USPS increases electric vehicle fleet goal to 40%

Photo (c) Stefania Pelfini La Waziya Photography - Getty Images

Officials say the change reflects the agency's modernization efforts

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) appears to have had a change of heart about electric vehicles. A year ago, the agency pushed back against President Biden’s federal EV goals, but it said on Wednesday that it now plans to make 40% of its new trucks electric, up from its original projection of 10%.

The Postal Service said it has determined that there is a “compelling need” and that it will make adjustments if it wants to continue to modernize and refine all that it does from routes to infrastructure.

The proposed expanded fleet mix will now include 41,000 electric vehicles, as well as purpose-built Next Generation Delivery Vehicles (NGDVs) and commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) vehicles.

Responding to pressure

The Postal Service’s change of heart might also have something to do with lawsuits and challenges from various groups, states, and lawmakers that have been directed at Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. For example, legislators have stated that they want the Postal Service’s fleet to be 75% electric, a number they felt achievable after the Office of Inspector General determined that more than 95% of delivery routes in the U.S. are acceptable for electrification. There have also been serious environmental concerns. 

"Postal delivery routes are stop-and-go by nature, which means that gas-powered delivery vehicles idle just outside people’s homes for much of the day. This daily pollution impacts nearly every single resident in the country," three environmental groups said in a separate lawsuit against DeJoy. 

"But the harmful effects of this pollution are felt most significantly by low-income communities of color, which are often forced to breathe compounding sources of pollution."

One last hurdle

The only hurdle left for the USPS to jump over before locking in the added electric vehicles to its purchase order is a public hearing in August. In its request for public comment, the agency said electrifying part of its fleet is just a start.

“Over the next ten to fifteen years, the Postal Service intends to pursue a multiple step acquisition process in our longer term efforts to fully replace our aging delivery fleet, and in that regard anticipates evaluating and procuring smaller quantities of vehicles over shorter time periods,” the USPS said. 

Agency officials said they are open to any ideas the public has about environmental concerns or potential alternatives they should consider in terms of pricing, operational capabilities, and market availability. Details on how to offer those suggestions are available here.

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