GRUMMAN OLSON EV EXPERIENCE
In 1978 due to the energy crisis, the U. S. Postal Service expressed interest in using electric powered vehicles to deliver the mail. In response to this potential market, Grumman Olson embarked on a program to design and develop an all aluminum electric powered mini-van. The proven rugged light weight aluminum construction of the Grumman Olson truck body was a natural starting point for a small vehicle that had to carry 1000 pounds of batteries and still be able to carry the mail man and his mail. During the next three years, Grumman Olson Engineering and Production designed, built, and tested several prototypes to validate the durability and the functionality of the design.
The resulting vehicle was all aluminum unitized construction that weighted only 2650 pounds including batteries. Gross vehicle weight including driver and cargo was 3200 pounds. The vehicle was 100% road worthy with all normal automotive systems and equipment and fully certified by testing to comply with all FMVSS requirements for special purpose IC powered vehicles. The vehicle was designed to meet all performance requirements of the USPS including a top speed of 55mph, 0 to 30 acceleration in 14 sec., and the 350 start/stop cycles.
In 1981 the first ten production Kurbwatts were delivered to the USPS in Evansville, IN for use on regular mail delivery routes. Based on the success of these vehicles and input from the Postal Service, the design was further improved and in 1983 an additional 31 Kurbwatts were put in service in Cupertino, CA. All 41 remained in use by the U.S.P.S. until 1992, and accumulated nearly half a million miles of daily service. Many more Kurbwatts would probably have been built had it not been for the easing of the energy crisis and the lack of improvements in batteries.
A few Kurbwatts were also sold to other customers. Six of which were built for Long Island Lighting Co. Long Island, NY in early 1984 for research in the use of electric vehicles. These six vehicles were later donated to major universities around the country for continued research projects. In 1992 two of the LILCO Kurbwatts were acquired by the University of South Florida for use in a solar charging research program. One of the vehicles is still in use today and the other has been interned in the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa, FL. It serves as the central focus of a solar energy display. Many of the Postal Kurbwatts have now been acquired by private individuals and are still in use today, including one in Bermuda. Grumman Olson demonstrated that a practical electric vehicle could be built to withstand the riggers of daily use.