Oshkosh’s NGDV Mail Van Looks Incredibly Dorky for a Reason

The United States Postal Service’s Grumman Long Life Vehicle (LLV) may have been built by the same company that built the sleek F-14 Tomcat but it’s hardly a looker. Somehow, its replacement, the new Oshkosh Next Generation Delivery Vehicle (NGDV) is even more homely looking. Especially when compared to Amazon’s Rivian Prime or FedEx’s BrightDrop EV600 vans. Government program gone wrong? Actually, there’s a very good reason as to why the NGDV looks the way it does.

Simply put, it’s because the postal service asked for it to look this way. The proposal by the USPS for its NGDV program included more than six separate documents with over 76 pages of requirements and testing procedures for automakers interested in building the NGDV. Aside from items such as right-hand-drive operating controls, available gas and electric powertrainsx, and two-wheel- or all/four-wheel-drive options, the USPS required the NGDV to accelerate from 0-60 mph within 35 seconds, cost no more than $35,000, have a driving range of at least 70 miles, and meet all federal safety, emissions, and OSHA requirements. 

The USPS also had requirements dictating that operators, ranging from a 5th percentile female to a 95th percentile male, be able to stand up in the cargo area. Additionally, the USPS mandated the vehicles’ max height from the ground be no more than 112 inches, that it must store at least 155 cubic feet of mail, and that the driver’s seat must be between 41 and 45 inches off the ground. And that’s before cracking into other requirements, such as those related to outward visibility.

Some automakers, including Oshkosh, first attempted to meet these requirements with commercial off-the-shelf vans, using modified versions of vans such as the Ford Transit. But as vehicle designer Nir Kahn, who worked on some early USPS NGDV proposals tweeted, a ground-up design was the only way to meet the requirements of the USPS.

So while the Oshkosh NGDV may not be as handsome as the JLTV the company built for the military, there’s at least a method behind its mail truck’s stylistic madness.

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