KurbWatt - History
History of the Kurbwatt Electric Postal Van
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 mailman and his mail. During the next three years, Grumman Olson Engineering and Production designed, built, and tested several prototypes to validate the durability and functionality of the design.
The resulting vehicle was all aluminum-unitized construction that weighed 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 USPS 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. At least one was sold the the Alameda Electric Co. Alameda, CA. 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 rigors of daily use.
In early 2011, one of the Alameda Electric Company Kurbwatts came to Toronto Ontario. A second Kurbwatt will be arriving in Toronto later in 2011.
Grumman designed the Kurbwatt to withstand the day to day abuse of working as a commercial vehicle. The body, motor and transmission etc. was designed not to fail. The motor is oversized and should deliver enough power for a Kurbwatt to reach 90 mph in the quarter mile if the battery voltage is increased from 84 to 144 volts. The fastest Kurbwatt EVER is Gone Postal owned by Rodrick Wilde, and reached 98 mph in the quarter mile.
At least one KurbWatt owner wants to reach 100 mph in the quarter mile.