Fantastic Plastic?

This Plastic Delivery Truck Is The Future Of UPS

There isn’t a better way to catch my attention than using a Star Trek analogy. Well, done UPS.

It’s kinda like how in Star Trek III, Scotty sees a lot of unexplored potential in the ol’ Enterprise, but the brass are telling him she’s scrap because the new Excelsior’s “transwarp” engine is the only future worth having. Then we learn the Enterprise is still the only hope for their mission, while the Excelsior can’t cut it. Granted, there was some sabotage in there somewhere… but the underlying message is the same!

UPS is constantly trying to counter increasing fuel prices. This is likely true with every company in transportation, but UPS recently announced and demo’d its mostly plastic delivery truck that’s 40% more fuel efficient than the current. By ditching the sheet metal for plastic, these trucks are said to be 1,000 lbs lighter. This allows for a smaller diesel engine, which lends greatly to the lower fuel consumption. But back to that Star Trek line.

It seems by way of that Star Trek story that UPS doesn’t see next-gen powertrains being reliable enough for widespread use just yet. Current technology can be further advanced while the bugs are being worked out of upcoming tech.

It’s not like UPS hasn’t already embraced EVs. The company blog points out that they already have 1,900 EVs delievery packages. But these are smaller vehicles whose limited range cannot match that of the classic diesel trucks. This truck is an intermediary step whose innovations seem easily carried forward to the EV age. Fast Company explains that this truck is part of the firm’s goal to increase efficiency 20% across its entire fleet by 2020 over the baseline established in 2000.

The plastic brown trucks are still in the prototype stage so your UPS man will still be driving the ol’ ironside for some time.

Congress Underpaid?


The Ticket

Are members of Congress paid enough?

By Chris Moody


(Charles Dharapak/AP)

     Everyone complains about their job now and then, and members of Congress are no exception.
     A few lawmakers have suggested in recent months that despite a $174,000 annual salary, generous health care and pensions, and perks for things like travel and mail, being one of the elite 435 ain’t always what it’s cracked up to be. And when you calculate the hours they put in, the pay isn’t stellar either, they say.
     The Florida Capital News reported last week on a speech Steve Southerland, a Republican representative, gave to a retirement community in Tallahassee in which he complained about some of the parts of his new job:
     “He said his $174,000 salary is not so much, considering the hours a member of the House puts in, and that he had to sever ties with his family business in Panama City. Southerland also said there are no instant pensions or free health insurance, as some of his constituents often ask him about in Congress.
“‘And by the way, did I mention? They’re shooting at us. There is law-enforcement security in this room right now, and why is that?” Southerland told about 125 people in an auditorium at the Westminster Oaks retirement community. “If you think this job pays too much, with those kinds of risks and cutting me off from my family business, I’ll just tell you: This job don’t mean that much to me. I had a good life in Panama City.’
“…He added that ‘if you took the hours that I work and divided it into my pay,’ the $174,000 salary would not seem so high.”
Southerland, a freshman, ran a family funeral home business in Panama City and earned about $90,000 before joining Congress in January.
     His sentiments were not unlike those expressed by Sean Duffy, a Republican representative from Wisconsin, when he said in March it was a “struggle” to pay his mortgage and student loans with his congressional salary. “At this point, I’m not living high on the hog,” Duffy, a father of six, said. (Compared to his colleagues, Duffy is one of the least wealthy members of Congress.)
     At the height of the debate over a possible government shutdown last spring, Linda Sánchez, a Democratic representative from California, said during an MSNBC interview that she was living “paycheck to paycheck” on her congressional salary. And she wasn’t the only one. Renee Ellmers, a Republican representative from North Carolina, was asked if she would forgo her pay in the case of a shutdown. Ellmers declined, saying, “I need my paycheck.”
     Are times really so tough that even members of Congress are struggling to get by? The numbers suggest otherwise. A recent analysis of congressional pay found that members of Congress earn about 3.4 times the salary of the average American worker. Using that standard, members of Congress are among the highest paid legislators in the developed world.
     This talk probably won’t help Congress’ approval rating. The federal government is the worst-rated industry in the country, viewed favorably by only 17 percent of Americans, according to a new Gallup survey.