We have been hearing for quite some time that USPS is
looking to go electric. Politically motivated squabbles on spending and responsibility for environmental impact have stalled
the push for EVs, but recently it seems that the powers-that-be may finally be ready to compromise. Let's look at when that might happen and what's at stake if it doesn't.
President Biden’s goal is to convert all federal vehicles to electric by 2027. That would include the USPS, however, it is considered an independent branch of the government, and final decisions are made by Postmaster DeJoy.
Both men agreed that the 212,000 mail trucks, most of which were made before the Clinton presidency, need to be replaced by vehicles that can handle the long and sometimes harsh routes of the current trucks, in a reasonably-priced way, and preferably sustainably. That's where the shared vision ends.
Why there's division
The Postal Service has already put together a contract with Oshkosh Defense to build 165,000 “Next Generation Delivery Vehicles,” or NGDVs, for $11.3 million. The only problem? Oshkosh Defense has never built electric delivery vehicles and has stated that only 10% of the USPS fleet will be electric.
DeJoy and co. argue that something is better than nothing: if 10% of USPS delivery vehicles were electric, direct tailpipe CO2 emissions would be reduced by 257,000 metric tons every year, and wouldn't break the bank—something the Postal Service has been very concerned with, having lost
close to $13.5 billionin the last two years alone.
Biden, backed by many other government officials, both Democrat and Republican, are reluctant to see the USPS invest so much in a desperately-needed fleet only to keep 90% of it as internal combustion vehicles. Additionally, the Postal Service hasn't shared exactly how they arrived at the statistics they did in the environmental impact statement that supports the deal with Oshkosh Development.
In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency ran their own studies and concluded that the greenhouse gases produced by the ICE fleet numbers would result in over $900 million in damages to the climate. Furthermore,
says the EPA, they "are expected to achieve only 8.6 miles per gallon (mpg), barely improving over the decades-old long-life vehicles that achieve 8.2 mpg."
How likely are electric mail trucks?
With data and reasonable concerns on both sides, is it realistic to hope that these NGDVs will come to fruition by 2023, as originally hoped?
It will come down, it seems, to a compromise.
Electric vehicles will save the USPS
a significant amount of moneyover time by reducing gas and maintenance costs. However, the infrastructure of the US isn't prepared to support the charging needs for a fleet of 212,000 vehicles, especially in harsher climates and rural areas.
DeJoy also protested that the Postal Service simply does not have the funds to produce an all-electric fleet, so if President Biden and Congress are serious about the effects of tailpipe emissions, they may find a way to cough up $6 billion.
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