USPS suggests ordering next-generation semi-electric mail trucks

The United States Postal Service, or USPS, has another new proposal that raises the percentage of electric vehicles it plans to buy to modernize its fleet (via Electric). In a press release on Wednesday, the service said “at least 50 percent” of its initial order for 50,000 next-generation mail trucks will be battery electric vehicles. That’s a big change from what the USPS leadership announced in February when they said only 10 percent of the new service fleet would be electric.

That number was raised in March when the service announced it was planning an initial order of 1,019 electric trucks, just a few weeks after telling President Biden that it would continue with its plans to have mostly gas-powered vehicles.

The environmental impact of the proposed USPS fleet has been closely examined. In April, 16 states banded together with environmental activists to sue the service in hopes of derailing its plans to make most of its fleet run on gas. Earlier in the year, there was a protest after the Environmental Protection Agency said the new vehicles, made by Oshkosh, would get just 8.6 miles per gallon with the air conditioner on.

The USPS now says it wants to purchase an additional 34,500 “commercial ready” vehicles (read: cars and trucks that weren’t built for postal delivery) over the next two years to help build its fleet. According to its press release, it wants to battery-powered as many of these “commercially available.” However, in a notice, it says as many as 14,500 of these vehicles will be gas-powered. The USPS estimates that about 40 percent of the total of 84,500 dedicated mail trucks and off-the-shelf vehicles will be electric.

The USPS is under great pressure to modernize its delivery vehicles. Grumman’s long-lived chariot, the current backbone of its fleet, is very old; It gets a lot of gas miles, it’s expensive to maintain now that it’s decades old, and it doesn’t have basic necessities like airbags or air conditioners (imagine one drive in Dallas, Texas, where the feel-like temperature reached 114 degrees Fahrenheit today). Oh, and he can’t wait for it to catch on fire.

While the USPS plans look better with each update, it remains to be seen where it will go from here. The service could end up buying about 115,000 more next-generation trucks from Oshkosh. Its press release on Wednesday says it will assess the environmental impact of future purchases but makes no specific promises as to what percentage will or won’t be electric.

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