USPS commits to 75% electric vehicles in next-gen fleet with nearly $10B spending plan

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The Postal Service is expanding plans for electric delivery vehicles in its future fleet, a strategy that puts the agency ahead of the Biden administration’s net-zero emissions goals across the federal government.

USPS plans to purchase 66,000 electric vehicles over the next five years, as part of a nearly $10 billion spending plan. In total, the agency...

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Best listening experience is on Chrome, Firefox or Safari. Subscribe to Federal Drive’s daily audio interviews on Apple Podcasts or PodcastOne.

The Postal Service is expanding plans for electric delivery vehicles in its future fleet, a strategy that puts the agency ahead of the Biden administration’s net-zero emissions goals across the federal government.

USPS plans to purchase 66,000 electric vehicles over the next five years, as part of a nearly $10 billion spending plan. In total, the agency expects to purchase 100,000 electric and gas-powered delivery vehicles through 2028.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said Tuesday that USPS will “continue to explore the financial and operational feasibility of achieving 100% electrification for the overall Postal Service delivery fleet.”

“As I have said from the beginning of this journey, the Postal Service needed to replace a 30-year-old fleet of unsafe vehicles, which was specifically designed to do our unique work. The tremendous initiative we are now announcing today is directionally where we anticipated landing all along,” DeJoy said at a press conference outside USPS headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The new USPS plan has the support of the White House, which pressed the agency for a larger commitment to electric vehicles for much of this year.

The White House, in a fact sheet, said USPS under its new strategy “will exceed President Biden’s requirement for each agency to electrify its federal fleet.”

Brenda Mallory, chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said USPS is “walking the walk on our climate and sustainability goals.”

“The Postal Service is cementing itself as a leader in accelerating the expansion of electric vehicles across the United States and proving that it can continue delivering its trusted services in a cleaner, more effective way,” Mallory said.

John Podesta, senior advisor to the president for clean energy innovation and implementation, said USPS is leading the charge for electric vehicles in the federal government with “one of the most recognizable vehicles in our nation.”

“It’s wonderful that the Postal Service will be at the forefront of the switch to clean electric vehicles, with postal workers as their ambassadors. It’s about showing every community what the future of transportation looks like,” Podesta said.

USPS has the second-highest carbon footprint of any federal agency, driven almost entirely by its fleet of vehicles.

“Converting to clean electric vehicles is an essential part of making the federal government making sure that the federal government is walking the walk on climate and a big demand signal to the rest of the transportation sector to go electric,” Podesta said.

USPS expects to purchase 45,000 EVs by 2028 through its Next-Generation Delivery Vehicle contract with Oshkosh Defense. The agency will also purchase 15,000 gas-powered NGDVs from Oshkosh Defense.

This latest plan means at least 75% of the USPS next-generation delivery vehicle fleet will be electric in the next five years, and will purchase 100% electric NGDVs starting in 2026. That plan puts USPS well ahead of the Biden administration’s green government goals.

President Joe Biden signed an executive order last year requiring all federal agencies to purchase 100% zero-emission vehicles by 2035, and purchase only zero-emission light-duty vehicles starting in 2027.

DeJoy told reporters that USPS plans to purchase an additional 21,000 commercial “off-the-shelf” electric vehicles over the next five years to keep providing its workforce with the most efficient electric vehicles as the technology improves.

“We think the market — and we always thought — the market is going to evolve a lot. That’s why we’re looking at the commercial off-the-shelf vehicles that we can deploy. But make no mistake, the purpose-built vehicle for us, the NGDV, is very, very important,” he said.

The plan to acquire 100,000 new vehicles gets USPS halfway to replacing its aging fleet of 200,000 vehicles “that are best suited for museums, rather than for our hard-working carriers,” DeJoy said.

DeJoy said a largely electric USPS fleet, combined with its upcoming delivery network modernization plan, means USPS will “lead the nation in the reduction of our carbon footprint.”

USPS received $3 billion in the Inflation Reduction Act to buy more electric vehicles and acquire more charging infrastructure than it could on its own. USPS, which is largely self-funded through its own revenue, is putting up the remaining $6.6 billion for the capital investment.

DeJoy said the latest USPS electric vehicle plan is the product of extensive collaboration with the White House.

“As long as people are interested in solving the problems, we could find a way forward with me. That’s all I’m here to do,” DeJoy said. “Look, John [Podesta] is a very focused, executive type, and I understood the direction where he wanted to go. And I’m a focused executive type, and he understood what my issues were, and teams around us were very collaborative.”

USPS officials repeatedly told lawmakers this year the agency would need congressional funding to ensure it would have the charging infrastructure needed to support a major influx of electric vehicles.

DeJoy said that will the Inflation Reduction Act funding USPS will be able to get the charging infrastructure in place at as many as 500 facilities.

“It really mitigates the risk and puts a purposeful plan out there. You know what it’s like to accept 20,000 electric vehicles into a system a year? You’ve got to be rolling. I want it to be built out a year ahead of time, and it’s not my capital sitting out there, [when] I have so many other imminent needs,” he told reporters

The Inflation Reduction Act funding, combined with the passage of major postal reform legislation this spring meant USPS was in a better position to “move forward with more favorable plans that everyone can rally around,” DeJoy said.

“The way that thing was structured, and the way we went back and used it, and worked with John Podesta and the White House team [was] to say, ‘Look, this is what could be acceptable, doable for us. Let us build out the infrastructure, and then we’ll barter on how much we put in vehicles, how much up it goes, and so forth,’” DeJoy told reporters.

USPS has committed to buying more electric vehicles several times since awarding its next-generation delivery vehicle contract to Oshkosh Defense in February 2022.

DeJoy told Congress after the contract award that USPS expected electric vehicles would make up at least 10% of the next-generation fleet, and that the agency would buy more electric delivery vehicles if the agency could afford them.

USPS about a month later doubled its order for electric vehicles in the first purchase order made to Oshkosh Defense. The agency said it would purchase 10,000 electric next-gen vehicles or 20% of its initial 50,000 NGDV order.

This July, USPS said half its next-generation fleet order would be electric vehicles. It also committed to buying 34,500 commercial off-the-shelf electric vehicles.

House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) told Federal News Network that the latest USPS electric vehicle plan will help support the broader adoption of electric vehicles across the country.

“Mr. DeJoy has implemented it, and made it happen. It’s been a bit of a long road from 5,000 [electric vehicles] to leading the world in clean energy … This is a real change for the environment, it’s a change for the private sector to live up to what the public sector is doing to save the planet and have a 21st-century fleet. It’s a win-win-win in every way,” Maloney said.

Maloney said USPS could also bring in additional revenue by opening up its charging infrastructure, especially at rural post offices, to the public when not in use with its own fleet.

“If we could lead states in working with turning our rural post offices into charging stations, you can charge the fleet during the night, and in the daytime, open it up to the public. The infrastructure is already there,” Maloney said

It remains unclear what the new USPS plans will mean for three ongoing lawsuits filed this spring, when the agency was pursuing a majority gas-powered fleet.

“I would hope that the people that have sued us, because they felt we were disregarding the environment, I hope they see that, first of all, it was never the case, never the intention, and that we’re on the right path with the that. And I hope they celebrate our decision just like the White House team,” DeJoy said.

The first next-generation delivery vehicles are expected to arrive on delivery routes in late 2023.

As for what happens with the old trucks, DeJoy said some decommissioned USPS Long Life Vehicles will be shipped to museums, but it remains unclear if there’s a market for selling them off.

“Wanna buy one? I’m postmaster general, I can give you a good discount … Some of the board members think we should sell them. People will buy them,” DeJoy said.

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