The United States Postal Service is finally modernizing its fleet of delivery trucks, but the proposed vehicle design is a head scratcher.
It’s no secret that the USPS is literally falling apart, and its current fleet of delivery vehicles is no exception. Its current trucks, which were purchased between 1987 and 1994, keep catching fire as they continue to deliver mail decades beyond what was supposed to be a 24-year life expectancy. Last July, Vice reported that more than 141,000 of these original trucks are still in service.
The USPS is at least updating its fleet with a multi-billion dollar modernization plan that involves revamping its delivery trucks with more modern ones over the next decade. On Tuesday, the USPS announced that it awarded a 10-year contract to Oshkosh Defense to “manufacture a new generation of U.S.-built postal delivery vehicles that will drive the most dramatic modernization of the USPS fleet in three decades.”
Coined the Next Generation Delivery Vehicle (NGDV), the new trucks will be equipped with more fuel-efficient engines and electric powertrains that can be retrofitted to keep up with modern electric parts. They’ll also include air conditioning and heating, which many vehicles in the USPS’s current fleet lack, 360-degree cameras, and better braking and traction control. Oshkosh Defense, which is based in Wisconsin, will assemble 50,000 to 165,000 of these NGDVs over the next 10 years, and if everything goes according to plan, these babies will be on the road by 2023.
“As the American institution that binds our country together, the U.S. Postal Service can have a bright and modern future if we make investments today that position us for excellence tomorrow,” Postmaster General and USPS Chief Executive Officer Louis DeJoy said in a press release. “Our fleet modernization also reflects the Postal Service’s commitment to a more environmentally sustainable mix of vehicles.”
And what does positioning ourselves for excellence look like, you may ask?
Apparently like this.
The mock-ups of the cartoonish vehicle note new features like back-up cameras, air bags, bumper sensors, more ergonomic cargo doors, and blind spot warnings. While certainly modern, the aesthetic choices made on this vehicle are baffling. It’s a duck truck. That’s all we can say.
Twitter users were divided on the new delivery truck design. Some found it absurd. Others adored the quirky, awkward trucks. Many drew comparisons between the new design and vehicles from beloved cartoons.
It’s an ugly duckling, but I like ugly ducklings. As a rule, government and work vehicles should have a funky, studio ghibli charm born of practicality. That’s my aesthetic.
— Jonathan Lake (@jlluh) February 23, 2021
Anyway, the future is now, and it’s clunky as hell.