Editor's note: This article originally appeared in IndustryWeek, a publication of Endeavor Business Media.
by Ryan Secard
The United States Postal Service announced Tues., Dec. 20, that it would acquire an even greater share of electric delivery vans than previously announced, thanks in part to a new injection of cash from the Inflation Reduction Act passed this summer. The latest on the fleet replacement effort significantly increases the portion of electric Oshkosh Defense trucks in the order and aims at phasing out new acquisitions of internal-combustion Oshkosh trucks by 2026.
The latest update indicates the Postal Service now plans to buy a total of 106,000 vehicles, including at least 66,000 electric vehicles, made by Oshkosh Defense and other retailers. According to the USPS, the push to electrify the mail recently received a significant boost from $3 billion in earmarked funding from the Inflation Reduction Act.
By procurement, the USPS now says it will buy at least 60,000 Next Generation Delivery Vehicles, or NGDVs, from Oshkosh Defense. Of those 60,000 NGDVs, at least 45,000 will be solely powered by batteries: the remaining 25 percent of the Oshkosh delivery vans will be gas-powered. To augment the vehicles from Oshkosh, the Postal Service also says it will buy commercially available vehicles from other automakers. Depending on availability and operational feasibility, the USPS will aim for about 21,000 of those commercial vehicles to be battery electric vehicles, with domestic manufacturers receiving priority.
New Oshkosh vans will be only EV after 2026
In addition to the larger planned proportion of electric NGDVs, the new announcement includes a plan to phase out internal combustion-powered Oshkosh vans. While the 106,000 trucks are expected to be delivered between now and 2028, the Postal Service says it expects to receive only 100-percent electric vehicles from Oshkosh after 2026.
Initial plans for the NGDV initiative released in February 2022 called for the USPS to purchase 165,000 vehicles, with just a 10 percent share of electric vehicles. After complaints from environmental groups, 16 states, and Washington D.C., the USPS announced a new round of purchases in March— 50,000 more trucks, of which 50 percent would be electric—and, in July, said it would buy enough new electric trucks to bring the total percentage of electric trucks in the fleet to 40 percent, including the vehicles from the original purchase agreement. The latest announcement brings the total of electric trucks in the Oshkosh portion of the fleet expansion to 75 percent, a significant increase.
In a statement, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy noted that delivering mail to 163 million addresses was his priority, but that new Congressional funding had made electrifying the fleet more achievable. “The $3 billion provided by Congress has significantly reduced the risk associated with accelerating the implementation of a nationwide infrastructure necessary to electrify our delivery fleet,” DeJoy said.
He added that the USPS is also currently working to improve the efficiency of its distribution, and that both the new routes and the new trucks will reduce the Service’s environmental footprint.