Although Chrysler had once hoped to build electric vans for the United States Postal Service, AC Propulsion and AutoPort were contracted to develop a prototype EV postal van for small-scale testing.
Seeing as they experience frequent starts, stops, and long idling periods, postal vehicles will gain more from electrification than most consumer vehicles. Electrifying postal trucks will reduce costs from servicing (i.e. no oil changes), curtail harmful emissions, and practically eliminate fueling costs.
AC Propulsion (which had a hand in developing BMW’s Mini E) and AutoPort will develop a prototype postal EV that will be put into service in the Washington, D.C. area. The vehicles, all modified from standard Grumman LLV vans (which ride upon modified Chevrolet S-10 chassis), will be used and evaluated by postal workers over the span of one year.
The vehicles will be converted at AutoPort’s facilities in New Castle, Delaware, where the postal trucks will be stripped of their engines and transmissions and be fitted with an AC Propulsion electric drive system. If tested successfully, the government may begin the electrification of all of its 142,000 postal trucks.
This isn’t the first time the USPS has flirted with the notion of an electric delivery vehicle. In the mid 1970s, AM General built approximately 352 electric-powered “postal Jeeps” — the DJ5-e — for the agency.