The US Postal Service will purchase 9,250 off-the-shelf Ford E-Transits in its push to move towards electric delivery vehicles, with deliveries beginning at the end of this year.
USPS has recently been flirting with electrification as it plans to replace its 30+ year-old fleet of Grumman LLVs. The bidding process took several years, and originally the contract was offered to Oshkosh, a defense contractor, with a commitment to purchase a measly 10% electric vehicles. The other 90% would be gas-guzzling trucks which get as little as 8.6mpg, about the same as the original Grumman LLVs.
The decision was met with much backlash, with lawsuits from several organizations and was questioned by Congress. Over time, this pressure caused USPS to gradually increase the intended electric percentage.
Then the Inflation Reduction Act was passed, with $3 billion in funding specifically for USPS electrification. As of December 2022, the plan stands at buying 100% electric trucks by 2026, and 75% from now until then.
But beyond the planned electric mix, there was also the question of which vehicles would be purchased. Several bids were for purpose-built vehicles, but after Oshkosh’s bid was accepted, more questions arose over whether purpose-built vehicles from a single manufacturer would allow the USPS to scale implementation quickly enough.
Many thought that it would be reasonable to include off-the-shelf delivery vehicles in the mix, such that USPS wouldn’t be reliant on a single manufacturer, and could purchase trucks that are already in production. So, as part of USPS’ December plan, it announced it would purchase 21,000 “commercial off-the-shelf” electric vehicles to help accelerate electrification plans.
Today’s announcement is the first of those contracts, which has been won by Ford. The 9,250 vehicles supplied by Ford will be part of the announced 21,000 off-the-shelf purchased by USPS.
In addition, USPS announced today that it will purchase 14,000 EV charging stations to be installed at its locations to charge future electric trucks.
The USPS is the federal government’s largest fleet, consisting of about 225,000 vehicles, which President Biden promised to electrify just days after becoming president.
Despite our initial disappointment with USPS’ first steps in their electrification announcement, it feels like we’ve finally gotten to the correct endpoint.
While not every delivery truck will be electric – there will still be perhaps 10-20% of the fleet running on gas, once all these purchases shake out over the course of the next several years – the USPS will be electric-first and that’s just what we need. Postal workers won’t have to deal with stinky shaky old vehicles and all of us will get better air in our communities and less climate emissions.
It’s understandable that a few trucks may remain on gas, those with difficult routes or where electrification isn’t quite financially viable due to exceptional circumstances. But considering Svalbard Post has figured out how to go all-electric within the Arctic Circle, we think those use cases will be vanishingly few.
So today’s announcement is a big step forward for USPS, a big win for Ford, and a big win for all of us.