Your Next Mail Truck? NHTSA Document Previews Mahindra USPS Vehicle Prototype
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.
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.
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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You would think that, given the postal services finances, they would understand the importance of supporting American workers.
At least the prototype vehicles are being built in the US