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Today’s Pickup: USPS deploys Motiv-powered all-electric vans

The United States Postal Service is deploying seven all-electric step vans in California, powered by Motiv’s EPIC system. ( Photo: Motiv Power Systems )

Good day,

It started with electric and now it is going back – if only in small steps. The United States Postal Service (USPS) has taken delivery of seven medium-duty, all-electric Ford E-450 step vans for operations in California’s Central Valley.

The electric chassis is provided by Motiv Power Systems, using its Electric Powered Intelligent Chassis (EPIC) all-electric chassis. The first vehicle is now servicing routes in Fresno, California, with the balance of the vehicles to be deployed in Fresno and Stockton as part of a year-long program. Most of the immediate project benefits will accrue in the San Joaquin Valley, an economically disadvantaged area with some of the highest pollution burdens in the country, as evidenced by CalEnviroScreen scores within the worst five percent in the state, Motiv said.

“We’re proud to now be a part of USPS’ long tradition of implementing the latest technology to green their fleet,” said Motiv CEO Jim Castelaz. “Our all-electric EPIC chassis have accumulated 500,000 real-world miles and are ideally suited to the USPS vehicle route characteristics. We’re thrilled that USPS has chosen Motiv to help meet their sustainability goals.”

The vehicles are part of a joint partnership with CALSTART and the San Joaquin Clean Transportation Center and funded through a California Air Resources Board (CARB) award to the San Joaquin Air Quality Control.

USPS first tested an electric vehicle for mail collection in Buffalo, New York, on July 2, 1899. It currently operates 30 electric two-ton vehicles in New York City and a pair of two-ton hybrid vehicles on Long Island.

The USPS’ acquisition of the vans was made possible by California Climate Investments, a statewide program that puts billions of cap-and-trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Founded in 2009, San Francisco, California-based Motiv’s EPIC chassis is available for many vehicle configurations, including step vans, box trucks, work trucks, shuttle buses, school buses, trolleys, and other specialty vehicles.

Did you know?

At the recent Heavy Duty Aftermarket Dialogue in Las Vegas, Jon Morrison, president of the Americas for Wabco, said that advanced driver assistance systems are now included on 50 percent to 60 percent of all new Class 8 trucks.  


“When technology reaches a certain point of maturity, it becomes available to the [masses] and technology develops rapidly… we saw this with drones, robots and mobile phones. The satellites are just a tool, and since the tool has become so much cheaper it has allowed us to expand the scope of services.”

– Juha-Matti Liukkonen, director of space and new technologies for Reaktor, a satellite consultancy, on why nano satellites could transform logistics communications

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Polar Vortex takes toll on crude by rail

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Pennsylvania sets sights on vehicle ice and snow law

A Pennsylvania state senator is hoping the state will join other northeastern states and impose fines on vehicles that do not clear snow or ice off their vehicles – including trucks. (Herald-Standard)

Going to the dogs

TSA officials have cleared a group called the Cargo Screening K9 Alliance to begin using dogs to screen air cargo at locations throughout the country. (Air Cargo World)

Final Thoughts

Tesla’s planned acquisition for Maxwell Technologies could have an impact on the trucking industry. Maxwell has supplied over 7,000 trucks in the industry with Engine Start Modules (ESM), which provide additional power to start trucks – even in temperatures down to minus-40 below F. ESMs offer isolated lauxiliary power that is dedicated just to starting the truck, allowing drivers to run in-cab comfort items without fear of the truck not starting the next morning due to drained batteries. Tesla is interested in Maxwell’s battery expertise, which includes a variety of additional, non-trucking products. The question is, would Tesla allow that battery expertise to help others or will the company want it for itself?

 Hammer down everyone!

Brian Straight

Brian Straight leads FreightWaves' Modern Shipper brand as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler. You can reach him at [email protected]