By on February 25, 2022

The United States Postal Service (USPS) has been under pressure from the White House to replace its aging fleet with all-electric vehicles. But it’s looking like mail carriers will continue doing their jobs in oddly shaped trucks that burn gasoline.

While the Biden administration’s green agenda calls for government fleets to begin transitioning to EVs, the USPS had already decided to purchase 165,000 examples of the Oshkosh Defense NGDV that’s dependent upon liquid fuel. Despite the contractor saying trucks could be converted into battery electric vehicles and/or hybrids, the vast majority will be wholly reliant on internal combustion. The USPS has decided that it’s just not cost-effective or practical to do anything else and no amount of pressure from the White House will be changing its mind.

Money on the other hand…

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said the agency would consider adding more EVs to its fleet sometime in the future. However, this would be dependent upon the USPS receiving more money from the government – which is pretty much what it’s been saying since before it revealed the Oshkosh trucks in 2021.

“As we have reiterated throughout this process, our commitment to an electric fleet remains ambitious given the pressing vehicle and safety needs of our aging fleet as well as our fragile financial condition. As our financial position improves with the ongoing implementation of our 10-year plan, Delivering for America, we will continue to pursue the acquisition of additional BEV as additional funding – from either internal or congressional sources – becomes available,” DeJoy stated on Wednesday. “But the process needs to keep moving forward. The men and women of the U.S. Postal Service have waited long enough for safer, cleaner vehicles to fulfill on our universal service obligation to deliver to 161 million addresses in all climates and topographies six days per-week.”

One could definitely argue that there were better alternatives to the upcoming NGDV. Effectively a modern version of the Grumman LLV (Long Life Vehicle), the Oshkosh truck offers a familiar experience with better specifications. Those LLVs more than lived up to their namesake, so it’s not surprising to see the post office wanting to stick to what has worked before.

But its efficiency has been criticized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which bemoaned its 8.6 mpg as barely better than the old Grumman’s 8.2 mpg. While fleetwide economy will stack to make a real difference, the EPA expressed concerns that the USPS Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) pertaining to the truck were lackluster and should be redone. Though the agency’s current administrator, Michael S. Regan, is an acolyte for all-electric vehicles and seems to be in broad alignment with the Biden administration’s broader agenda to electrify U.S. fleets.

“We thank the federal agencies, including the EPA, for their input,” Mark Guilfoil, USPS’s vice president of supply management, stated this week. “After thorough review and study we determined that EPA’s request for a supplemental [environmental impact statement] and public hearing would not add value to the Postal Service’s already year-long review. It is also important to note that a supplemental EIS and public hearing are not legally required.”

The post office has claimed that loading up its fleet with EVs would be too costly in the short term. While it acknowledged that battery-equipped vehicles were supposed to yield lower operating costs over time, it wasn’t ready to test that theory if it meant spending more upfront. Unless Congress passes a law that would effectively force the USPS to buy up electrics or redirects a bunch of money, all-electric mail trucks will probably remain an uncommon sight in the United States for years to come.

Expect a bunch of lawsuits from environmental groups citing the EPA’s claim that the new (non-BEV) trucks could cause $900 million in climate damages. Though we shouldn’t forget that environmental social governance (ESG) scores, the commodification of carbon credits, and social pressure are often used as leverage to force organizations to act in a manner that’s in accordance with those in power.

Officially, the Postal Service is supposed to be an independent agency that makes decisions (mostly) for itself. Unofficially, the Biden administration wants it to buy electric vehicles from an approved list of mostly unproven manufacturers – including a former frontrunner (Workhorse) that is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission and Department of Justice over accusations of fraud.

[Image: USPS]

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45 Comments on “U.S. Postal Service Decides to Snub Electric Vehicles...”

  • avatar

    No way! You mean the company that said in their bid that they likely could not produce electric vehicles but still won the bid now cannot produce electric vehicles? I mean just because their bid was just a ford transit with a body kit I’m shocked to hear this. Surely a major defense contractor with business ties to the postmaster general did not win a billion dollar contract they had no way of fulfilling? Meanwhile, Workhorse, who did submit an actual EV got nothing. Shocked I say.

  • avatar

    Well this is a missed opportunity for a very good test of EV vehicles reliability, maintainability, and real world performance across several different climates,geographical areas, and regular heavy use. Perhaps the folks at USPS have previously studied using EV’s and found them not yet ready for prime-time – it’s not as if burning federal money would have put them off.

    • 0 avatar
      Matt Posky

      I’m very hesitant to endorse rampant EV adoption, especially when it’s backed by the government. But I was also kind of hoping the USPS would try to field electrics in semi-meaningful numbers to see how they handled the abuse.

      Then I remembered that this would probably all come down to politics and money.

      • 0 avatar
        Jeff S

        Amazon will be the ones that adopt the EVs and maybe through Amazon’s experiences it will lay the path for others to adopt EVs for delivery services. EVs would make sense for local deliveries which in a major metropolitan area would work for the Postal Service.

      • 0 avatar
        Margarets Dad

        “I’m very hesitant to endorse rampant EV adoption, especially when it’s backed by the government.”

        As if fossil fuel use is not backed by the government. OK, Matt.

      • 0 avatar

        FedEx around here is all in on EV vans; they’ve been proliferating like mushrooms in the last couple months. Haven’t heard yet how they are doing but local government fleets have had excellent experiences with EV cars—high uptime, low operating cost.

      • 0 avatar

        >Then I remembered that this would probably all come down to politics and money.

        Let me fix this for you:

        Then I remembered that this ALWAYS comes down to politics and money.

        Much better.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      “…our universal service obligation to deliver to 161 million addresses in all climates and topographies six days per-week”

      This is a strawman claim by the USPS. They’re implying that a single vehicle type is used to perform all duties, but that’s clearly not the case. They obviously utilize different vehicles for different jobs.

      It shouldn’t be that hard to decide that ICE trucks will remain for long-haul duty, and certain long routes. But EVs could certainly be used in many different local delivery scenarios.

      Probably the biggest factor here: The existing fleet is 27 years old on average. If the USPS is expecting to not revisit their fleet again until 2050, then I can see why they ruled out EVs.

      My prediction: This could be the last fleet replacement the USPS ever does. After that, private carriers will replace the postal service, or some other tech.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s not federal money, it’s your postage stamp money. Congress insists the USPS pay its own way, but won’t allow it to close unneeded post offices, or sell off surplus property.

      • 0 avatar

        Funny too how the Executive branch can make demands of them when it contributes zero to the budget.


        • 0 avatar

          The executive branch does not contribute money, except through their individual payroll taxes.
          We don’t live in a dictatorship. Try taking a U.S. Government class, so you won’t make such embarrassingly uninformed comments.

      • 0 avatar

        The 7th enumerated power of the Federal Government in our Constitution requires that Congress establish post offices and post roads.

        This means every podunk town in the US is entitled to post service and Congress is required to fund it.

        The Constitution doesn’t specify how this must be done. Congress could tax the hell out of everyone to pay for it, or they could outsource the entire thing to the private sector. The only requirement is that Congress “establish post offices and post roads”.

    • 0 avatar

      Bid process and prototype testing lasted about 7 years. They did their due dilligence.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Somehow the Norwegians have it figured out:

    The USPS will never work properly, never have enough money, and never move into the future.

    • 0 avatar
      Matt Posky

      That last line you wrote probably could have been the entire article.

    • 0 avatar

      That is for 29 transfer (long haul? distribution?) trucks, not home delivery trucks. Not the same category.

    • 0 avatar

      You’re comparing a nation of 5.4 million, and 1.4 million households in an area the size of Montana (148,000 SQMI), to a nation of 332 million, with 129 million households spread over 3.5 million square miles?

    • 0 avatar

      While the USPS has been struggling with small parcels since the pandemic began, in general their performace in terms of delivering stuff on time and not losing it is on par with the commercial carriers like UPS and FedEx. Where they do fall down is in customer support. UPS will send a supervisor out to grab something off of a truck, the USPS will have you fill out a form.

      Still, the cheapest and fastest way to get a document or small parcel across the country is via Priority Express mail. The commercial carriers charge a whole lot more than $26 and change for overnight delivery. I’ve dropped off a parcel in suburban Detroit at 6 PM and it was delivered in the Los Angeles area the next morning.

      As good as the commercial carriers are, they aren’t perfect. A supplier of mine that’s been waiting for months for some circuit boards from Asia was just informed by DHL that they don’t know where they are.

    • 0 avatar

      Norway, 1/7th the population of California, is not a good comparison to United States.

  • avatar

    Tesla submitted an entry, the CyberPostalTruck. But it’s delayed until 2023, and then it will be delayed until 2024, and then it will be delayed until…

  • avatar

    This was a very smart move. EVs are a long way from prime time and are still vastly inferior to even the most basic ICE vehicles.

    It’s nice to see someone in this administration can think critically and not be swayed by the woke nonsense. When buyers don’t have to make huge compromises when owning an EV, then you will see widespread adoption. But until then they are just not an acceptable replacement.

  • avatar

    A hybrid option would have been best! I’m sure the vehicle trundling from mailbox to mailbox could spend quite a bit of time in EV mode, particularly if the weather is nice enough that the lowered window keeps things comfortable.

    • 0 avatar

      Correct. A PHEV would have been the absolute best. No infrastructure costs, no range issues, no cold weather issues and the ability to go 40-50 miles with electricity.

      Going full EV was an incredibly stupid goal. It’s obvious it wasn’t going to work or be cost effective.

  • avatar

    “Expect a bunch of lawsuits from environmental groups citing the EPA’s claim that the new (non-BEV) trucks could cause $900 million in climate damages.”

    I suppose Clown World has clown courts as well.

  • avatar

    “bemoaned its 8.6 mpg as barely better than the old Grumman’s 8.2 mpg”

    This is bad reporting. When tested under the same conditions, it achieves 14.7 MPG. That’s an 80% improvement in MPG for a larger and more versatile vehicle. They should be applauded, not bemoaned.

  • avatar

    I still don’t understand why USPS needs a specially designed mail truck when the rest of the world make do with standard work vans. Can’t they just use Ford Transit Connect and Mitsubishi Minicab MiEV? It would make them a lot cheaper and reliable.

  • avatar

    guess what the USPS has on hand? GASOLINE infrastructure. guess what the vehicles need? ELECTRIC infrastructure. cheaper than the vehicles, but still something that needs to be budgeted for and planned and INSTALLED.

    just as dumb as forcing electric on EVERYBODY, which ALSO is not happening. itll happen when it happens, but i think the USPS can save money by going that route

  • avatar

    There is not an EV vehicle platform that is ready for the size and scale of the USPS vehicle and delivery network. Urban. Rural. Cold. Hot. Charging. Fleet maintenance. Spare parts. Service network. The list goes on. EV is still bleeding edge technology, and the deliver of mail is not going to rely on bleeding edge technology. The private sector will advance the technology and someday it will come to be.

  • avatar

    This whole postal truck project was government folly. Yes lets get a bunch of private industries develop a postal vehicle that will cost the tax payer 100K each (i exaggerate) when the answer is simple and currently in use in some locations: a RHD MB Metris.
    I know its not American or built in America, but it is probably the best off the shelf solution. Get the bulk pricing and they will probably be cheaper then what this new abomination is. Make it part of the contract that the vans need to be built here or that they are CKD and assembled here. Also, add to the contract that the vehicles cannot be sold to the public after use and that they must be returned to MB and crushed. Hell you could probably have them equipped with the diesel engine.

    EV’s for the postal service will be a pipedream because of the added cost to upgrade facilities to handle the EV (charging stations, Power distribution, upgraded service, etc.)

    • 0 avatar

      Some of the Metris and Sprinters are already built in SC. Around the South, USPS has been using de-badged versions for a few years with the USPS logo in place of the 3-pointed star.

  • avatar

    It’s more about the infrastructure than the vehicles. Our fleet is far smaller than the USPS but our duty cycle is not too dissimilar.

    Charging one BEV in my driveway is fine. Charging 70+ in our yard when they all arrive back at roughly the same time is something else entirely.

    In my discussions with GM and Rivian I can say that this issue is being discussed, but that doesn’t make it cheap, easy, or fast to upgrade services at each location.

    Anyone ever tried to get an upgraded transformer installed on your power service from the utility company? When major fleets start shifting to plug in vehicle charging, I hope you have some nuke plants on standby.

  • avatar

    As I understand, the procurement process was started in 2015. At that time interested vendors were provided a set of specifications that were required to be met. Each vendor was required to produce a certain number of test vehicles for review and testing prior to the contract being awarded.
    The whole process is very time consuming. To change to an all-electric vehicle would put the process way behind schedule. The oldest LLV went into service in 1987. It’s time to put those dogs to rest.
    I anticipate the USPS will adjust the contract to include a percentage of E-LLV replacements. Those could then be put to use in metro and urban areas, where the infrastructure may be easier to install at larger mail facilities. This would then allow USPS to move the newer ICE units out to the more rural locations where the VPO’s (Vehicle Post Office) are smaller and may not yet justify the cost (some offices are very small, physically) of upgrading to EV use.
    USPS needs to get those old dogs of the street. Third and fourth generation reverse engineered parts sourced from the pacific rim nations makes it very difficult to keep them running safely and reliably.

  • avatar

    How many units of the Mercedes-Benz Metris has USPS bought? I’ve seen quite a few of those around (an RHD version), and they even have a black-and-white USPS eagle in the center of the grille, replacing the three-pointed star.

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