The United States Postal Service (USPS) currently operates an aging fleet of boxy little trucks. An upgrade has been in the works for some time now.
Electric vehiclesseemed like an obvious choice. We are, after all, in an era of
phasing-out gas-powered cars. And, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) pushed hard for an all-EV fleet. So why is the USPS sticking with gas-powered trucks?
Why did the USPS ignore the EPA's request for EVs?
An all-EV fleet seems like the perfect fit for USPS trucks. These vehicles have set routes, so drivers know exactly how many miles they'll travel each day. And, USPS trucks are parked at the same location each night, which simplifies daily charge-ups.
Car and Driver, the EPA pointed this all out in its plea for an EV fleet. The EPA also took issue with the fact that the new gas-powered trucks aren't exactly fuel-efficient. The new models are estimated to get 8.6 mpg, a barely noticeable improvement over the current fleet's 8.2 mpg.
Despite all these facts, USPS is pushing ahead with its plans for a (mostly) gas-powered fleet. Considering that talks about a new fleet have been in the works since 2015, one can understand why the USPS is eager to move forward.
Gas-powered trucks will allow the USPS to remain 'self-sufficient'
The USPS is in a hurry because the existing fleet is outdated and inefficient. "They're always in the shop. They're like 30 years old," said Kyle Stock, in a Bloomberg Quicktake report. The USPS needs new vehicles now. The organization can't wait for
future EV infrastructure plansto be put in place.
Not surprisingly, money was also a factor. According to Car and Driver, the USPS issued a statement saying "the law requires the Postal Service to be self-sufficient."
The USPS's decision to go with gas-powered vehicles did more than just disappoint the EPA. The announcement that Wisconsin-based Oshkosh Defense would manufacture the new fleet also shook up the stock market.
According to the Bloomberg Quicktake report, shares for Workhorse—the EV startup that the USPS passed over—fell 47% when it was announced that the company lost the bid.
A small fraction of new USPS trucks will be EV
The USPS seems to be dipping its toes in the EV waters. Car and Driver reported that 5,000 EV delivery trucks will hit the road in 2023. But this is just a tiny fraction of its 150,000-strong fleet.
USPS hasn't said if Oshkosh Defense will also produce these EVs, or if they've tapped another manufacturer. It's also not clear where these EV trucks will operate.
Whether gas-powered or EV, the design of all mail trucks is getting a makeover. If the final product stays true to the prototype, USPS trucks will still be white with the organization's logo on the side. But driver visibility will be enhanced with a much larger windshield that wraps around the sides of the vehicle.
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