No more justifications from the US Postal Service, more electric vehicles

Just a few months ago, the USPS announced that, with the exception of a handful, all of its 165,000 new delivery trucks will be powered by gasoline, setting off a furor among supporters of electric cars. The situation has changed, in part because of a $3 billion fund set up for an EV shopping spree in the new climate plan, assuming it passes Congress.

POST MOVEMENT ON ELECTRIC VEHICLES To be clear, the Postal Service has waited far too long to upgrade its delivery trucks. On the grounds that government-owned delivery vehicles ought to survive for a very long time, the existing fleet was acquired a very long time ago.

Tens of thousands of Postal Service drivers must deal with loud, polluting, uncomfortable, obsolete, and allegedly risky delivery trucks as a result, on top of having to deal with snow, rain, heat, and darkness throughout their daily rounds. Given how long the relationship has lasted, silver would be a suitable gift, if not pearls.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy last year gave the well-known defense contractor Oshkosh Defense a $6 billion contract for the new, so-called Next Generation Delivery Vehicles on the grounds that a speedy switchover is necessary before someone is wounded. Only 10% of the new vehicles must be electric, according to the contract.

Critics claimed that Oshkosh lacked experience with electric vehicles, among other things, but it wasn’t true. The company does have experience with zero emission mobility, which includes fire trucks and other specialty vehicles. In addition, Oshkosh designed the new delivery truck to support electric driving if the Postal Service decided to do so, whether as a brand-new vehicle or a retrofit.

FROM 10% TO AT LEAST 50% ELECTRIC VEHICLES It appears that the critics’ relentless hounding was fruitful. The opposition to the contract was vocal, persistent, and included a lawsuit brought by the attorneys general of 16 states over issues with the Postal Service’s environmental impact review.

USPS made a slight concession earlier this year and announced that 20% of its initial $2.98 billion order of 50,000 delivery trucks would be electric cars.

As our financial situation improves and as we strengthen our network and vehicle operating strategy, The Postal Service makes good on our commitment to accelerate our electric vehicle plan by expanding the number of battery electric vehicles (BEVs), they stated.

Although it was a step in the right direction, the commotion was not reduced. The percentage suddenly increased to at least 50% of electric automobiles as of last week.

They added that the Postal Service announced a revision in the Next Generation Delivery Vehicles (NGDVs) the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) scope to better reflect network enhancements, route optimization, and financial gains that will support a shorter delivery vehicle procurement strategy interval.

They also hinted that the 50% percentage would increase quickly.

According to the Postal Service, as technology advances and the organization’s financial and operational situation gets better, it pledges to evaluating vehicle mix and buying capacity more frequently.

In fact, the Postal Service is so eager to electrify its fleet right now that it changed the original order to include 34,500 off-the-shelf trucks in addition to the custom models from Oshkosh.

WHAT ABOUT USPS USING 100% ELECTRIC VEHICLES? Last week was that. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) made an unexpected agreement on the new climate measure public on Wednesday night of this week. A $3 billion carve-out for the Postal Service to buy more electric cars is one of the provisions.

The plan, which was launched last fall and was given the name Build Back Better, was supported by all but one Democratic senator, Manchin, so the announcement came as quite a shock.

In fact, Manchin practically proclaimed that Build Back Better was dead just last week. He also wasn’t joking. He obviously meant that the bill itself was not dead, just the label Build Back Better.

The bipartisan name of the agreed-upon climate bill, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, , has a great ring to it, but good luck convincing any Republican Senators to support it. To approve the law, the Democrats will need to mobilize all 50 of their Senators, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the final vote to make it a 51-50 decision.

THE EV SHOPPING SPREE IS HERE In order to establish a reliable market for green products, the new climate law allocates more than $9 billion for Federal agencies to purchase clean technologies developed in the United States. Although the statute specifically identify $3 billion for new zero-emission vehicles for the Postal Service, this may signify almost anything.

How rapidly the Postal Service can speed up the timeframe for adding more electric cars is the key question. In addition to UPS and FedEx, private sector corporations like Walmart, Amazon, and others are already acquiring electric vans and other delivery vehicles at a rapid rate. The Postal Service will need to contribute in some way.

It appears that the authors of the new climate bill had considered that. Production tax credits are one of the laws that aim to increase the supply of batteries and other essential materials for electric vehicles and other clean technology. It is anticipated that the tax credit will lead to $30 billion in new investments. A $500 million pie that falls under the Defense Production Act also includes critical items.

The plan also allots $10 billion in investment tax credits for the construction of clean technology manufacturing facilities, such as those that produce solar panels, wind turbines, and electric car batteries.

A further $2 billion in incentives is targeted more particularly towards zero-emission transportation. The funds will be used to upgrade current auto facilities to produce eco-friendly cars, keeping jobs in towns that depend on the industry local.

The potential for helping Rust Belt states retain unionized manufacturing employment that would otherwise migrate to right-to-work jurisdictions in the South makes that incentive program particularly intriguing.

It’s also interesting to note the mention of clean automobiles. Compressed natural gas, in our estimation, is no longer an option, but biofuels are still a possibility. Hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles, whether freestanding or in hybrid variants that mix batteries and fuel cells, may also find some home in the carveout.

Please leave a comment in the comment section if you have any thoughts about that.
@TinaMCasey , follow me on Twitter.
Image: The US Postal Service plans to purchase more electric cars (courtesy of Oshkosh Defense ).

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