Next-generation US Postal Service truck starts zipping around town

Virginia residents are getting a sneak peek at the mail truck of the future. One of them, at least.

A prototype for the U.S. Postal Service’s next-generation delivery vehicle has been spotted making the rounds in the city of Leesburg.

A Trucks.com reader snapped a photo of the van, which is one of five proposals contending for the multi-billion dollar contract to replace the iconic Grumman LLVs that have been in service since 1987.

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Approximately 140,000 Grumman LLVs are in service with the USPS.  (AP)

Commercial truck builder Workhorse confirmed on Twitter that it is the vehicle the company jointly-developed with truck body specialist V.T. Hackney. Workhorse didn’t reveal any details about the truck, but has previously said that it would be a hybrid. The company sells several hybrid commercial trucks and recently unveiled a plug-in hybrid pickup that’s scheduled to go on sale next year.

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The Workhorse W-15 has a range of 80 miles per charge and a three-cylinder gasoline generator for longer trips.  (Workhorse)

Requirements for the mail truck call for a 1,500-pound payload rating, 155 cubic-feet of cargo space, right-hand-drive, a sliding curbside door or doors, a maximum length of 230 inches and a six-foot four-inch cabin height. Workhorse’s snub-nosed creation appears to check all of those boxes.

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Required features of the Next Generation Delivery Vehicle  (USPS)

The U.S.P.S. bidding process called for test vehicles to be delivered by September, but the Workhorse truck is the first one that’s been seen in the wild.

AM General, Oshkosh and Turkey’s Karsan are also vying for the contract, while Utilimaster pulled out of the competition earlier this year. Meanwhile, documents uncovered by TTAC.com reveal Mahindra has submitted a truck based on one of its pickups that uses the either four-cylinder engine from a Chevrolet Colorado or General Motor’s mild-hybrid eAssist powertrain. The Indian automaker has a technical center Michigan and would build the production version of its vehicle in the United States.

The winning bid will be announced early in 2018, with deliveries (of the trucks!) scheduled to begin at the end of the year.

Gary Gastelu is FoxNews.com's Automotive Editor.