By on March 9, 2021

Despite the United States Postal Service (USPS) having recently finalized its plan to award Oshkosh Defense a $482 million contract to replace its ramshackle fleet with sparkly new Next Generation Delivery Vehicles (NGDV), Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said it could only afford to make 10 percent of the fleet electric. The USPS would allegedly need another 3 or 4 billion dollars in government assistance to make BEVs happen in meaningful numbers and some lawmakers seem happy to oblige.

A bill sponsored by House Representative Jared Huffman (a California Democrat), introduced on Monday, seeks to allocate $6 billion to increase the number of EVs used by the USPS — with the stipulation that at least 75 percent of the motor pool be zero-emission vehicles. The original plan estimated expenditures of roughly $6.3 billion over the duration of the 10-year program to modernize the United States’ postal fleet. But the service ultimately decided to go with Oshkosh’s internal combustion model, rather than the electric prototypes offered by other manufacturers.

This is at odds with the Biden administration’s promise to transition all government fleets to electric propulsion, though many have suggested that a mixed fleet would actually be preferable. EVs seem ideal for urban parcel deliveries while internal combustion remains the stalwart option for long trips and heavy loads until battery technology improves. The bill appears to account for this by requiring a minimum of half of the USPS’ medium and heavy-duty vehicle purchases to be electric or zero-emission through 2029. All new trucks will need to be zero emissions by 2040, however.

According to Reuters, the proposal is backed by over a dozen key Democrats, including Representative Peter DeFazio, who chairs the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and Representative Carolyn Maloney, who chairs the Oversight and Reform Committee that oversees the USPS.

“We welcome and are interested in any support from Congress that advances the goal of a Postal Service vehicle fleet with zero emissions, and the necessary infrastructure required to operate it,” the USPS said on Monday. “With the right level of support, the majority of the Postal Service’s fleet can be electric by the end of the decade.”

To be fair, the majority of the Postal Service’s fleet could have also been electric by the end of the decade had it chosen another manufacturer (e.g. Workhorse). But we understand that the chance to toss money at well-connected defense contractors is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the federal government. Er… wait… That happens all the time.

We’re not totally unsympathetic, though. Oshkosh is arguably the company best suited to tackle this from a production standpoint and optioning more internal combustion vehicles probably does maximize their overall utility. The USPS was also spending over a billion dollars per year just keeping its old fleet running, something it says will end once the NGDV has supplanted the old beaters. But there’s something annoying and wholly predictable about the government talking up how the Postal Service would be going all-electric for months, only to see it make an antithetical decision and then state that it needs more money.

[Image: USPS]

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48 Comments on “Lawmakers Introduce Bill Offering USPS More Money for EVs...”


  • avatar
    kcflyer

    And you get some pork, and you get some pork…..Buy arable land my friends, put it in a trust for your kids/ loved ones. Some day the music is going to stop and the pols will be out of other peoples money.

  • avatar
    Cicero

    $482 million for battery-powered post office trucks. Whooppeee!

    Everybody gets money! Money for everyone! We got boatloads of it! Woo-hooo!

  • avatar
    Imagefont

    These are good candidates for hybrids with all the start/stop. All pure EV’s are a waste of money and materials, especially work vehicles that need to haul 1000-1500 lbs of mail.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      “All pure EV’s are a waste of money”
      Actually, they aren’t. They can handle 1000 to 1500 lbs without a problem. Where are your numbers? How many miles/kWh do you think a postal van would get that you think it couldn’t do the job?

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      The majority of postal vehicles travel under 20 miles per day and they typically don’t go that fast. Certainly it won’t work for all routes but it will work for huge numbers of routes. As the battery degrades and range decreases you shuffle the assignments around so to match the vehicles range. Yeah he people with the longest routes get a new ride every couple of years and the people with the shortest routes get a new to them 10 year old truck.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Using figures from this writeup:
    https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2020/4/22/21229132/usps-coronavirus-electrify-postal-trucks

    • USPS spends ~$500 million/year on fuel (195 million gallons of gasoline equivalent)

    Proposal is to spend $6 billion to electrify 75% of the fleet; let’s say (rough math) this cuts the fuel [energy] cost in half.

    So what would you pay for an annuity returning $250 million/year? Many corporations use a hurdle rate of something like 12%. So in the real world this proposal would be ‘worth’ $2 billion (present value) but ‘cost’ $6 billion. Rejected.

    But this is government, where Social Security gets a 2.2% return and everyone is thrilled:
    https://www.marketwatch.com/story/if-social-security-were-a-private-retirement-fund-wed-sue-11615306418

    • 0 avatar
      TheEndlessEnigma

      The part you’re not able to capture is the infrastructure costs needed by USPS to install charging stations (costs in addition to the vehicles) as well as the soon to be increasing electricity costs. Electrification requires additional electrical generating capacity, something the libtards actively stand in the way of. In the end, I’m going to guess the up front capital costs, electricity costs, cost of maintenance (higher than ICE vehicles) I think we’re going to find electrification of the USPS fleet will COST MORE than introducing high efficiency ICE engine vehicles and/or hybrid technology. Also, let’s fast forward a couple of years down the line when battery pack replacements are necessary because the batteries are worn out….another government debacle incoming.

  • avatar

    Why 6 billions? Make it trillions. It is just a number in computer memory. Who cares. Zombie generation will pay.

  • avatar
    merfk

    I’m glad they are going electric. I hate the diesel taste my mail gets from the current trucks.

    • 0 avatar
      Oberkanone

      Let’s keep this discussion fact based. What diesel powered make and model vehicle is used by USPS and delivers your mail?

      Current truck is Grumman LLV. Powered by gasoline fueled engine. 2.5L 4 cylinder supplied by GM. Iron Duke is it’s name.

      USPS also purchased over 9 thousand Ram Promaster 2500 vans to replace some of the LLV no longer fit for service. They are powered by gasoline fueled V6.

      USPS purchased Dodge Caravan in the past. Powered by 3.3L V6 gasoline fueled engine. High maintenance cost and low service life made these vehicles problematic. They are available used from the usual government auction sites. Most often in very poor condition.

      USPS is not going electric. Not yet. They expect 10% of the contract to be EV. Cost is too high, capability falls short at the current time.

      Oshkosh vehicles will decrease pollution, improve safety, decrease operational cost.

      USPS is a business. One that is losing money year over year. Spending and extra 6 billion for EV would be the end of the USPS.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      That’s probably the smell of Chinesium.

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    I would much rather see the world’s limited supplies of lithium, cobalt and other battery chemicals being used intensively in postal trucks and delivery vehicles, than used in my own personal vehicle, which sits parked most of the time even on busy days. So Partial electrification of these vehicles makes good sense.

    • 0 avatar
      Oberkanone

      What is life of EV battery when vehicle use is 8 hours plus per day, 6 days a week?

      Longevity of battery is a problem.
      Range decrease of battery is a problem.
      Battery replacement cost is a problem.
      USPS can’t afford cost and reliability problems.

      EV makes good sense for USPS when EV technology solves a few of these problems. Battery technology progresses rapidly. USPS may not need to wait long. Oshkosh already has experience manufacturing battery powered commercial equipment. Engineering capability is core capability of Oshkosh.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        “Longevity of battery is a problem.”
        Actually, that’s not the case anymore. Problems with dendrite growth have been vastly reduced due to new electrode coating technologies. The manufacturers have been building in spare capacity for some time now. Besides, when the postal vans range drops from 200 miles to 130 when it’s doing a 40-mile route, it really isn’t an issue.

        “Battery replacement cost is a problem.”
        No it’s not. The fleet is large enough that they should be able to operate a centralized battery refurbishment operation. Cell prices are falling quickly, so in 5 or 6 or even 10 years when they might need replacements, they’ll be well under $100 per kWh. Even at $125/kWh, a full set of cells for a 60 kWh pack is about $7500. At $80/kWh, that drops to $4800. My guess is that the rest of the vehicle won’t outlast the battery anyway.

        “USPS can’t afford cost and reliability problems.”
        Exactly why they need to get away from ICE vehicles.

        “What is life of EV battery when vehicle use is 8 hours plus per day, 6 days a week?”
        A lot better than ICE vehicles perform under those conditions. Being used in a postal vehicle is a worst-case use for an ICE.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        Replacement batteries cost about the same as an automatic transmission ($2800), and they last about as long (in a Nissan):
        https://www.greentecauto.com/hybrid-battery/repurposed-batteries/nissan-leaf/48-gen-1-nissan-leaf-battery-modules

        Bigger batteries cost more. Tesla and Chevy batteries last longer than Nissan Leaf batteries. Newer EV models are less likely to have aftermarket battery rebuilders, but they’ll get there as the demand for rebuilt batteries matures.

        Also, new EVs are required to come with an 8-year battery warranty in the United States.

        Overall, the comparison between a battery and an automatic transmission isn’t too far off.

        Considering the daily cost savings of running on cheaper fuel, a BEV can be a pretty good deal. (Of course, you have to crunch the numbers for your particular situation/routes/duty-cycle to be sure.)

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          Sodium-IOn batteries are starting to enter mass production. Their gravimetric density isn’t as good as current lithium ions, but is about the same or better than what was in the Leaf. Sodium Ion might be a good choice for a Postal vehicle.

          https://spectrum.ieee.org/energywise/energy/batteries-storage/sodium-ion-batteries-poised-to-pick-off-large-scale-lithium-applications

          Some of these battery lab projects are starting to make it into mass production. Costs and other issues will start disappearing over time.

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          That same nissan you reference costs around 8 grand for a battery pack.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “So Partial electrification of these vehicles makes good sense.”

      Most fleet and commercial would vastly benefit, this should have been the focus in the late 00s and early 10s and would have allowed for further real world feedback which could have been incorporated today. Oops.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        28-cars-later:
        “Most fleet and commercial would vastly benefit, this should have been the focus in the late 00s and early 10s and would have allowed for further real world feedback which could have been incorporated today. Oops.”

        I own a 2010 GMC Sierra Hybrid. The drivetrain in it is really good, and I’m kind-of amazed that it’s not in every commercial delivery van.

        The technology was there and was good — it’s just that nobody wanted to pay to use it. So, my truck is a rare beast.

        I like this drivetrain enough that I can’t see myself owning any truck less electrified than this one in the future. If that means I keep this one for a while, or if I have to buy a Cybertruck, so be it.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          That hybrid 6.0L powertrain really is great. It was depressing both (1) how little effort GM put into marketing it and (2) the knee-jerk contempt that substantial segments of pickup and SUV buyers displayed for it without ever trying it out.

          • 0 avatar
            Luke42

            “That hybrid 6.0L powertrain really is great.”

            I like it a little more every time I drive it.

            I suspect “traditional truck buyers” would like the hybrid drivetrain as much as I do, if they had a chance to live with it for a few days.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          @Luke

          I was just reading about them, certainly a good idea released at the wrong time. I’d be curious to know how they hold up over time and if parts for the hybrid specific bits are still available?

  • avatar
    wolfwagen

    The Government Oversight and Reform Committee is an oxymoron at best and a GD joke at worst

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    The sun’s not out.
    The wind ain’t blowin.
    Can’t charge the fleet.
    Your mail ain’t goin.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      indi500fan: That’s why utilities are installing grid storage systems everywhere.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Tesla would like to sell the solution:
      https://www.tesla.com/megapack

      In the meantime, we’ll just replace obsolete coal-fired plants with cheaper/cleaner natural-gas powered peaker plants.

      When it’s windy and sunny, the peaker plants throttle down. Otherwise, they throttle up. Either way, it’s cheaper and cleaner than coal!

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Tesla would like to sell the solution:
      https://www.tesla.com/megapack

      In the meantime, they’ll just replace obsolete coal-fired plants with cheaper/cleaner natural-gas powered peaker plants.

      When it’s windy and sunny, the peaker plants throttle down. Otherwise, they throttle up. Either way, it’s cheaper and cleaner than coal!

  • avatar
    Dartdude

    The problem I see is that using EV would still drive up the cost of electricity. Should have a surcharge on homes with electric vehicles. That way the owners pay the true costs.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Fed can just print some electricity, right?

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      What about electric water heater surcharges? They use more than an EV. Since I work more from home, I’ve got three small supercomputers that put my EV to shame as far as power consumption goes.

      Actually, with the money that was flowing to the oil companies going to your local utility, they can afford to upgrade to cheaper sources of power and ultimately lower your costs. In case you haven’t noticed, those utilities do in fact have their eye on that money and are actively promoting utilities.

  • avatar
    stuki

    Nothing says Financialized States of Dystopia, like playing office on the stolen fruit of other people’s labor.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheatridger

      Are you disturbed about the taxes your parents paid to pay for the trucks that have delivered your mail all these years? Or just when it’s your turn to pay your share?

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        For some.of us it always seems to be our turn to pay up. For others, their number never seems to get called.

        • 0 avatar
          Luke42

          @Art Vandelay:
          “For some.of us it always seems to be our turn to pay up. For others, their number never seems to get called.”

          The greater your income, the more of the taxes you pay. My number was called this year.

          Having been poor, and starting to turn the corner, it’s my turn to pay up. Back when I was poor, I was upset about paying taxes. Now that I can afford it, though, paying a fee to keep our nation civilized seems like a pretty good deal. [shrug]

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            No, it’s more like when you get above a certain point, you pay taxes and for others it is a payday via various credits and “stimuli”.

            I have no issue paying for roads, defense, and taking care of those that can not. But taking money from me and writing thousands of dollars in checks to others just because is not a cost of living in a civilized society.

            Besides, circa 2008 I was told by Candidate Obama that the 2 trillion dollar cost of the Iraq war had bankrupted us. That was over nearly a decade. Now we snap our fingers and spend 1.9 trillion which is on top of money already spent? Something stinks.

            But hey, you earned it…just like that child tax credit and “earned income credit”.

            It’s cool, hate on my politics 364 days of the year, now here is a greasy palm full of money on the 365th. Someone’s got to pay. Like Jack said, “You need me on that wall lol”. Now off with you and don’t bother me until next April please.

      • 0 avatar
        C5 is Alive

        Absolutely NO ONE in the federal government possesses the moral authority to dictate what “your share” should be.

        This dying nation is already too far gone and almost certainly cannot be salvaged in its current form. May as well starve it.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          “Absolutely NO ONE in the federal government possesses the moral authority to dictate what “your share” should be.”

          We have a Constitution that expressly gives that authority to Congress, first in Article I, Section 8, and then again in the Sixteenth Amendment (which was adopted after some conservative judges distorted the meaning of Article I, Section 8 beyond any reasonable interpretation of its very simple text).

          If you feel there is no moral authority behind the provisions of the Constitution, then perhaps you would be happier living somewhere without an effective one, such as Syria or southern Somalia.

          • 0 avatar
            C5 is Alive

            The Constitution defines legal authority, not moral. Put in simpler terms you’re more likely to understand, who in Congress would you allow to walk up to you and take your wallet?

            As for Somalia… well, give it time. We’re not as far from it as you’d like to think.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I say this with respect and understanding of what your profession is, but the Sixteenth Amendment is abhorrent and without it you likely see no US involvement in the First World War, no Great Depression, and probably no Second World War.

            “Let me end my talk by abusing slightly my status as an official representative of the Federal Reserve. I would like to say to Milton and Anna: Regarding the Great Depression. You’re right, we did it. We’re very sorry. But thanks to you, we won’t do it again.”

            https://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/Speeches/2002/20021108/

            I’ll also add taxes are pointless in a world where they simply print money to fund government operations. Other than a control mechanism, all taxes provide is partial collateral to issue bonds against and reduce the number of dollars needed to print every year (or every few months it feels like).

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            It won’t surprise you to know that I disagree with everything in that post.

            The Sixteenth Amendment is redundant with Article I Section 8. It wouldn’t have been necessary except for one awfully reasoned 1895 Supreme Court decision. Here’s the history: https://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/interpretation/amendment-xvi/interps/139

            Continued lack of income tax would have changed history, but not ion the ways you think. It would have further concentrated capital, likely channeling the forces that led to the Progressive movement in a more violent direction. As occurs when capital is intensely concentrated (including now, mostly because we now functionally exempt the very richest from income tax through a combination of low capital gains rates and nonexistent enforcement), it would have increased the exposure of ordinary people to economic swings in a destabilizing way. That’s not a recipe for keeping out of conflict.

            And your last contention isn’t right either. Even if you accept the MMT premise that we basically can print unlimited money (I do not, although I’m no goldbug either), taxes serve a different function from printing money: they redistribute existing money and provide incentives for or against different types of behavior.

            If someone made me king, the first thing I would do would be to make the very rich pay reasonable income taxes again. The same effective 25% to 30% that most high wage earners pay—that’s all I ask. It would actually be profoundly stabilizing for society.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            “taxes serve a different function from printing money: they redistribute existing money and provide incentives for or against different types of behavior.”

            And here I was thinking that their purpose was to fund the activities of the Federal Government.

            The problem with your strategy is that eventually pie come.in to power and want to encourage activities you don’t like. Taxes should be a tool to generate operating funds for the government collecting them. What you propose is a.means of control. This is a fundamental difference in the governing philosophy of conservatives vs. progressives.

          • 0 avatar
            Featherston

            “. . . I’m no goldbug either.” Outrageous, sir! McKinley 2024, I say!

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