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US postal service electrifyies its next-gen delivery fleet

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor lack of gas will stay these NGDVs from carbon-free completion of their appointed rounds

The United States Postal Service announced today that "at least" three quarters of its planned fleet of next generation delivery vehicles (NGDVs) would be electric, marking a sharp departure from fossil fuel-heavy fleet plans announced in 2021.

Beginning in 2026, the USPS said all the NGDVs it purchased would be electric, leaving remaining internal combustion members of its fleet to presumably age out.

Under the plan announced today, the USPS said it would purchase 60,000 purpose-built NGDVs between now and 2028, 45,000 of which will be battery electric vehicles (BEVs). The Postal Service said it also plans to buy 21,000 additional commercial off-the-shelf BEVs in the same time period, bringing its total BEV purchases to "at least," 66,000 vehicles. 

As an added perk for mail carriers suffering in the heat, the USPS said the vehicles would "feature air conditioning and advanced safety technology and are more suited to modern day operational requirements."

As part of its plans to retire the aging portions of its 220,000 vehicle fleet, the USPS said it plans to buy a total of 106,000 vehicles between now and 2028. With 66,000 planned BEV purchases, the remaining 40,000 vehicles - newly added to an agency with a tendency to hang on to vehicles for 30 years -  will be internal combustion. 

Still an improvement over previous plans

When US Postmaster General Louis DeJoy spoke to lawmakers about plans for the Post Office's fleet of NGDVs, he claimed to be committed to having just 10 percent of the newly-purchased vehicles be electric, drawing quick criticism from the Biden administration and environmental advocates. 

The Environmental Protection Agency sent a letter to the USPS in February 2022 urging it to reconsider plans to stick with fossil fuel for its new vehicles, but the Post Office responded by saying an electric delivery fleet wasn't economically viable.

That seems to have changed thanks in no small part to $3 billion in funding from the Inflation Reduction Act being allotted to the post office for overall network modernization, which it said has been a key part of making it possible to add more BEVs to its fleet.

"The $3 billion provided by Congress has significantly reduced the risk associated with accelerating the implementation of a nationwide infrastructure necessary to electrify our delivery fleet," DeJoy said. 

The Postmaster General said the reduction of inefficient transportation and improved distribution operations have resulted in fewer truck trips and less air cargo, further reducing the Post Office's carbon footprint. 

The USPS said it was also evaluating whether to reduce its vehicle procurement periods in order to be more responsive to its own "evolving operational strategy," along with technological improvements that could make BEVs more accessible. 

The USPS said customers can expect to see its next generation delivery vehicles, electric or otherwise, on routes near them in late 2023. ®

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