USPS Decides Electric Trucks Are Good, Actually

Postal Service doubles initial EV order to more than 10,000 vehicles.
Louis DeJoy clapping
Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images
Screen Shot 2021-02-24 at 3
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The United States Postal Service announced its first official order for its Next Generation Delivery Vehicles, the ones that will eventually replace the iconic and ironically-named Long Life Vehicles, some of which have been on the road for more than 30 years. That order will include 50,000 vehicles for a total cost of $2.98 billion. But it will also include 10,019 battery electric vehicles, more than doubling the USPS’s EV order from previous announcements.

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“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 as we undertake our ongoing implementation of the Delivering for America plan,” Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said in the press release. “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.”

The announcement comes as the USPS faced continuing scrutiny over the new vehicle order for having so few electric vehicles. The contract allowed the USPS to order anywhere from 50,000 to 165,000 vehicles over the course of the next decade. Initially, the USPS said only about 10 percent of those vehicles would be electric, or 5,000 vehicles out of the initial 50,000. 

If it feels like the USPS has announced this order several times already, you’re not wrong. First, in February 2021, it announced it awarded the contract to Oshkosh Defense to build the factory to build the vehicles. Then it revealed more details about the vehicles through the environmental review process. And now it has announced the actual purchasing of 50,000 vehicles. 

Upping that percentage of EVs for the first batch of orders signals the USPS might be changing its attitude towards the viability of EVs for its delivery fleet. Or it might not. Since the USPS first announced the new vehicle order, Congress has passed a bill that will shore up the USPS’s finances, a prerequisite DeJoy has long cited for the USPS to buy more EVs, even though experts agree EVs will save the USPS money in the long run. And if the USPS ends up ordering the full 165,000 vehicles the contract allows, it would still need to order about 6,500 more to meet the 10 percent threshold DeJoy initially committed to.

Still, the USPS decided of its own volition—with plenty of external pressure, of course—to order more EVs. Its order of 10,019 EVs is also a large one by contemporary standards. Few manufacturers can deliver that many EV trucks in a single order due to a lack of mass manufacturing experience with EV trucks and supply chain crunches. To find out how much of the USPS fleet is really going to go electric, we’ll probably have to wait for the big order after this one to find out how the USPS really feels about electric trucks.