In the latest episode of the soap opera As The Postal Service Turns (a tawdry tale that has been covered extensively in this space), the US Postal Service has doubled the number of EVs it will include in its first order for Next Generation Delivery Vehicles (NGDVs). The initial $2.98-billion order with Oshkosh Defense is for 50,000 vehicles, of which 10,019 will be battery-electric vehicles.
The agency says it has identified 10,019 specific delivery routes that present the best applications for EVs. It expects the NGDVs to begin appearing on carrier routes “in late 2023.”
“We have determined that increasing our initial electric vehicle purchase from 5,000 to 10,019 makes good sense from an operational and financial perspective,” said Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. “Today’s order demonstrates, as we have said all along, that the Postal Service is fully committed to the inclusion of electric vehicles as a significant part of our delivery fleet even though the investment will cost more than an internal combustion engine vehicle. That said, as we have also stated repeatedly, we must make fiscally prudent decisions in the needed introduction of a new vehicle fleet. We will continue to look for opportunities to increase the electrification of our delivery fleet in a responsible manner, consistent with our operating strategy, the deployment of appropriate infrastructure, and our financial condition, which we expect to continue to improve as we pursue our plan.”
Originally, the postal service said it would buy 165,000 NGDVs, only 10 percent of which would be EVs. President Biden has called for the postal service, which presents an ideal use case for EVs, to fully electrify, but DeJoy, an appointee and ardent supporter of Trump, has refused to do so, and for arcane administrative reasons, Biden and the Democrats can’t or won’t remove him. DeJoy has presented the decision not to electrify as a financial one—the USPS has lost more than $90 billion since 2007. Congress recently approved a $50-billion rescue package.
“The flexibility in the NGDV program allows for future increases in the mix of BEVs should additional funding become available from internal or other sources, and if the use case for BEVs continues to improve,” says the agency.
It remains to be seen whether the agency will follow through and continue to buy more EVs—it would need to purchase 6,500 more in future rounds in order to meet its original 10-percent goal. The Verge points out that it’s not clear whether Oshkosh, a defense contractor that has never built an EV, can meet the demand at a time when all vehicle-makers are struggling with shortage of semiconductors and other necessary components.