US Postal Service unveils its first electric delivery vehicles and charging stations

What a long, strange trip it’s been. After deliberating about a long-overdue modernization of its vehicle fleet for nearly a decade, the US Postal Service (USPS) spent a couple more years trying to avoid complying with President Biden’s 2021 directive to electrify the federal vehicle fleet (of which USPS’s delivery fleet is the largest part). The agency’s journey to electrification involved lawsuits, congressional resolutions, much political maneuvering and more than a little conspiracy-mongering. The struggle may not be over, but as it stands now, USPS “anticipates” adding some 66,000 battery-electric vehicles to its delivery fleet by 2028.

At a dignitary-drenched ribbon-cutter at the agency’s South Atlanta Sorting and Delivery Center, USPS unveiled the first of its new EVs and charging stations. Deployment of electric delivery trucks will start in Georgia and then expand to other locations across the country throughout the year.

At the event, USPS showcased Ford E-Transit electric vans, referred to in postal-speak as commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) delivery vehicles. USPS plans on procuring a total of 21,000 COTS EVs, including 9,250 from Ford, “depending on market availability and operational feasibility.” The Service also plans to add at least 45,000 custom-designed EVs, dubbed Next Generation Delivery Vehicles (NGDVs) by 2028, bringing the total number of EVs in the delivery fleet to more than 66,000.

The Ford E-Transits have nearly three times the cargo capacity of the ancient Grumman LLV delivery vehicles currently in use. Drivers will probably be even happier about their modern features such as air conditioning and advanced safety technology.

Along with the e-vans, USPS displayed some Level 2 charging stations from Siemens, which will be used to charge Postal Service EVs overnight. The Service’s first 14,000 EV chargers will be manufactured by three suppliers: Siemens, Rexel/ChargePoint and Blink. They will be installed at hundreds of new Sorting and Delivery Centers (S&DCs) across the country throughout the year. As of January 2024, the Postal Service has opened 29 S&DCs nationwide.

Along USPS’s long and reluctant road to electrification, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has often been cast as the villain of the piece. A staunch Trump supporter, DeJoy was accused of trying to sabotage mail-in voting for political reasons during the 2020 election. Later he was suspected of slow-walking USPS’s electrification project. (DeJoy has contended that his reservations about EVs had to do with a lack of adequate funding.) Now, by all accounts, he’s on board with electrification, and he even managed some kind words for the President at the ribbon-cutting.

“As we transform our operating processes and invest in new automation, new technologies, and upgraded facilities and vehicles, we will generate significant efficiencies that reduce our costs, slash our carbon footprint and minimize waste,” said DeJoy. “We are grateful for the support of Congress and the Biden Administration through Inflation Reduction Act funding, which helped enable the electrification in evidence here today.”

Source: US Postal Service

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