USPS trucks to go EV by 2026 after Biden push

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The US Postal Service will buy 66,000 vehicles to build one of the largest electric fleets in the country, Biden administration officials will announce Tuesday, turning to one of the most recognizable vehicles on American roads — boxy white mail trucks — to help fight climate change.

Postal workers’ plans include purchasing 60,000 “next-generation delivery vehicles” from defense contractor Oshkosh, 45,000 of which will be electric, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy told The Washington Post. The agency will also purchase 46,000 models from established automakers, 21,000 of which will be electric.

The Postal Service will spend $9.6 billion on the vehicles and related infrastructure, officials said, including $3 billion from the Inflation Reduction Act, President Biden and the landmark Congressional Democrats’ climate, health care and tax bills .

By 2026, the agency expects to purchase almost exclusively zero-emission vans, DeJoy said. It’s a major achievement for a White House climate agenda that relies heavily on reducing greenhouse gases from vehicles.

The postal agency needs to replace its fleet of 30-year-old trucks that lack air conditioning, airbags and other standard safety features. You only get 8.2mpg.

USPS trucks do not have airbags or air conditioning. You get 10mpg. And they were revolutionary.

The eight-year journey to procuring new vehicles was arduous and marked by political struggles. White House officials threatened to block an earlier vehicle procurement proposal, saying CO2-belching vans pose an enduring risk to the planet and public health.

Fleet electrification is a key pillar of Biden’s plan to combat rising global temperatures. Biden has instructed the federal government to buy only zero-emission vehicles by 2035. With more than 217,000 vehicles, the Postal Service has the largest share of the US government’s civilian fleet.

EV boosters and environmental activists have said an electric mail fleet could significantly boost the auto industry’s investment in clean vehicles.

Biden administration officials hope this will persuade the postal service’s competitors to accelerate their own climate pledges, many of which rely on zero-carbon delivery trucks.

“I think it also puts pressure on them to up their game,” John Podesta, the White House’s senior adviser on clean energy innovation, told The Post. “If the Postal Service can come out with such an aggressive plan, the public expects these companies that have made these long-term announcements to catch up in the near future.”

Amazon, whose founder Jeff Bezos owns The Post, has pledged to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2040 and holds a nearly 20 percent stake in electric truck maker Rivian. It’s in the process of amassing an armada of 100,000 Rivian EVs that it hopes to have on the road by 2030.

FedEx has committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2040 and plans to fully electrify its pickup and delivery fleet by then. She has promised to buy only electric vehicles by 2030.

UPS plans to become carbon neutral by 2050 and use 40 percent alternative fuels by 2025.

The Post Office will continue to purchase internal combustion engine vehicles, as half of the fleet is still made up of vans and trucks, which travel longer distances to haul mail between cities and states.

“This accelerates our ability to maximize electric vehicles,” said DeJoy.

The Postal Service is restructuring its vast mail processing and delivery network to minimize unnecessary hauling and add facilities dedicated to electric vehicles. It will concentrate mail carriers in central locations rather than using small-town post offices to take advantage of existing infrastructure and the cost savings associated with electric vehicles.

Biden’s zero-emission government fleet begins with USPS

When the postal service released its first vehicle replacement plan in 2021, it was supposed to make just 10 percent of the fleet electric. The rest would have been gas-powered trucks – with 8.6mpg fuel economy with the air conditioning on – that could later be converted to battery power by swapping out under-the-hood parts. But postal workers quickly abandoned this strategy because of the cost and technical complexity.

Congressional Democrats, state officials and environmental activists were furious. Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have sued to block the 10 percent power plan, as have some of the country’s leading environmental groups.

Podesta said he confronted DeJoy about his agency’s plans when the two started talking in September. By then, the Postal Service said 40 percent of its new trucks would be electric vehicles.

“I told him I thought the original plans were totally inadequate,” said Podesta, who described the talks as friendly and focused. “I just think we thought it was critical to our success and the whole thing [climate change] Program. So we stuck with it, pushed it, he pushed back, and we pushed back.”

DeJoy said Podesta is “open minded” and has helped deal with the postal agency’s chronic budget problems.

“Our mission is to deliver mail to 163 million addresses first, and to the extent that we can coordinate with other agency and presidential missions, I want to do that,” DeJoy said.

Some of the Postmaster’s harshest critics praised the announcement. Adrian Martinez, an attorney for climate activist group Earthjustice, who is suing the agency over its vehicle sourcing, called the new truck purchase plan “a sea change in the federal fleet.”

“Over the course of a year, we’ve gone from a USPS plan to buy trucks with the fuel economy of a late 1990’s Hummer to a visionary commitment to modernize mail delivery in the United States with electric trucks,” he said. “We are grateful to the Biden administration for stepping in to put us on the road to an electric future.”

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