Postal Service increases EV commitment to 40% of new delivery trucks

Riley Beggin
The Detroit News

Washington — The U.S. Postal Service plans to make at least 40% of all new delivery vehicles battery electric, including at least 50% of the trucks purchased from Oshkosh Corp. 

The move marks an increase from its previous plan to make only 20% of its new vehicles electric as part of a $2.98 billion effort to begin replacing its 30-year-old fleet. 

The United States Postal Service chose Oshkosh Defense to build its next-generation mail-delivery vehicle.

In addition to the 50,000 new vehicles purchased from Oshkosh, the Postal Service plans to buy 34,500 "off-the-shelf" vehicles over the next two years "because of the critical and immediate need to accelerate the replacement of our aging fleet," according to an agency press release. 

Combined, at least 40% of new vehicles from the two sources will be electric, USPS said. The agency plans to buy up to 165,000 vehicles worth $6 billion total over the next decade.

The Postal Service will continue to evaluate buying new vehicles as technology improves and market conditions change, the agency said in a press release, "including the expected increased availability of BEV options in the future."

The agency's original plan finalized in February 2021 awarded an initial $482 million to Oshkosh. At the time, only 10% of the vehicles under the contract would be required to be battery electric, while the remaining 90% could be gas-powered. It updated the initial purchase in March from 5,000 electric trucks to 10,019. 

That plan faced fierce opposition from the Biden administration, which is pushing for the federal government's fleet to be all zero-emission vehicles by 2035. Biden doesn't have direct control over the USPS, but Postal Service vehicles make up around a third of all of the vehicles in the federal fleet. 

The Environmental Protection Agency asked USPS to halt the contract and conduct a new analysis, but the agency refused and insisted more funds would be needed to increase the number of EVs in the fleet. 

Then in April, 16 states, including Michigan, sued the agency to stop its purchase, arguing it used faulty information to justify buying mostly gas-powered trucks that are only marginally more fuel efficient than the existing trucks that are decades old. 

Multiple groups that had been pushing the Postal Service to increase its EV purchase lauded the move Wednesday and urged the agency to further increase the number of EVs in its new fleet. 

"The U.S. Postal Service finally got the message that cleaner vehicles are a win all around," said Britt Carmon, a clean vehicles advocate at the Natural Resources Defense Council., which also joined the United Auto Workers in suing over the plan in April. 

"This change pushes the envelope in the right direction, but it’s also not nearly enough. To save money and protect our health, the Postal Service should go much further and electrify most of its fleet."

Transportation is the biggest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.

Twitter: @rbeggin