Neither snow, rain, heat nor climate change will prevent these couriers from quickly completing their scheduled rounds.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Postal Service announced plans to purchase 106,000 new vehicles by 2028. 66,000 of them are powered by electricity and have zero greenhouse gas emissions. His $9.6 billion investment in mail trucks and chargers (including $3 billion from the Inflation Reduction Act) will soon give the U.S. Postal Service the nation’s largest electric vehicle.
Such large-scale bulk purchases will drive the entire EV market, spurring demand across the electric vehicle supply chain, from batteries to semiconductors. Economies of scale will make these vehicles less expensive for everyone, making it easier to decarbonize transportation, the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.
But it’s not EV’s environmental honesty that wins postmaster General Louis DeJoy. “The biggest thing was financial capability and operational adequacy,” he told reporters outside the US Postal Service’s headquarters in Washington, DC.
The Postal Service has been looking for new trucks for years. With more than 220,000 vehicles, the USPS operates approximately one-third of the world’s largest US government fleet.
The USPS also has the oldest federal fleet. Its iconic workhorse, the Grumman LLV, was discontinued in 1994 but continues to fill thousands of mail routes nationwide. The humble little truck gets only 10 miles per gallon and doesn’t even have air conditioning. The lack of AC is actually a serious concern for letter carriers. Extreme heat is a major problem on mail routes, with mail carriers dying during heatwaves. And in an age of rising average temperatures and rising fuel prices, 10 miles (10 km) per gallon sucks.
The Postal Service has also dealt with financial constraints. This agency is not tax-funded and must instead recoup its costs by selling services. In 2006, Congress required her USPS to prepay health insurance for retired employees. This was a law that front-loaded a huge amount of money and ate up the USPS’s operating budget. Earlier this year, Congress revoked that authority and reformed USPS finances.
The USPS also faced criticism for postal delays and cost-cutting measures under DeJoy, who was appointed by then-President Trump in 2020. Earlier this year, the USPS announced plans to buy more trucks, but he originally expected only 10% to be electric. Environmentalists and 16 states have sued authorities in an attempt to block the purchase of a slew of new trucks and vans powered by fossil fuels. By summer, the USPS had increased its share of new EVs by 40%. With additional funding from the IRA, the USPS has set its sights even higher this week.
The new postal service vehicles are a mix of different platforms from different manufacturers. About 21,000 will be electric versions of vans and trucks already available from manufacturers such as Ford. However, the largest share of new vehicles is what the USPS calls Next Generation Delivery Vehicles (NGDVs). Built by Oshkosh Defense (a military contractor that also makes MRAP), this duck-shaped his 4-ton his truck has his 5-head on the windshield, walk-in his cargo his area, and of course It has air conditioning. The USPS has purchased at least 60,000 of his NGDVs and expects at least 45,000 to be powered by electricity.
Recode’s Rebecca Heilweil explains:
You can move far more in a week than you can in a day using a regular passenger car. So replacing his one of these vehicles with an EV could have a huge impact on reducing carbon emissions. Since these vehicles often travel on fixed routes, it is also easier to set up a network of EV chargers to keep them powered. The overall idea is that by migrating a fleet of vehicles at once, the fleet can reduce overall costs and lay the foundation for large-scale electrified transportation.
But for the USPS, electrification is part of a larger plan to achieve its mission of delivering mail to 163 million addresses six days a week, DeJoy said. Receiving, moving and delivering millions of letters, bills, toys and documents is a very energy intensive process.
“Every dollar I spend burns carbon,” DeJoy said Tuesday. “So for every dollar I save, I actually save carbon.”
He said the USPS is optimizing workflows to keep depots full with trucks, minimizing the amount of mail carried by air, automating operations, and consolidating facilities. By doing so, even greater environmental benefits can be obtained.
Meanwhile, the White House celebrated the announcement. President Biden has set a goal that half of all new cars sold in the U.S. will be electric by 2030, and has cited electric mail trucks as an example of an IRA implementation. So for Biden’s climate change agenda, the USPS is starting to deliver.