USPS Orders New Delivery Vehicles, Including Electric Version

In a March 24 press release, the Postal Service announced that it had placed an order for 50,000 Next Generation Delivery Vehicles with Oshkosh Defense, the contractor it had selected last year. The total cost of the order was stated to be $2.98 billion, or about $60,000 per vehicle, although that average may include costs other than the “sticker price” of each truck. 

Image courtesy of CarandDriver.com, "The New USPS Trucks: So Much for Looking Cool While You Deliver the Mail"

Electric vehicles

Of the number ordered, the agency stated that “a minimum” 10,019 vehicles would be electric-powered, with the remainder conventionally powered. The release didn’t comment on whether this apportionment was in reaction to recent criticism of the Postal Service’s initial position that the total potential order would be only 10% electric. Nonetheless, in an included quote, the Postmaster General seemed keen to take credit for the greater number of electric vehicles:

“Since I came on board a year and a half ago, we have continuously evaluated and adjusted our vehicle purchase strategy based on our future network initiatives, ongoing review of BEV application to our operational strategy, and our financial outlook ... . Based upon this work and our improving outlook, we have determined that increasing our initial electric vehicle purchase from 5,000 to 10,019 makes good sense from an operational and financial perspective. Many of our 190,000 delivery vehicles on the road are more than 30 years old and lack basic safety features which are standard in most vehicles today. ...

“Today’s order demonstrates, as we have said all along, that the Postal Service is fully committed to the inclusion of electric vehicles as a significant part of our delivery fleet even though the investment will cost more than an internal combustion engine vehicle. That said, as we have also stated repeatedly, we must make fiscally prudent decisions in the needed introduction of a new vehicle fleet. We will continue to look for opportunities to increase the electrification of our delivery fleet in a responsible manner, consistent with our operating strategy, the deployment of appropriate infrastructure, and our financial condition ... .”

Other matters

The USPS correctly noted that the NGDV is a significant upgrade from the decades-old long-life delivery vehicle that’s the core of its current fleet:

“... the NGDV will feature air conditioning, improved ergonomics, and some of the most advanced vehicle and safety technology – including 360-degree cameras, advanced braking and traction control, air bags, a front-and rear-collision avoidance system that includes visual, audio warning, and automatic braking. The vehicles will also have increased cargo capacity to maximize efficiency and better accommodate higher mail and package volumes.”

The Postal Service stated that delivery of the NGDVs would begin “in late 2023” but did not elaborate on either when or where the first deliveries would be assigned or which delivery units would be equipped to operate electric trucks. Given contemporary technology and the assessment of most observers, electric trucks likely would be placed where daily milage would be relatively low.

At a Congressional hearing early in his tenure, the PMG had argued that the cost of the infrastructure necessary to support electric delivery trucks would add a significant amount to the cost of the vehicles themselves. In turn, he stated that if Congress wanted the USPS to buy electric trucks additional financial assistance would be needed. Though politicians have been grousing recently about the Postal Service’s original plan for only 10% electric vehicles, and though there’s been discussion of appropriations to help electrify the postal fleet, nothing has been done to provide the funds.

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