Editor's note: An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of Turkish finalist Karsan.
The U.S. Postal Service has named six companies as finalists in a competition to design its delivery vehicle of the future.
As part of the process, the Postal Service will divide $37.4 million among the six companies. Together, they will produce about 50 prototypes for the NGDV, or Next Generaion Delivery Vehicle. The finalists come from a group of 15 companies selected in a bidding process that began last year.
They six are:
In addition, the Postal Service also announced a separate request for proposals for “commercial off-the-shelf, right-hand drive delivery vehicles.” A Postal Service spokesperson said there has been no determination how many different vehicles the service might employ.
Regarding the six companies, “the suppliers will have approximately one year to develop and produce their prototypes,” the Postal Service said in a statement. “The Postal Service then plans to test the vehicles during a period of approximately six months in a range of different climates, topography, population centers and delivery environments. The tests will help demonstrate the ability of the proposed designs to meet our operational needs, including the need to deliver to mailboxes across the United States.
“The Postal Service currently operates a diverse fleet including left-hand drive, multiple sized and alternative fuel vehicles. In addition to the NGDV process and the commercial, off-the-shelf, right-hand-drive RFP, we are deploying commercially-available vehicles including cargo vans and mixed delivery vehicles on an ongoing basis to supplement delivery needs.”
The Postal Service is studying a variety of vehicles in an extended r&d process.
“Half of the prototypes will feature hybrid and new technologies, including alternative fuel capabilities. The prototypes will represent a variety of vehicle sizes and drive configurations, in addition to advanced powertrains and a range of hybrid technologies,” according to the statement.
One of the companies, AM General, maker of the Humvee military vehicle, issued its own statement, saying it had developed a “durable low cost vehicle” with “fuel-saving powertrain options and advanced safety systems.
The USPS is experiencing significant changes in delivery operations. Double digit growth in shipping and packaging services is driving new opportunities -- and new challenges -- for the Postal Service. With the dramatic growth in online shopping and e-commerce, the number of packages delivered by the USPS has grown dramatically from 3.7 billion pieces in 2013 to 4.5 billion in 2015.”
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