US Postal Service Caves On Electrical Autos, Virtually


US Postmaster Basic Louis DeJoy was roundly booed throughout the Intertubes and into the halls of Congress final yr, when he introduced that electrical automobiles would make up solely 10% of a protracted overdue makeover for the Postal Service’s getting older fleet of supply vehicles. The pushback labored. Earlier this week the company introduced a brand new plan that includes many extra EVs, although gasmobiles are a part of the bundle, too.

The Lengthy Street To Electrical Autos For The US Postal Service…

The Postal Service’s EV journey has been a rocky one. The supply automobiles within the present fleet had been designed for lengthy life, however about 25 years have handed since they first debuted. That’s an eternity when it comes to automotive expertise. Other than the noise and air pollution of outdated inner combustion engines, security options and driver well being had been shorted.

A fleet turnover to EVs would have been unlikely 10 years in the past, when prices had been excessive and solely Tesla dominated the market. By the point DeJoy took workplace in 2020, the time was ripe to begin bringing electrical automobiles into the image. US automakers had been starting to zero in on supply fleet electrification aside from Tesla, which was and nonetheless is chasing the reasonably priced EV it promised so way back.

However, when DeJoy awarded a brand new $6 billion, 10-year contract for 165,000 new “Subsequent Era Supply Autos” in February of 2021, solely about 10% of the fleet was reserved for electrical automobiles.

…Has Not Ended, But

The pushback was loud and lengthy, partly on account of shortcomings within the Postal Service’s environmental influence assertion. With an help from a brand new evaluation and extra funding from Congress, electrical automobiles started to issue into the fleet makeover plans with rising power earlier this yr. DeJoy bumped up his electrical car aspirations final spring, and bought to the 50% degree over the summer time.

The most recent announcement signifies that the stress continued to mount over the previous few months, although there’s nonetheless a considerable hole between the Postal Service’s precise dedication and 100% electrification.

On December 19, the Postal Service introduced that it’ll up the electrical car ante to 75%, for the primary tranche of 60,000 new Subsequent Era Supply Autos. That’s one other massive step in direction of 100%, however it nonetheless saddles the Postal service with 15,000 new gasmobiles to ply neighborhood streets for years into the long run.

Additional raining on the 100% EV parade, the Postal Service implied that 15,000 might be simply a place to begin for ICE automobiles. The plan is to produce other contractors ship 21,000 off-the-shelf automobiles to complement the 45,000 beneath the Oshkosh contract, however not all of them will essentially be electrical.

“As a part of this plan, a complete of 21,000 extra business off-the-shelf (COTS) automobiles are additionally anticipated to be battery electrical, relying on market availability and operational feasibility,” the company stated.

“The Postal Service additionally anticipates together with inner combustion automobiles essential to fulfill instant car substitute wants,” they emphasised.

The Postal Service additionally said that it’ll proceed to discover the “[f]easibility of attaining 100% electrification for the general Postal Service supply car fleet.”

Media protection of the announcement translated that assertion as a full-on dedication to 100% electrification, however it clearly was not. It was a dedication to additional research.

That most likely gained’t mollify some critics, however the 75-25 ratio does fulfill the benchmark for near-term federal fleet electrification established by the Biden Administration.

As well as, the company’s contractor, Oshkosh Protection, has said that it engineered the Subsequent Era Supply Autos to accommodate both gasoline or electrical drive. That leaves open the potential for changing a few of these gasmobiles to zero emission drive in future years.

The potential for 100% electrification might additionally enhance if gas cell EVs achieve a foothold within the US transportation panorama, however that is still to be seen.

What About The Lengthy Haul Vehicles?

A White Home press launch of December 20 cheered the Postal Service’s new EV plan, however it was cautious to refer solely to a dedication to accumulate 100% Subsequent Era Supply Autos starting in 2026, with out mentioning that the Postal Service fleet additionally contains a whole lot of tractor-trailer vehicles.

The White Home additionally specified supply vehicles elsewhere within the press launch, stating that “the general $9.6 billion, 100,000-vehicle modernization plan ends in 66,000 electrical supply automobiles and tens of hundreds of charging stations via 2028, and a goal of buying solely electrical supply automobiles after 2026.”

Regardless of shoving lengthy haul vehicles to the sidelines, the White Home discovered a lot to cheer about. “This $9.6 billion funding — which incorporates $3 billion in funding from the Inflation Discount Act — installs fashionable charging infrastructure at a whole lot of USPS amenities, electrifies 66,000 supply automobiles, and modernizes mail supply by creating a wiser community to extra effectively attain its 163 million supply places throughout the nation and additional strengthen the sustainability of this essential public service,” the White Home emphasised.

What About The Vehicles, Half II

The electrification of the Postal Service’s lengthy haul truck fleet might turn out to be a sore level sooner moderately than later. DeJoy’s cost-cutting plan contains lowering the company’s reliance on air cargo. If that entails a better reliance on lengthy haul vehicles, emissions are merely being moved from one transportation mode to a different.

DeJoy claims to have developed some new efficiencies in that regard, although he didn’t specify which vehicles are concerned. “A key focus of our modernization effort is to scale back inefficient transportation and enhance distribution operations, leading to far much less air cargo and much fewer truck journeys,” he said.

When you’ve got any ideas about that, drop us a notice within the remark thread. All else being equal, chopping down on air cargo could be an environmental win for the Postal Service. Decarbonization advocates have been specializing in the position of plane emissions within the Earth’s carbon overload. Zero emission plane are starting to edge into the market, however the one obtainable near-term answer is to chop down on air journey.

Extra EVs For The USA, Military Version

Regardless of a little bit of hedging by each the Postal Service and the White Home, the brand new EV announcement is a big dedication. It places stress on one other massive federal fleet supervisor, specifically, the Division of the Military.

The Military has been gradual on the uptake, however EVs are starting to seem on its radar, and it might make up for misplaced time via its relationship with the Postal Service’s, Oshkosh Protection, which because the title suggests is a longtime army contractor.

When Oshkosh Protection gained the Postal Service supply car contract, critics took notice of the corporate’s comparatively restricted expertise with electrical automobiles. Nonetheless, Oshkosh Protection has EV relationships inside its guardian firm, Oshkosh, and with different EV stakeholders along with its expertise with purpose-built EVs.

Final January, Oshkosh Protection teased the concept of electrifying a brand new tactical car to be shared by the Military and US Marine Corps, so keep tuned for extra on that.

Comply with me on Trainwreck Twitter @TinaMCasey (for now).

Discover me on LinkedIn: @TinaMCasey or Mastodon: @Casey or Submit:  @tinamcasey

Picture: New Subsequent Era Supply Automobile for US Postal Service (courtesy of Oshkosh Protection).


Full our 2022 CleanTechnica reader survey for an opportunity to win an electrical bike.




Admire CleanTechnica’s originality and cleantech information protection? Contemplate changing into a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.


Do not need to miss a cleantech story? Join every day information updates from CleanTechnica on e-mail. Or observe us on Google Information!


Have a tip for CleanTechnica, need to promote, or need to counsel a visitor for our CleanTech Speak podcast? Contact us right here.



Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.