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Postal Service bumps up EV mix in delivery fleet order

Electric vehicles to account for half of 50,000-unit order with Oshkosh

The U.S. Postal Service said Wednesday it will order 25,000 electric vehicles as part of its initial 50,000-unit purchase of new delivery trucks, a move that more than doubles the number of EVs it had planned to order.

The Postal Service also said that it will supplement the 50,000-unit order by acquiring 34,000 commercial off-the-shelf vehicles. The Postal Service did not specify in its announcement the suppliers of the vehicles being purchased off-the-shelf. About 40% of the combined 84,000 vehicles to be delivered within the next 10 years will be battery-powered, the Postal Service said.

The Postal Service had capped its EV order at 10,019 vehicles, or 20% of the mix, in the initial agreement with manufacturer Oshkosh Defense Corp., a unit of Oshkosh Truck Corp. (NYSE: OSK). However, the agency said last month that a sweeping revamp of its delivery network would yield the operational efficiencies needed to justify additional EV purchases. As part of the revamp, the Postal Service said it would consolidate the number of facilities that support carrier operations, a move that would reduce the number of buildings where battery-charging installations would be needed.

Environmental groups have been pressuring the Postal Service to bump up the mix of electric vehicles. It had said financial considerations would be a key factor in making additional EV investments. However, agency watchers said it has sufficient capital to fund EV purchases.

Paul F. Steidler, who follows the Postal Service for the Lexington Institute, a think tank, said the agency has $23.5 billion of cash on hand and received about $100 billion in taxpayer assistance from the recently enacted postal reform law. The Postal Service also stood to receive about $6 billion from the White House’s “Build Back Better” plan to fund purchases of electric trucks and invest in battery-charging infrastructure, Steidler noted.

The White House plan is on life support in Congress after Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said he would reject virtually all of the provisions included in it.

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Mark Solomon

Formerly the Executive Editor at DC Velocity, Mark Solomon joined FreightWaves as Managing Editor of Freight Markets. Solomon began his journalistic career in 1982 at Traffic World magazine, ran his own public relations firm (Media Based Solutions) from 1994 to 2008, and has been at DC Velocity since then. Over the course of his career, Solomon has covered nearly the whole gamut of the transportation and logistics industry, including trucking, railroads, maritime, 3PLs, and regulatory issues. Solomon witnessed and narrated the rise of Amazon and XPO Logistics and the shift of the U.S. Postal Service from a mail-focused service to parcel, as well as the exponential, e-commerce-driven growth of warehouse square footage and omnichannel fulfillment.