The United States Postal Service, or USPS, has another new proposal that raises the percentage of electric vehicles it plans on purchasing to modernize its fleet (via Electrek). In a press release on Wednesday, the service said that “at least 50 percent” of its initial order for 50,000 next-generation mail trucks will be battery electric vehicles. That’s quite a change from what USPS leadership announced in February when they said that only 10 percent of the service’s new fleet would be electric.
That number did get bumped up in March when the service announced it was planning an initial order including 10,019 electric trucks, just a few weeks after telling President Biden that it would continue with its plans to obtain mostly gas-powered vehicles.
The environmental impact of the USPS’s proposed fleet has been closely scrutinized. In April, 16 states banded together with environmental activists to sue the service in hopes of blocking its plans to make most of the fleet gas-powered. Earlier in the year, there was an outcry after the Environmental Protection Agency said that the new vehicles, made by Oshkosh, would get a mere 8.6 miles per gallon with the air conditioning on.
The USPS now says that it wants to buy an additional 34,500 “commercial off-the-shelf” vehicles (read: cars and trucks that aren’t purpose-made for postal deliveries) over the next two years to help build out its fleet. According to its press release, it wants as many of these as are “commercially available” to be battery-powered. In a notice, however, it does say that up to 14,500 of those vehicles will be gas-powered. The USPS estimates that around 40 percent of the 84,500 total purpose-built mail trucks and off-the-shelf vehicles will be electric.
The USPS is under a lot of pressure to modernize its delivery vehicles. The current main workhorse of its fleet, the Grumman Long Life Vehicle, is extremely outdated; it gets terrible gas mileage, is expensive to maintain now that it’s decades old, and doesn’t have basic necessities like air bags or air conditioning (imagine driving one in Dallas, Texas, where the feels-like temperature reached 114 degrees Fahrenheit today). Oh, and it just cannot wait to catch fire.
While the USPS’s plans are looking better with each update, it does remain to be seen where it will go from here. The service could end up buying around 115,000 more next-generation trucks from Oshkosh. Its press release on Wednesday says that it’ll evaluate the environmental impact of future purchases but doesn’t make any definitive promises about what percentage will or won’t be electric.