USPS relents: 75 percent of new fleet will be electric

old usps mail truck fleet
Flickr | Navymailman

United States Postal Service Postmaster General Louis DeJoy had a problem. The 220,000 Grumman-built Long Life Vehicles, or LLVs, badly needed replacement as the Postal Service’s main delivery truck. The post office gave a 10-year contract to Oshkosh, the Wisconsin company, to build the replacement—the Next Generation Delivery Vehicle, or NGDV, nicknamed “the duckbill platypus” due to its long, flat nose. The vehicles started showing up this year.

Oshkosh can build the trucks either with gas engines or electric powertrains. General DeJoy, looking at his budget, decided to buy mostly gasoline-powered trucks, because they were cheaper and familiar to service. Early fleet ratios said that only 10 percent of the trucks would be electric, the rest gas.

Oshkosh USPS Truck suburbs delivery mock up electric mail truck

Environmentalists, President Joe Biden being one of them, were aghast. Shouldn’t the federal government lead the way to electrification? Some of those environmental groups sued, as did 16 states, and the EPA complained loudly.

It didn’t help matters that the gasoline-powered Oshkosh NGDV, powered by a 3.5-liter V-6, only delivers 8.6 mpg when the air conditioner is running. The existing Grumman LLV, which doesn’t even have AC, gets only 8.6 mpg too, according to the Postal Service.

So, under pressure, General DeJoy relented. As of December 2022, the Postal Service is increasing its initial order of NGDV duckbills to 60,000, of which 45,000 will be EVs by 2028. The targeted minimum ratio of EVs to gas-burning vehicles in the replacement fleet now stands at 75 percent. All vehicles ordered by the agency after 2026 are expected to be EVs.

Oshkosh USPS Truck features diagram

The Postal Service also expects to purchase an additional 21,000 battery-electric delivery vehicles through 2028, representing a mix of commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) products. Acquisitions delivered in 2026 through 2028 expected to be 100 percent electric. Translation: Oshkosh can’t build enough duckbills, so they’ll buy mostly existing electric vehicles to round out the fleet.

The USPS made it clear that they have a preference for domestic-built vehicles, so we’ll see how quickly some of the manufacturers of EVs can come up with a right-hand-drive variation. Our money’s on the Chevrolet Bolt. It delivers pizza for Domino’s, so it can certainly deliver mail.

On top of all that, “Feasibility of achieving 100 percent electrification for the overall Postal Service delivery vehicle fleet will continue to be explored.”

All this costs money, of course: Total investment is expected to reach $9.6 billion, including $3 billion from Inflation Reduction Act funds. That $3 billion was earmarked by Biden to go towards electrification, so he’s getting his way with this new breakdown of mail delivery product. Of course, that will have to pay for charging stations for the new electric truck, which may or may not be covered in that $9.6 billion.

USPS Truck
Gado via Getty Images

Said Postmaster General DeJoy: “We have a statutory requirement to deliver mail and packages to 163 million addresses six days per week and to cover our costs in doing so—that is our mission. As I have said in the past, if we can achieve those objectives in a more environmentally responsible way, we will do so.”

Apparently, the President convinced him they can.

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    “Of course, that will have to pay for charging stations for the new electric truck, which may or may not be covered in that $9.6 billion.”

    This has been my question all along and has been grossly overlooked so far. Installing chargers for overnight charging at the post offices makes sense to me, but it will definitely cost more money.

    Fleets with a home base to charge at can probably make this make sense. Legislation means it doesn’t have to make sense anyways.

    Not an attractive commercial vehicle to my eye. Lots of headspace above the driver in the one photo, but sure 25% more windshield than needed is surely a cost saving all the way down the life cycle.

    And so why does a company producing a non-mass produced vehicle get the job? Why not RAM, or Ford, or GM, or even MB – all mass-produced in North America? Cost effective or efficient? If it was I suspect Amazon or others would be all over it. Just curious . . .

    In 2015 the Post Office put out a request for quote for the Next Generation Delivery Vehicle with their list of design specifications. (The vehicle looks like it does because the design spec calls out things like an aluminium body, sliding doors, standing room in the cargo area, sight lines out the windshield, etc.) It also couldn’t cost more than $35,000 per vehicle. 15 companies submitted bids including US automakers. 6 companies made the cut and went to the next round where they made prototypes and USPS tested them. Of those 6 Oshkosh won the contract. The OshKosh vehicles use Ford drivetrains.

    Ford was one of the companies that submitted a bid but they were rejected because they submitted a vehicle based on the Transit that didn’t meet the design spec. The most obvious big miss was submitting a steel vehicle for design spec that said it has to be aluminum.

    Sounds great. It won’t cost anything to operate them if they just use “government money” to pay for all of the massive infrastructure and improvements required to make them work on “free” sunshine and wind.

    But seriously, why do we need junk mail delivered 6 days a week? If businesses received mail on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and residential received mail Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday it could considerably reduce the amount of vehicles and employee hours needed.

    A change like that would likely require a change to the constitution (no joke) and many of us old people rely on more regular mail service for medications and other things. As for the subject of the story, I am not an EV fan and hope I never own one, but come on. The mail trucks should be running on clean alternate fuels whether its hydrogen (as our local busses do) or electric. A fleet of gas powered trucks at 9 MPG? That’s not sustainable and so short-sighted that it really shows what a poor choice DeJoy was for the job.

    Eliminating Saturday delivery would be a good start. Unfortunately, politicians are afraid of the backlash from making that decision. (You know, getting reelected is the #1 priority.)

    This is a practical starting point for EV vehicles. Set routs an fleet use.

    Long term cost should be reduced. Right now the expenses on the present trucks it high and repairs are often. If they can use aluminum bodies they could just move bodies to a new platform when needed if designed properly.

    But knowing the government they will mess this up some how.

    This is one of these tests that will make or break the EV. I was rather surprised at the mileage their gas vehicles are getting until you see how the average letter carrier drives… stop, full throttle, stop, wash, rinse, repeat.

    On one hand this is an ideal scenario for EVs – they probably are not going terribly far in total miles every day and can tolerate the limited range of the EVs.

    The high stop/start duty cycle could be benefitted by an EV with regenerative brakes, but this service is also likely to put the durability of EVs – including the batteries to the test

    then there is charging… you are going to have up to 100 vehicles which will likely use most of their available range and need to be back to 100% in the morning all hooking up to high capacity chargers at night. Does your local post office have the power service to handle this? Does the local grid have the expansion capacity to handle the increase? This is an experiment that will all probably be played out in real-time when these things start showing up at your local post office

    I charge the smart with 110 and 8 sleeping hours are usually enough. If these batteries are bigger, 12 hours should be plenty.

    It’s well know that on 110 volts, you only add about 3 miles per hour. And your not carrying a couple hundred pounds of mail in your smart car. They are going to need 220 at a minimum.

    The local delivery model is a perfect situation for EV power. I just watched a youtube video of the new Amazon delivery van. 150 mile range; the driver still had 146 miles of range after doing more than half his route. Regenerative braking shines bright. A known stopping point every day minimizes charging infrastructure costs as well. Fleets of EV semis and delivery vans are certainly in the future and will help the country gauge the costs and effects of the move to EVs. Not the last step, for sure. But a great step forward.

    Has all the markings of a possible cart before the horse scenario as the push for EVs without a plan for charging stations and future higher costs for Cobalt and other battery ingredients which as we know today is controlled by the Chinese. Even Toyota has reservations for the tooling needed to produce EVs with gas cars truly wanted by many people.

    Sure would be nice to see a “carbon output comparison” to see which emits more greenhouse gases: 1) gas-powering the current fleet vs 2) generating the electricity (via coal powered electricity plants) to recharge the EV versions every night. Seems like that would be imminently logical, rational, and decison-based. Wonder if that was even done, and if so, why it never seems to come to the attention of, well, ANYbody.

    The thermal efficiency of a gasoline engine is in the 20%- 30% range. The current state of the art coal fired power plant is 43% but the average plant is about 30%. So the coal plant is the most efficient. However burning coal produces about 40% more CO2 than gasoline per Btu produced. Far and away the gasoline car wins. Switch to a Natural Gas power fired plant and the EV is the winner.

    That comparison was done. There is a 339 page environmental impact statement on the topic. Includes everything down to the brake pad particles.

    What an ugly vehicle. If it were anyone but the post office i might say it would be a good test case for EV fleet vehicles. But throw government money (our money) at it and watch the billions go down the drain.

    If they did I’m sure it would just be candy coated. Keep in mind that only EV’s are on the current agenda. It’s only about optics, not substance. “Looks” like they’re saving the planet-as if it needed to be saved.

    New motto: “Either rain, cold, snow or lack of charging station will prevent these couriers from making their rounds.” Make the tree-huggers happy by running an electric generation plant, solar farm or windmill on someone else’s property.

    My understanding is that the trucks are built by Oshkosh Defense, a military defense operation who probably know nothing about civilian vehicles as shown by the design. Further, the Company is building a plant in South Carolina to manufacture.
    The freight costs to ship the trucks around the US will be astronomical. Back to design, the windshield presents a clear and consistent danger to the driver should a head-on accident occur. Without charging stations at every Post Office first before vehicular delivery, the EV propulsion becomes questionable.

    I vote for Ken L as the Postmaster General ! 3X a week, how smart is that. Efficiency in a Government operation, Never been tried, but It just might work !

    The Postmaster General has no say in how many days a week the Post Office delivers mail. Congress controls that and every time the Post Office submits a plan to save money by cutting back delivery days Congress says no.

    We are lucky if we get all our mail now. When the rolling blackouts start, because the grid is not up to charging all these vehicles, we’ll be lucky to get mail once a week.

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