The U.S. Postal Service today began awarding contracts to order thousands of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) to replace its aging, gasoline-powered mail trucks, in accordance with its December announcement that it would acquire at least 66,000 BEVs as part of its 106,000-truck acquisition plan by 2028.
USPS has now put that plan into motion by awarding contracts for 9,250 commercially available, left-hand drive (LHD) Ford E-Transit vans, and also placing initial orders for more than 14,000 charging stations to be deployed at Postal Service facilities. At the same time, USPS also ordered 9,250 commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) internal combustion engine vehicles, citing an “urgent need for vehicles” as part of its delivery vehicle replacement plan.
When USPS originally unveiled its plan in 2021 to replace its huge fleet of 30-year-old trucks, it had specified that just 5,000 of the new units would be electric. The service immediately took heat from lawmakers over the environmental impact of adding those gas-burning vehicles, but responded that its fragile finances wouldn’t allow it to afford to more expensive electric models.
The postal service changed its mind by the end of 2022 after Congress passed the Postal Service Reform Act of 2022, which helped the agency to balance its books, and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which provided additional funding for green investment. USPS now says it is on track for its total investment in new vehicles to reach $9.6 billion, including $3 billion from IRA funds.
Under the new plan, USPS said future purchases of additional vehicles over the next five years are intended to include a 75% electric fleet of Next Generation Delivery Vehicles (NGDVs), with acquisitions after 2026 being 100% electric.
USPS has not yet finalized the specific locations for deployment of the new electric vehicles and charging infrastructure, saying its strategy will depend on route characteristics. However, the service said it plans to begin building out its charging infrastructure across a minimum of 75 locations within the next 12 months.
“We are moving forward with our plans to simultaneously improve our service, reduce our cost, grow our revenue, and improve the working environment for our employees. Electrification of our vehicle fleet is now an important component of these initiatives,” Louis DeJoy, Postmaster General, said in a release. “We have developed a strategy that mitigates both cost and risk of deployment – which enable execution on this initiative to begin now. I again want to thank the Administration officials and members of Congress who have assisted us in this initiative. Each has shown genuine understanding that our movement toward electrification must be thoughtful and deliberate, must appropriately manage risk, and must be consistent with our primary delivery mission for the American people.”