In July 2022, the U.S. Postal Service announced a revision to its Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for its Next Generation Delivery Vehicles (NGDVs) in which 50% of its newly purchased NGDVs will be electric vehicles. The Postal Service says that this change will reflect route optimization, network refinements and financial improvements to its delivery vehicle requirement strategy.
In total, USPS anticipates a purchase of 50,000 NGDVs from Oshkosh Defense and 34,000 commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) vehicles, with at least 40% of these vehicles being EVs.
This announcement is good news for electrical contractors, as it may mean opportunities to install EV charging infrastructure at post offices and other USPS facilities.
The new numbers reflect a change in pace by the Postal Service. In its initial plan, announced back in February, USPS planned to obtain 165,000 NGDVs, with only 10% of the purchase being EVs. Although USPS says the original plan fulfilled its obligations under the National Environmental Policy Act, which requires federal entities to consider their impact on the environment, the agency faced backlash for the decision to generate a fleet in which 90% of vehicles run on fossil fuels.
Sixteen states, including Illinois and California, filed lawsuits against USPS in April, intending to halt the purchase, claiming the influx of gas-powered delivery vehicles would cause environmental distress and that USPS broke the law by signing the contract before conducting an environmental review. Additionally, several environmental organizations filed their own lawsuits.
USPS says that the initial purchase numbers were decided on with the flexibility to increase the number of vehicles if financially feasible. This led to a March announcement that upped the number of NGDVs to 50,000, including 20% EVs, and after further consideration it is sticking to those 50,000 that have already been purchased.
This decision is meant to modernize the current postal fleet composed of delivery trucks that started service as early as 1987 and were only designed to last 24 years. Going forward, USPS says it will complete evaluations over shorter time spans to be more responsive to technological advancements and its evolving operational strategy.
According to a March 2022 white paper from the USPS Office of the Inspector General, some benefits to incorporating more EVs into the fleet include improved sustainability measures, increased reliability and lower energy costs. It also cautions that some locations could face issues due to longer routes and cold weather. There is also the challenge of keeping the trucks properly charged when infrastructure is not readily available in many areas.
The replacement NGDVs are expected to be deployed along postal route in late 2023.