By on April 28, 2022

On Thursday, The UAW and a group of environmental groups based in the United States filed numerous lawsuits in an effort to block the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) from moving forward with plants to purchase gasoline-powered next-gen delivery vehicles (NGDVs) from Oshkosh Defense. The suits are being launched on the grounds that the USPS failed to comply with environmental regulations and went back on an earlier promise to field all-electric variants.

They’re supported by the White House ⁠— which launched an initiative to convert the entire federal fleet into battery electric vehicles last year ⁠— and congressional Democrats that were angered after the Postal Service went against the Biden administration’s request to prioritize EVs. The president and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) even went so far as to request that the USPS to hold off on the $11.3 billion contract with Oshkosh so electric options can be reevaluated. However, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has repeatedly stated that it’s not realistic to field a significant number of electric vehicles and that the mail service would need additional funding from the government to consider such a move. 

While it does indeed feel like the USPS thought it could operate an electrified fleet based on its final list of candidate vehicles, it might be difficult to prove that it went back on its word in the courts. Despite there being a lot of talk about all-electric mail trucks ahead of the formal purchasing decision, the agency intentionally selected Oshkosh’s NGVDs because they were the most like the venerated Grumman LLVs that far exceeded their expected lifespans. But the manufacturer designed the new trucks with the ability to me modified into hybrids or transformed into fully electric vehicles. The USPS said this was a desirable feature and would likely be utilized more in the future as technology improved. However it had concerns that electrified models would be too expensive to adequately replace its haggard fleet and not work for every route until the relevant battery tech was better.

“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 said in February. “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.”

According to Automotive News, the United Auto Workers and its allies within the Democratic Party are upset that the USPS opted to use non-union workers based in South Carolina ⁠— rather than a UAW-represented facility in Wisconsin. Meanwhile, the environmental lobby feels misled because there won’t be a substantial number of electrified mail trucks vs traditional combustion models.

From AN:

CleanAirNow, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Sierra Club challenged USPS’s plan in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, while the UAW and the Natural Resources Defense Council said they had filed a separate challenge on similar legal grounds.

The White House and Environmental Protection Agency have also asked USPS to reconsider as have many Democrats in Congress.

In March, USPS said it had placed an initial $2.98 billion order for 50,000 next-generation delivery vehicles from Oshkosh Corp. ⁠— and had doubled its planned EV purchases from 5,000 to 10,019.

USPS said Thursday in response to the suits it had “conducted a robust and thorough review and fully complied with all of our obligations under” environmental law.

The suits argue the contract was based on an unlawfully deficient environmental analysis issued after the USPS had already decided on its plans.

The USPS announced an initial $482 million contract for Oshkosh in February of 2021, saying it could order up to 165,000 vehicles over 10 years in a deal that could exceed $6 billion. It now says that a larger percentage of the whole could become EVs if more money falls into its lap, but that it needs to start replacing the now-ancient Grumman LLVs (and whatever passenger vehicles had to be incorporated to fill out the Postal Service’s ranks) immediately.

Unless the lawsuits put the kibosh on that progress, the USPS believes the Oshkosh NGDVs should start tackling routes in 2023 ⁠— loaded with the modern safety features and creature comforts their predecessor lacked. However, only a small fraction will be electrified.

[Images: USPS]

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65 Comments on “UAW & Green Lobby Sue USPS Over Not Prioritizing EVs...”


  • avatar
    indi500fan

    When you can only renew your fleet every 30 to 35 years (the current batch is 87 to 94 models) you have to make reliability the primary consideration. Kudos to the USPS folks for taking that into account.

    As far as UAW vs otherwise, I think the union has put themselves in a very bad position with all the corruption at the top.

  • avatar
    CoastieLenn

    This may be a gross oversimplification, but this the way I see this having gone on in my head.

    USPS: “Hey guys, has anyone else noticed that our trucks are really freaking old and needed to be updated like 10 years ago? Yeah, lets do something about that now.”

    Also USPS: “WHATS UP AMERICAAAAAA?!?!?? With all this new EV tech and the need [read: edict] to go green, we want most of our new trucks to be like a Tesla… but ya know, industrial. WHOS WITH MEEEEEE?”

    America: “Hellz yeah boi, lets do this?”

    Oshkosh: “Boom, here’s your truck… but BEV is zuuper costly, just FYI.”

    *USPS opens Bank of America online banking. [sigh] *

    USPS: “Ok dudes, look we REALLY want to go green, but ya know, we just don’t have the Bennies to do that unless mom and dad give us like… WAAY more money.”

    America: “FACK YOU, we gonna sue. Go back to your old s**tty trucks, scum.”

    UAW: “LOLZ, we gonna sue too for more lolz.”

    USPS: “K, we’re pretty much just gonna die then, sooooo”

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Nailed it!

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      I think the UAW actually has something of a case because Oshkosh allowed the feds to think that their production plans included midwest union labor, and then pulled a bit of a bait and switch. It’s not that the UAW is guaranteed anything, but rather they are highlighting the gaming of the contracting process.

    • 0 avatar
      Oberkanone

      congressional Democrats that were angered after the Postal Service went against the Biden administration’s request to prioritize EVs.

      They had ample opportunity in 2015 to include EV criteria in the USPS bid process.

      Biden and congressional Democrats act like children that always want a do-over when they don’t when the game.

    • 0 avatar
      EBFlex

      “This may be a gross oversimplification,”

      I honestly don’t think you could have been more accurate. That literally made me laugh out loud. Bravo.

  • avatar
    tylanner

    8.6 mpg is truly groundbreaking and very futuristic…all with the payload capacity of a Tiguan…BRAVO

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “and not work for every route”

    Of course EVs won’t work for every route. Neither does mine. But they could work for many routes, and save a fortune doing so.

    The USPS is hopeless, but so is the UAW.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff S

      EVs conservatively would work for at least over 50 percent of the mail deliveries and where EVs don’t work a hybrid would would especially in rural areas. Typical suburban neighborhood where you are stopping at each mailbox EVs would definitely work and would save in fuel and maintenance costs. I realize the USPS is suppose to be operated independently but it would be a cost savings for the taxpayers to fund the difference in cost between ICE and EVs which would save all taxpayers in the long run and assure the USPS is viable in the future.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        The longest mail route in the US is 187.6 miles. Fedex just completed a 260-mile delivery from NY to Washington DC in a GM Zevo-600 produced at the GM CAMI plant without charging. So, the rural delivery argument is moot. An EV can cover 100% of the USPS delivery routes.

        • 0 avatar
          Jeff S

          Might not be able to but the charging structure at smaller older rural post offices. Its not just range.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            “but the charging structure at smaller older rural post offices. Its not just range.”

            That’s not a problem. They all have the capability for 220/50. I’ve been in plenty of old small postoffice. They all have plenty of power capability. If they didn’t just have the power company bring in more power. It’s not 1910 or 1920 America. If then buildings wiring can’t handle it, run it straight to the charger off of the poll.

          • 0 avatar
            Jeff S

            @mcs–I am not talking about California but the rest of the country. I have been in rural areas of Eastern and Western Kentucky along with Ohio where there was little if any electric service available. In a suburban area and metropolitan area EVs would work for postal delivery but not every where. I have been in rural areas where a rusted out trailer would be something to aspire to with dwellings that were literally made out of old garage doors and discarded building materials. Most of us don’t realize how fortunate we are. The United States Postal Service cannot just pick and choose the areas it delivers mail to and that presents a problem especially when you have a post office in a feed store. Don’t laugh I have seen everything in my past career.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “but that it needs to start replacing the now-ancient Grumman LLVs”

    Geez they only came out in 1987 and 1988. Ancient? My 1993 Volvo is offended by this. The Air Force is still flying the BUFF, can’t get more years out of the LLVs?

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      Well, the USA stopped the daily nuclear patrols in the late 60s, I believe. If they had been flying the B-52 with full payload, daily, all that time, the fleet would have been fully scrapped and replaced several times over. In fact, the ones flying now have been rebuilt extensively. Plus they don’t salt the skyways like they do the highways in my neck of the woods. Or at least they have lots of near-free grunt labor to wash the aircraft down when they do get salty. All this to say that the Grumman LLV faces a different life that is harder in some ways, despite remaining on the ground.

      • 0 avatar
        ToolGuy

        Serious question: When and how did the process of U.S. military aircraft procurement turn to crap?

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          @ToolGuy:

          I’ll say 1977, right after the A-10 Warthog and B-1 Lancer came out.

          I had thought the F-22 and F-35 were awesome ideas, but they have turned into the biggest airplane boondoggles in US military history.

          • 0 avatar
            C5 is Alive

            @ToolGuy: See also the USAF tanker procurement program, particularly as it relates to one Darleen Druyun. And yet we still wound up with the worst option on the table.

        • 0 avatar
          ToolGuy

          Wow.

          https://www.airforcemag.com/PDF/SiteCollectionDocuments/Reports/2006/April/Day04/Watch_1104.pdf

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Good points, though I was under the impression LLVs were aluminum (but perhaps the frame is not?).

        @SCE

        I thought the F-22 was actually very good?

        • 0 avatar
          dukeisduke

          The LLV is based on the first-gen Chevy S-10’s frame and running gear. The front suspension of the S-10 came from the downsized GM A-Body cars that debuted for 1978.

          And F-22 is a good plane; just insanely expensive.

      • 0 avatar
        dukeisduke

        The B-52s have been re-winged and re-skinned (fuselage), and a re-engining program is in works, using Rolls-Royce engines. It’s hard to believe it’s been 70 years since the first flight; they’re projected to stay in service into the 2050s.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      I expect an LLV gets used more in two days than an active BUFF gets used in a typical month. These things are woooooooorn out.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    Ironically, Oshkosh Defense is a company unionized by the UAW.

    Name a domestic manufacturer with a full EV for light freight service?

    I see the logic for “Greens” to sue but not the UAW.

    • 0 avatar
      240SX_KAT

      Rivian has their delivery vehicle for Amazon. It would work for the USPS.

      • 0 avatar
        Oberkanone

        Amazon lost $7.6 Billion on Rivian. USPS lost $9.1 Billion in 2021.

        EV are part of the fleet for new USPS vehicles.

        No way is the right decision for USPS with no money to spend more money it does not have to purchase EV. If they could afford EV the average post office is over 50 years old with no ability to charge fleet of EV.

        • 0 avatar

          @Ober: You make a good point. There was a recent article here that highlighted that point. What will be the cost to ‘rewire’ all the POs to accommodate charging EVs? That’s money on top of the vehicle purchases. No free lunch.

      • 0 avatar
        wolfwagen

        Where I live in Long Island, the Amazon vans I see are either Ford Transits or Sprinter Vans.
        Where are they running these Rivian vans and why isn’t Amazon promoting them

    • 0 avatar
      Garrett

      The logic is this: there were a lot of UAW members laid off when Lordstown closed, and they hoped Lordstown would win the USPS contract and bring back a bunch of jobs.

      Of course, this didn’t happen. Thus, the current attempts to derail the whole thing.

      If you can’t win the bid, wage war on other fronts, apparently.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      “Name a domestic manufacturer with a full EV for light freight service?”

      Sure. GM. Made in Ingersoll ON at CAMI. They could make a smaller version for USPS. Fedex used one to make a delivery from NY to Washington DC.

      https://www.tricountyindependent.com/story/money/2022/04/22/ev-charging-fedex-guinness-world-records/7409137001/

      https://arstechnica.com/cars/2022/04/our-first-impressions-after-driving-fedexs-new-electric-delivery-van/

      https://www.cnbc.com/2021/12/17/fedex-gets-first-of-500-electric-trucks-from-gms-ev-unit-in-move-to-green-logistics.html#:~:text=FedEx%20on%20Friday%20received%20the,Officer%20Mitch%20Jackson%20told%20CNBC.

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      A postal truck body with a Prius drivetrain would be very appropriate for this application. They are efficient, dependable and last a very long time. That setup would certainly pay for itself in reduced fuel costs years before wearing out. They also have more horsepower and torque than the ancient Iron Duke fours that are still being flogged within an inch of their lives.

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    This is exactly the kind of vehicle we ought to concentrate on electrifying first! Postal trucks are used every day, on busy, predictable schedules. Each night they return to central locations where they can easily be recharged. They drive slowly and stop often, idling while the mail is delivered. Their terrible fuel mileage multiplies the savings possible by electrification. The urban pollution benefits are obvious. The inherent low maintenance of EVs creates continuing operational savings.

    That’s the big picture. I’m not qualified to declare that all postal trucks everywhere should be built as EVs. That’s above my pay grade. I (and by that, I mean we) don’t know how quickly postal EVs can be built. We don’t know the costs involved with building gas tricks now and converting them to EV at a later date. But we need to get going on this, and produce as many postal EVs as is feasible.

    I am often loudly critical of the rush to EVs. Personally, I choose to drive a plug-in hybrid. EVs, I believe, are a waste of precious battery resources if they are only to be driven a couple hours a day. We could do a lot more fuel-saving and planet-saving by directing that cobalt and lithium and engineering brainpower and investment towards cleaning up the thirstiest, dirtiest vehicles on the road. More benefit than by convincing the average Honda or Prius owner to trade for a Tesla. It’s an age-old American problem to seek personalized, consumerist solutions instead of reforming a systemic problem…

  • avatar
    dal20402

    UAW, EVs, and Congress’s favorite football all in one post. This is really going to bring out the knuckle-draggers.

    • 0 avatar
      bullnuke

      “SCRAPE – THUMP”, “SCRAPE – THUMP”… This knuckle-dragger enters Thunder Dome. I believe that EV’s should be utilized by the USPS as a confirmation of the concept of a large fleet of such vehicles in daily (except Sundays!) use. Perhaps split the fleet between ICE / EV with the EV’s in locations that require a large number of vehicles with a more concentrated service area for their use. I see this as a great Beta test for EV’s in the current world. As for the UAW and Congress, they will, as always, scramble toward whichever way the wind is blowing the money.

      • 0 avatar
        dukeisduke

        Yep. And they already said these can be refitted with EV drivetrains as necessary, and as EV technology improves. So that can still happen. In a way, it makes them like the B-52s.

  • avatar
    pmirp1

    The environment that this president created from the first day in office with his anti oil and natural gas policies by killing Keystone pipeline and policy after policy of taking our national acreage allowed for drilling offline because of wildlife, Indian reservations, or some dramatically over exaggerated fear of Global Warming threat or anti fracking moves against Canada and Mexico and America, has now allowed greenies to want to sue every aspect of American life. Whether it is post office, whether it is cheap ICE vehicles, whether it is cheap natural gas for home heating, it is all not allowed because of Branden submitting to will of greenies.

    At least ladies and gentlemen, we can all agree Branden is the first president since 1970s that is on the cusp of creating stagflation (recession and inflation). Decline in GDP and rise in prices due to policies of greenies and Branden and now he wants to increase taxes. You can’t make this stuff up. Well at least the tax idea hopefully is dead now.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      Lol. OAN is still on? Tell me, which gas station near you was due to get Keystone oil?

      • 0 avatar
        Jeff S

        No most of the oil that would go to the Keystone Pipeline oil is refined at Gulf Coast refineries and the finished product is exported. More money is made exporting finished products and oil companies are international corporations that owe their allegiance to stockholders over American consumers. Oil companies like any corporation are in the business to maximize profits. Candidates running for office especially Republicans make it sound like the Keystone pipeline along with more drilling will increase product supply and lower price but that is not how it works. Most of these candidates have no concept of how the oil industry operates and what commodity trading is. Limited refinery capacity and selling finished products overseas will continue to keep prices high. Unless the Government limits the sale of refined products to the United States which will not happen and limit commodity trading in oil futures nothing will change. I am not advocating for elimination of either but this is the way a capitalistic free market works. Low commodity trading price and a decrease in demand will stabilize the price of gas and diesel.

  • avatar
    kcflyer

    What does the new ministry of truth say about this? That’s all that will matter from now on.

  • avatar
    SnarkIsMyDefault

    If there was ever a vehicle where an Industrial Strength Hybrid made sense it was the USPS delivery vans, and maybe city buses.

    • 0 avatar
      psychoboy

      I might be the very last person to adopt an EV for my personal life, but I totally agree that a van that can run 300 miles on an 8 hour charge every day would be the perfect vehicle for my dealership’s wholesale parts department.

      Of course, my GM wouldn’t actually let me buy one, so I’ll keep running 10-15 year old base model Silverado longbeds into the ground while my peers are getting new Transits.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    I’m as anti-EV as they come, but anyone with common sense can see a mail truck is their ideal application.

    The rural routes don’t even use LLVs anyways, they can keep on using the RHD Jeeps. But certainly the vast majority of mail routes would be better served with an EV.

    Just don’t force me to buy one.

  • avatar
    Michael S6

    Junk mail delivered by Junk trucks.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    The Post Office, along with the Department of Education and several other worthless government agencies, should simply be shut down.

    All they do is deliver junk mail–a task that could be performed by any number of private entities.

    • 0 avatar

      Oddly enough my understanding is the private shipping companies don’t really want to kill off the USPS. They use them to actually deliver most small packages in rural areas thru contracts as they don’t want to build out their network in those areas.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    That cartoonishly large windshield ought to be expensive to replace, not to mention the sun will roast the drivers in sunny climes, assuming it’s not (some even more expensive to replace) solar glass.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I’d love to see electric mail trucks, but I also think the USPS should hold off until the tech matures and becomes less expensive (which will happen).

    How about this as an alternative course: a smaller “trial” buy of a limited number of vehicles to “beta-test” the tech?

    • 0 avatar
      CoastieLenn

      For the most part, the government doesn’t “beta test” with vehicles. They don’t play “just the tip”, they play “send’er all the way in”… only to realize they’re holding a battery post cleaner, and then shelf the project.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Perhaps they should start, then.

      • 0 avatar
        bullnuke

        I might disagree with you a bit, CoastieLenn. The government went all in (and is still pushing it to the hilt) with a poorly designed and under-performing class of ships to the tune of $500 million each for 23 ships (and still building!) as a Beta test of a concept for littoral warfare while decommissioning the same class early due to being poorly designed and under-performing.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      @FreedMike: “hold off until the tech matures ”

      Absolutely. I’ve been playing that game a bit myself for my next EV. They should wait until at least 2025. Wait for the 2nd generation of sodium-ion batteries to break 200 to 225 Wh/kg gravimetric density and they should be good for cost and durability. 2025 is my guess when that will happen and they’ll be in mass production. CATL is gearing up production for the 1st gen of Na-ion now. Li-ion at that point will be for high-performance high-cost vehicles only. Na-ion and LFP will be the mainstream. Tesla already is 50% LFP.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    As the LLV is based on the S10, the right answer is to simply swap out those iron dukes with LS power!

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff S

      Some of those LLVs could be switched to a more modern and efficient engine and some could even be made EVs. Not saying that they shouldn’t be replaced but it might take years before many post offices get replacement vehicles.

  • avatar
    GoFaster58

    That is one ugly vehicle!

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