The United States Postal Service originally planned to purchase 5,000 all-electric versions of Oshkosh Defense’s 50,000 new mail trucks. That number doubled to 10,000 in March, and now the USPS is has seemingly thrown caution to the wind and decided, what the hell, at least half of all the trucks should be EVs.
The USPS also announced intent to procure 34,000 “off-the-shelf” commercial vehicles — ones not designed specifically for the service — over a two-year period. From Reuters:
The company plans to buy up to 20,000 left-hand drive Commercial Off-the-Shelf vehicles, “including as many BEVs as are commercially available and consistent with our delivery profile” and up to 14,500 gas-powered right-hand drive vehicles.
In total, USPS says at least 40% of the 84,500 vehicles it will buy will be EVs.
USPS announced in March it planned an initial $2.98 billion order. Last month, the company told Reuters it expected to raise the number of EVs as it supplemented its environmental impact statement (EIS).
A sizable contingent of EVs is of course what the USPS should have aimed for from the very beginning. But the Postal Service seemingly missed the memo that internal combustion-powered versions of Oshkosh’s Next Generation Delivery Vehicle (NGDV) would only guarantee 8.6 miles per gallon, four tenths of a gallon better than the soon-to-be obsolete Grumman Long Life Vehicles.
That led to harsh but justified critique from the Environmental Protection Agency earlier this year that “the Postal Service executed a contract, including an award of $482 million before conducting any analysis of the environmental impacts of the project as required by [National Environmental Policy Act].”
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It also spurred on lawsuits in 16 states and even a legal complaint from the United Auto Workers union about why anyone in their right mind would replace 30-plus year-old trucks with ones that will be obsolete by the end of this decade. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s ties to his previous employer, XPO Logistics, which at one time was a strategic partner to Oshkosh-owned JLG Industries, may provide a rationale. So would a suspiciously-timed stock purchase.
While the USPS once predicted that upgrading to a full battery-electric fleet would cost it an extra $3 billion over two decades, the EPA stated in its February letter that the Postal Service “failed to explain the basis for the electric vehicle cost assumptions employed and did not consider the financial risk from near complete reliance on petroleum-based fuels with volatile prices.
“Despite corrections offered by EPA in its comments on the draft [Environmental Impact Statement], the Postal Service systematically and substantially underestimated [greenhouse gas] emissions from its new ICE vehicles, while overestimating GHG emissions from BEVs,” the letter added. The USPS ultimately got there in the end, though it required a year-plus of shaming.