USPS to purchase 40% electric vehicles, expanding previous commitments

Live Brief:

  • The US Postal Service is accelerating efforts to electrify its aging delivery fleet and on Wednesday committed to acquiring 40% electric vehicles as part of an ongoing overhaul.
  • The decision expands on a previous commitment to electrify 10% of its new delivery vehicles that was met with pushback from the Biden administration and a lawsuit by conservation groups.
  • EV and environmental advocates celebrated the announcement, but also said the postal service must move faster. “This plan means the majority of the postal fleet will still run on gasoline, for which there is no reasonable justification,” Zero Emission Transportation Association Executive Director Joe Britton said in a statement.

Live Insight:

The postal service is the federal government’s largest and oldest fleet, and its previous decision to continue using 90% gas-powered delivery vehicles had drawn wide scrutiny.

The US Environmental Protection Agency and the White House Council on Environmental Quality urged the independent agency to reconsider, and the Government Accountability Office raised questions about how the decision was made. In April, several environmental groups filed a challenging lawsuit.

“Public pressure works, and today’s announcement from the Postal Service is proof of that,” Katherine García, director of the Sierra Club’s Clean Transportation for All campaign, said in a statement.

Sierra Club, along with Earthjustice, CleanAirNow and the Center for Biological Diversity, were parties to the lawsuit.

“Still, making only half of its delivery fleet electric does not go far enough to address climate change or improve air quality in neighborhoods across the nation,” García said.

In March, the postal service placed an order with Oshkosh Defense for 50,000 of what it calls “next generation” delivery vehicles, and about 20% of those were electric. Wednesday’s commitment increases that number to 50%, and also calls for procuring 34,500 commercial off-the-shelf vehicles “including as many BEVs as are commercially available, and satisfy operational needs.”

In total, the agency expects to procure 84,500 delivery and other vehicles, with at least 40% being electric.

“The Postal Service reiterates its commitment to the fiscally responsible roll-out of electric-powered vehicles for America’s largest and oldest federal fleet,” the agency said in a statement. “New [Next Generation Delivery Vehicles ] are expected to start servicing postal routes in late 2023.”

“We look forward to seeing the concrete details of the Postal Service’s electrification plans,” Britton said. “Delivery services throughout the country and around the world are electrifying their fleets, and the Postal Service will lock in a competitive disadvantage if it does not electrify rapidly. We hope that the Postal Service will continue to reevaluate these plans.”

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