Postal service

Postal service: here is the price of 100% electric vehicles

The U.S. Postal Service, which has been criticized for plans to buy tens of thousands of gas delivery trucks, estimates it could actually go all-electric if Congress grants it at least $ 3.3 billion .

This is one of the conclusions of a final environmental impact statement that the semi-independent agency released on Friday.

The problem is the next-generation delivery vehicle, a truck the service plans to begin using within the next decade. Meanwhile, USPS plans to replace up to 165,000 trucks in its fleet of 212,000 people. One of the world’s largest civilian fleets is falling apart, with most of the trucks in service before Bill Clinton became president.

At the start of last year, the USPS set a goal of running almost all vehicles on gasoline, 10% of which are reserved for electricity. In August, the Postal Service said electric versions of the new postal trucks would have higher costs and were “impractical and impractical” for the service’s longer routes (Energy wire, August 27, 2021).

The plan angered some Congressional Democrats who said it flies in the face of President Biden’s goal of converting the federal fleet to electric, thereby stimulating the electric vehicle market and helping to reverse the trend of climate change. In December, Biden issued an executive order asking the U.S. government to purchase only electric vehicles by 2035.

The new USPS document, in essence, defended the service’s decision while asserting that the goal of electrification is within reach if Congress gives the USPS much more money.

“The proposed action is the most feasible given the financial condition of the Postal Service,” the USPS said in the statement. The service has suffered losses of more than $ 87 billion since 2007, according to the Government Accountability Office, as the volume of mail it delivers has declined.

The agency estimated that it could electrify 75,000 of its vehicles for $ 2.3 billion. He added that the entire fleet could be electrified at an additional expense of over $ 1 billion. The USPS appeared to favor the possibility, saying it “is seeking additional funds to increase this amount.”

The Democrats’ “Build Back Better Act”, which faces an uncertain fate in Congress, could go a long way in providing these funds. The version of the bill passed in the House in November called for $ 2.5 billion for the USPS to purchase electric vehicles and an additional $ 3.4 billion for charging infrastructure in postal buildings. The scope of the bill diminishes as it is negotiated in the Senate.

The EIS compared the climate impact of its preferred plan to 10% compared to an all-electric fleet. A future courier fleet made up of just 10% electric vehicles would reduce direct annual exhaust CO2 emissions by nearly 257,000 metric tonnes. Going all-electric would more than double that, to 537,000 metric tonnes.

Patricio Portillo, transportation analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said it was difficult to assess the demand for USPS dollars because the new analysis offered little supporting data.

He called it “We’re just going to wave our hands and say it’s really expensive.” “It doesn’t look like they’ve done their homework,” he said.

An August study by Atlas Public Policy estimated that 97% of USPS vehicles could be electrified at a lower total cost of ownership than comparable gasoline or diesel trucks by 2025.

The USPS environmental study came to the opposite conclusion, saying that an EV mail truck “has a significantly higher total cost of ownership” than an internal combustion truck.

One of the main costs noted was the construction of a charging infrastructure in some of its more than 17,000 locations. Problems include urban sites, such as mail offices in linear shopping malls that don’t have a lot of parking space, and rural areas, where the robust power lines needed to charge vehicles may not exist. In many situations, the local electrical infrastructure, such as transformers, would need to be upgraded.

Portillo pointed out that the EIS offered few details on one of the main potential cost savings of an electric vehicle: maintenance. Compared to internal combustion engine vehicles, electric vehicles are simpler machines that have fewer parts to break or replace. The analysis only indicated that electric vehicles would cost less because they “require less lubricants, oils and greases.”

The postal agency’s truck replacement campaign comes as the nation’s leading door-to-door delivery companies switch to electric vehicles. Inc. has partnered with Rivian Automotive Inc. and Stellantis NV to build tens of thousands of electric delivery trucks. As recently as last week, Walmart Inc. announced that it would partner with General Motors Co., through its electric subsidiary BrightDrop, to deliver its goods.

The USPS awarded the contract for its next-generation delivery vehicle to Oshkosh Defense, which announced in June that it would build a dedicated plant in South Carolina. The company has no experience in building electric vehicles.