USPS buying 66,000 electric vehicles

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by Emily Atkins

Over the next five years, USPS will invest $9.6 billion to purchase 66,000 electric vehicles (EVs) and build charging infrastructure to reach President Biden’s Executive Order for 100 percent zero-emission light-duty vehicle acquisitions at the federal level by 2027 and 100 percent zero-emission vehicle acquisitions by 2035.

USPS plans for all-electric delivery vehicle acquisitions starting in 2025. Earlier this year, USPS planned for EVs to only make up 40 percent of its fleet, having previously planned for only 10 percent fleet electrification.

“This is an extraordinary step by USPS and the Biden Administration to advance the electrification of the federal fleet,” said Joe Britton, executive director of Zero Emission Transportation Association (ZETA).

“USPS has the largest fleet in the federal government and reaches across our nation with some of the most recognizable vehicles on the road. Postal routes are predictable and include ample charging time to meet the fleet’s power needs. Transitioning these older, inefficient vehicles to EVs will not only serve as a visual reminder of their value and reliability but will also provide public health, environmental, and economic benefits to our communities.”

The vehicles purchased as part of this anticipated plan will begin to replace the Postal Service’s aging delivery fleet of over 220,000 vehicles.

The Postal Service anticipates at least 60,000 Next Generation Delivery Vehicles (NGDV), of which at least 75% (45,000) will be battery electric. As part of this plan, a total of 21,000 additional commercial vehicles are also expected to be battery electric, depending on market availability and operational feasibility. Internal combustion vehicles will be purchased only to meet immediate vehicle replacement needs.

The Postal Service will continue to evaluate and procure vehicles over shorter time periods to be more responsive to its evolving operational strategy, technology improvements, and changing market conditions, including the expected increased availability of BEV options in the future.

In February 2022 USPS completed its obligations under the National Environmental Policy Act process and issued a Record of Decision to acquire up to 165,000 NGDV, with a commitment for at least 10% BEV. This decision was expressly designed to provide the Postal Service the flexibility to acquire significantly more BEV NGDV should financial and operational circumstances permit.

In March 2022 USPS announced a purchase order of 50,000 NGDV from Oshkosh Defense, including 20% BEVs.

In July 2022  USPS announced its intent to conduct a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that anticipated increasing the NGDV minimum BEV percentage to at least 50% and supplementing the NGDV order with a purchase of 34,500 COTS, so that the combined purchase would be for at least 40% BEV.

By May 2023 the postal service will publish for public notice and comment a Draft Supplemental EIS that will assess the potential environmental impacts of vehicle purchase alternatives, likely including those from today’s announced plan.

New NGDVs are expected to start servicing postal routes in late 2023.