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US Postal Service's new mail truck delivers mixed bag of responses

Ed Pilkington in New York
·2-min read

When the United States Postal Service unveiled its futuristic new mail truck, it must have been hoping for a positive response. After all, there hasn’t been a new USPS truck since 1994 and designers have been working on the upgrade for six long years.

But images of the new delivery vehicle, delicately posed in publicity shots against leafy backgrounds evoking the American suburban idyll, generated one emotion above all. Hilarity.

Related: Democrats urge Biden to fire USPS chief Trump ally who decimated mail service

Politico’s transportation reporter Sam Mintz took it upon himself to stage a Twitter straw poll asking whether the truck was sleek and cool, or an ugly duckling. The result was a clear 60% in favor of the latter.

The good news is that the new model, to be made by the defense contractor with the suitably ugly-duckling name Oshkosh, will have a raft of safety features when it hits the roads in 2023. Unlike the rickety old machines currently rattling across the US which have no AC, dangerous blindspots for drivers, and can spontaneously catch fire, the new fleet will have airbags, automatic braking and 360-degree cameras to prevent accidents.

They will be either petrol or electric-powered.

The bad news is that it is arguably the least attractive automobile since the Fiat Multipla, which looks not so much like an ugly duckling as a heavyweight boxer after an especially bloody bout in the ring.

Late-night TV hosts had a field day with the new USPS trucks. Jimmy Kimmel called the design “unremarkable and yet vaguely unsettling”. The cruellest take was from James Corden, who likened the truck to Justin Timberlake’s face – a pretty brutal slight on both parties.

To be fair, some people leapt to the ugly duckling’s defense. The actor Kelli Maroney said: “It’s adorable and I LOVE it.”

Perhaps a resolution of these polarised reactions will be possible by the time the vehicle comes on stream in two years’ time. One Twitter user showed the potential way that America could fall in love with its new national delivery icon: