 2.5-liter direct-injected four-cylinder found in the Colorado pickup, along with a few GM sedans. This option was chosen likely because of the available eAssist mild-hybrid system used in cars like the 2018 Buick LaCrosse.

2013 Ecotec 2.5L I-4 VVT DI (LCV) for Cadillac ATS

The mild-hybrid option meets the specs of the USPS request but it does not offer significant fuel economy gains due to it being a bolt-on system with a belt-powered generator. An earlier generation of this system is found in my wife’s Saturn Vue Hybrid and, based on my observations, provides a 1 or 2 mpg improvement at best.

mahindra-ngdv

The other important detail in the document is that Mahindra is adding a front airbag for the driver, along with a Type 2 seat belt — which will be a significant safety improvement over the LLV. This document gives us a nice preview of what the next USPS vehicle may look like. We look forward to sharing the other four candidates as information becomes available.

[Images: General Motors, NHTSA, Genio/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)]

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45 Comments on “Your Next Mail Truck? NHTSA Document Previews Mahindra USPS Vehicle Prototype...”


  • avatar
    xtoyota

    How will they get around the “Chicken Tax” Mahindra has no truck factories in USA

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      It wouldn’t need a US “factory”, just a warehouse. Imported Sprinter van drivetrains get installed a team of assemblers (hence avoiding the chicken tax), but it’s just for “bids” at this point.

      They’ll probably rule out the lowest bidders anyway, except they’re needed to show the rest how low the USPS wants to go.

  • avatar
    Corollaman

    The first and foremost requirement should be “Made in the USA” What happened to make America great again?

    • 0 avatar
      Car Guy

      There is supposed to be an announcement waiting in the wings from Trump & co. about new automotive plants in the USA. Mahindra could likely be one of them. Otherwise this will never happen and be subject to chicken tax as others have stated.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      Many government contracts are awarded based on points. Working with US companies provides more points. Not working with a US company hurts your chances, but does not eliminate you.

      For this specific contract, I’ve no idea.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Keep in mind, guys, that Mahindra is a license holder of the original Jeep platform from Willys/Kaiser, meaning the Mahindra trucks are more authentically “Jeep” than the Chrysler Corp versions. Personally, I’d like to see these trucks come to the US because quite honestly we need more variety.

      • 0 avatar
        psumba

        Keep in mind that AM General (another bidder for the contract) IS the direct descendant of Willys/Kaiser. They supplied the “Jeep-like” vehicles that the USPS used for years before they went with the Grumman LLV. A number of years ago, the USPS had another design competition, but did not pull the trigger on their next generation vehicle at that time!

    • 0 avatar
      Guitar man

      The Mahindra Genio has a locally designed 2.2L M-Hawk turbo diesel with 88 kW of power. A low final drive ratio makes it drive better than it sounds.

      This proposal is for a US assembled vehicle with a US made GM engine.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    A couple of things: a huge amount of mail is carried in the back of an LLV. Yes, your mail is carried in an enclosed space. Not in the open bed of a pick-up truck. 2. It’s not American made. Yeah, it’s got an Chevy engine and airbags. It’s not made in America, this has zero chance of being bought.

  • avatar
    Jean-Pierre Sarti

    y’all are not doing all your research, Mahindra makes tractors in the USA so it’s not like they don’t have the resources to make this custom vehicle here. secondly, there are plenty of idle facilities in the USA for a company like Mahindra to buy and use to make these custom vehicles. thirdly, the pic is just a sample of the FRAME that MIGHT be used. of course the new vehicle is not going to be a truck.

    it’ll be interesting to see the other 4 choices. What are the odds our man Elon will miraculously have a Tesla mail carrier? I mean it’s one more government teat for him to suck on, haha.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Some good points, Mahindra has a manufacturing presence here, and I’m forced to recall the uproar when the first generation Cruze hatch was shown in an article proclaiming that the *next gen* car (which hadn’t been unveiled yet) would offer a hatch here. “It looks like the old Cruze!” no §hit, Sherlock. Nothing like seeing a picture and ignoring the writing to allow for a jump to a conclusion.

  • avatar
    spookiness

    They would no doubt build a US plant. If they weren’t willing to do so the bidding process would be a complete non-starter. Chicken Tax less a factor than “buy America” rules.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Ever think that a contract like this could open the door for Mahindra to start building and selling their other vehicles here? There was some strong interest in Mahindra trucks a few years back, until negotiations with their planned marketing/sales company started going sour.

      • 0 avatar
        psumba

        Negotiations with Mahindra’s US Distributor (Global Vehicles, USA) did not go sour. Mahindra welshed on a signed deal and left over 300 US car dealers in the lurch! If they enter the USA truck market, it won’t be under their name … but probably as Ssangyong (a Korean brand that they purchased a few years ago).

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    1 or 2 mpg improvement would be massive for a mail truck, both percentage wise and total $ saved. I don’t remember the exact number but years ago they had some info on the next gen delivery vehicle project that said the LLVs get something like 6-10 mpg due to their operation cycles. Some of that is certainly due to the under powered nature of them and many drivers to treat the gas pedal as an on and off switch as they move from box to box.

    If they are going to use a start stop system they probably shouldn’t rely on the current consumer grade system. Curbside trucks make several hundred stops per day.

    This is exactly the best application of a serial hybrid with a very small engine running constantly at its peak efficiency. As the vehicle comes to a stop and sits stationary the regen braking and generator top off the small battery for the next launch.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      That’s what I thought. With the yeoman duty of very short distance, stop for a pause, then start, a “mild hybrid” is going to give the absolute most benefit it can possibly give.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        https://www.greatbusinessschools.org/usps-long-life-vehicle/ that infographic shows that the average curbside makes 500 stops a day, spends an average of 11 secs between boxes to sit at said box for an average of 27 seconds while averaging a speed of 13.6 mph. If you are not going EV for most of those curbside routes it really really should be at least some type of hybrid. Park and walk trucks are a different story of course which is why it makes sense to have a mix of power trains available depending on the route it will be assigned to.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Bozi, all GSA (Government Services Administration), aka the Gubmint Carpool,must be American made. Yeah, there are some hybrid Hyundais/Kias with GSA plates. They were allowed under an environmentally friendly vehicle loophole. I do not know if USPS (Post Office) vehicles are GSA vehicles. Does any of the B&B know if USPS vehicles are GSA vehicles? Thanks in advance.

    • 0 avatar
      Carrera

      I am pretty sure USPS owns their own vehicles. From what I understood, if the license plate starts with a letter(s), DHS for Homeland Security, J for Justice, then it is owned by the department. If it starts with GS…that’s part of GSA fleet.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Considering that the USPS is a privatized organization, they don’t and haven’t been pulling from the government motorpool, at least, not for their delivery vehicles. Those have all been purpose-designed for the task, with the exception of some few platform testing models such as a version of the Dodge Caravan which helped create the new standards to which the next delivery vehicle will be built.

      Remember, these new ones are meant to be bigger that the current trucks, with the driver able to stand nearly upright in the back and a little more length so it doesn’t have to return to the post office to re-load as frequently. (Where I live, the trucks cycle back to the post office about 3-4 times on their routes. More often, obviously, during the holiday shopping season.)

    • 0 avatar
      psumba

      Hyundai/Kia manufacturers a large percentage of the vehicles that they sell here in plants in Georgia and Alabama!

  • avatar
    ChesterChi

    I can imagine Trump sitting in the Oval Office when he finds out that USPS has awarded the contract to Mahindra. He’ll probably say “Mahindra, huh ? Nice Indian company, good for them.” and move onto the next thing. Yup, that’s how this will probably play out.

  • avatar
    Ermel

    The German Post Office … erm, sorry, the Deutsche Post AG (not state-owned anymore), who BTW are building their own delivery EVs already, are planning or maybe already testing autonomous capabilities that the vans will use to follow their user at a walking pace through residential areas.

    That will spare the humans the constant hopping into and out of the vehicles, while keeping the latter at a handy minimum distance for taking mail out for delivery.

    Every time I see a Renault Kangoo or Volkswagen Transporter in such duty, I can’t help thinking that it would be a brilliant application of the technology: real usefulness and little potential for harm due to the very limited speeds and low traffic density. With potentially tens of thousands of vans in operation all day, every day, this looks like the ideal test bed for autonomous vehicles.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Contract negotiation ploy – they won’t get the win – nothing to see here.

  • avatar

    Just make the XJ Cherokee again in RHD.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      I’ve thought about becoming a rual delivery carrier just so that I could justify buying some quirky JDM vehicle to use. Nissan S-Cargo? I’d love it. But, a Mitsubishi Pajero Mini or Suzuki Jimny would be more durable.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Occasionally right hand drive Legacy wagons pop up for sale. Almost always having been used by rural mail carriers.

      • 0 avatar

        I like the Shogun Pinin and the Jimny. Richard Hammond reviewed both of those on the little known Men and Motors, just before Top Gear time.

        (Available on YouTube are hundreds of clips from that show.)

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          Interesting, I’ll have to check those out. Are you watching The Grand Tour? Is it any good?

          • 0 avatar

            I didn’t think it had debuted yet, but I might watch it if I’m *desperate* (I’ll finish rewatching Frasier first). With exception to a couple of shining moments of old Top Gear feeling moments, I was supremely disappointed with the Grand Tour Variety Hour season 1.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            I watched the first season Grand Tour and two episodes of the second season. It simply got too boring because there was so little originality in it. They focused so much on the low-brow humor that there was really very little real information, as compared to 2008-2012 seasons of TG.

      • 0 avatar
        CKNSLS Sierra SLT

        We recently had a change of postmen. What’s interesting is that both drove vans-with an “add on” kit to make the curbside of the vehicle practicle for mail use. Both postmen (1 had a Sienna-the other a Grand Caravan) had kits that consisted of a pulley installed where the steering wheel normally goes-with a huge belt that was fixed to a steering wheel retrofitted to a post on the passenger’s side-along with the gas and brake pedal. Bottom line-no special right hand vehicle needed-just this “retrofit kit”. I believe these guys are sub contractor that use vehicles they own to delivery the mail.

      • 0 avatar
        xtoyota

        In my area (central WI) all deliveries are made by employee owned cars….Just about all of them are junkers 80-90 year models. Those drivers are paid by the mile

  • avatar
    mmreeses

    ‘The six selected suppliers include AM General, Karsan, Mahindra, Oshkosh, Utilimaster, and VT Hackney and the contract awards are valued at $37.4 million.’

    I know that $37 mill. is a rounding error to the big 2.5.

    Other than being a small contract, does anyone know why GM/F just don’t offer stripper 2-seat Equinoxes and Escapes?

    Or why the USPS just doesn’t issue a RFP (request for proposal) for $37 mill. of cargo-version of crossovers or for something like a Prius V?

    What does the Gruman LVV do that a converted passenger crossover or Sprinter can’t? (other than being right-hand drive)

    • 0 avatar
      Truckducken

      It’s more what it doesn’t do: it doesn’t rust, and it doesn’t cost squat to repair. After hearing stories from Sprinter owners about parts cost, that’s a nonstarter. IDK if there’s a crossover that could stand up to this service. Given that most are essentially passenger cars on stilts, thus increasing stresses on everything, it seems unlikely. I do agree with other posters that this application seems custom-made for a hybrid vehicle, if the costs make sense.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      I think a right hand drive version of the Escape Hybrid would have made a good delivery vehicle especially for the curbside routes. For the park and walk routes it seems to me they would have been suitable with all but the driver’s seat removed. They proved up to the task of being used as NYC taxis.

      • 0 avatar
        brakeless

        Escapes are good, but the original Transit Connect is so obvious. It just needed a bit more ride height, easy fix. Yeah, it was made overseas and maybe that Focus drivetrain wasn’t LL enough for an LLV.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Durability and agility are a must. These things need to maneuver in some very tight circumstances and the load needs to be easily accessible for the driver from front or back. They also need to offer a maximum amount of cubic cargo capacity for the size of the vehicle, more like a downsized step-van rather than a stripped-out passenger wagon. The Caravan is an almost ideal example outside of the fact that the roofline is simply too low. And remember, the doors need to stay within the body dimensions when open, meaning sliding doors and probably a roll-up back door are simply more efficient. The Fords or any other crossover would require too much modification, increasing cost, to make them effective delivery vehicles. Better to start with a custom-designed vehicle based on a standardized platform.

    • 0 avatar
      psumba

      While I can’t speak for Ford, Mark Hogan (formerly with GM) told me that GM would never consider a vehicle that they could not make 100,000+ units per year. From what I heard about previous USPS RFP’s, their requirements were rather specific and demanding. While that wouldn’t work with GM, the bidders all consider this a significant piece of business and are willing to work within those requirements.

  • avatar
    CKNSLS Sierra SLT

    Truckducken-you are correct. My son is in charge of a small fleet of Sprinters where he works. The cost of operating those were getting prohibitively expensive. So they phase the diesel sprinters out for gas version of other makes.

  • avatar
    ryanwm80

    You would think that, given the postal services finances, they would understand the importance of supporting American workers.


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