Canoo Can Too Deliver Electric Trucks To The US Postal Service

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The US Postal Service is finally replacing its aging fleet of neighborhood delivery trucks, and after some pushing and prodding they have agreed to include more electric vehicles in the mix. They are leaning on Ford’s new E-Transit all-purpose van for an assist, and they are also giving the US startup Canoo a look-see. Wait, Canoo who?

The Right Fleets For Electric Vehicles

The Postal Service might have to take a number and get in line if they are serious about adding Canoo’s signature Lifestyle Delivery Vans to their fleet, because the room is getting crowded. Pickup trucks are hugely popular in the US, but Canoo’s customizable electric van is also winning hearts and minds.

CleanTechnica has been following along with Canoo as it expands its foothold in the electric van space, the latest news being an order of 9,300 LDVs for the van rental company Kingbee.  The deal includes an option to buy another 9,300 LDVs, too.

The rental fleet angle is particularly timely, considering that Hertz recently decided to sell off its fleet of electric cars, including its roster of Teslas. The decision that threw a soul-crushing dart at electric vehicle fans everywhere. Accidents, repairs, and customer disinterest were among the factors at work in the decision. However, those factors are not the same for other kinds of fleets.

One key difference is that Kingbee is focused on the working vehicle market, where presumably drivers receive more training than the casual motorist, helping to reduce the risk of accidents. Fleet owners also have an opportunity to install their own charging stations or work within their B-to-B network for access to charging stations. That can relieve drivers from the task of searching for public stations.

Working vehicles also provide fleet owners with opportunities to take advantage of time-of-day discounts and participate in virtual power plant systems, potentially bringing in some revenue on the side.

Government fleets are also ripe territory for light duty electric vehicles, so it’s no surprise to see Canoo working on an order of 1,000 LDVs for the Office of Management and Enterprise Services in Oklahoma, where its manufacturing facility is located.

USPS Is Canoo-Curious

Over in Europe, public subsidies are among the factors that are beginning to stimulate interest in hydrogen fuel cell electric delivery vans, but they don’t seem to be catching on here in the US.

The US Postal service, for example, agreed to give fuel cell forklifts a trial at one of its facilities in Maryland back in 2017, and last spring it ordered 50 Nikola fuel cell heavy-duty trucks for long-haul mail shipping. However, for neighborhood deliveries USPS is focusing squarely on battery electric vehicles.

Last week Canoo announced that USPS has committed to purchasing six electric vehicles based on its LDV 190, except they will sport right-hand drive to accommodate curbside action instead of the standard left-hand drive.

The vans are to be delivered sometime during this quarter, and if you are wondering how Canoo can make the switch from left to right to quickly, there is an answer.

“The multi-purpose platform with steer-by-wire technology and a unique low-profile suspension system allows for a readily configurable right-hand drive system while maintaining desired roll and ride stability,” explained Canoo CEO and Executive Chairman Tony Aquila in a press statement.

Those six LDVs could become many more, if the Postal Service is satisfied with their performance. They could always check in and see how Walmart likes their Canoos. In 2022, the company pre-ordered 4,500 LDVs with an option to purchase a total of 10,000.

About Those Pickup Trucks…

Back in 2021 Canoo teased the idea of an electric pickup truck that basically looks like a van with the back half cut off. The idea is to provide a larger cabin and cargo area than the typical pickup, while also accommodating the handiness of an open cargo area.

As good as its word, last November Canoo announced the new American Bulldog electric pickup truck, based on its “Screaming Eagle” electric vehicle that underwent testing by the US Army in 2022.

“A powerhouse of engineering, this vehicle sets a new mobility standard and reflects the grit and resolve of the American people. It combines striking design with world-class performance while emphasizing minimalism with maximum functionality for work, adventure, and service,” the company enthused

No word yet on when the new pickup will be ready for production, so stay tuned for more on that.

More Electric Vehicles For The USPS, Eventually

As for the USPS’s overall delivery truck replacement plan, as of this writing the plan still includes thousands of gasmobiles. The primary intention is to replace the existing fleet of more than 100,000 badly aging Grumman Long Life Vehicles with new models that reflect modern standards for safety and driver comfort. The Grumman LLVs were introduced back in the 1980’s and they have long outlived their long lives.

The road to good intentions is a tough row to hoe, though.  Despite the obvious need for a replacement fleet, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy sparked an uproar back in 2021, when he announced that the new fleet of more new delivery trucks would include a commitment of just 10% electric vehicles.

With a funding assist from Congress, DeJoy moved the goalpost to 66,000 electric vehicles, including off-the-shelf electric delivery vans like the E-Transit and Canoo’s LDV, of which hopefully there will be more.

The bulk of the replacement fleet contract went to Oshkosh Defense, for the design and manufacture of a new “Next Generation Delivery Van” specifically for USPS.

Apparently Oshkosh anticipated that more electric vehicles would be in the works from the get-go. The new NGDV has a rather funky looking silhouette, partly because Oshkosh engineered it to feature either an internal combustion engine or a battery pack, depending on who’s ordering what.

According to the company, the gasmobile version was additionally engineered for a relatively quick retrofit to electric drive if desired.

Oshkosh is not particularly known for its work in the electric vehicle field, which was also cause for criticizing the Postal Service’s electrification plan.

However, as noted by CleanTechnica and others, Oshkosh has been working with other industry stakeholders to develop an electric fire truck among other heavy duty electric vehicles.

The company has been laying plans to build a new manufacturing facility to satisfy the Postal Service order, though apparently its home state of Wisconsin is not in the running. Spartanburg, South Carolina drew the winning ticket as the manufacturing home of the new NGDV electric vehicles. As reported by the Upstate Business Journal last April, the company is expected to begin production any time now.

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Image: The USPS ordered six electric vehicles from the US EV startup Canoo (courtesy of Canoo).

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