In February, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced his plan to buy a badly needed new United States Postal Service delivery fleet. There was just one problem: Ninety percent of the trucks would be gas-powered, with fuel efficiency ratings less than half a mile per gallon better than those of the existing fleet.
Environmental groups sued. Lawmakers tried to step in. And then, earlier this week, the USPS announced a breakthrough: The agency said that 40 percent of its new fleet would be electric. That’s a smaller proportion of electric mail trucks than environmentalists wanted—a House bill called for 75 percent—but it’s more than double what anyone expected under DeJoy’s plan.
In March, the USPS said that its initial procurement of 50,000 trucks from manufacturer Oshkosh Defense would include 10,019 battery electric vehicles. Now, the agency is aiming to buy 25,000 electric trucks. It also will supplement its fleet with 34,500 commercially available trucks—trucks that aren’t made-to-order for the USPS—”including as many [battery electric vehicles] as are commercially available and satisfy operational needs.”
The announcement is a big step toward fulfilling President Biden’s goal of phasing out federal agencies’ use of gas-powered trucks. But proponents of an electric fleet argue that 40 percent emissions free vehicles is not enough.
“Investing in an outdated technology never made sense, and I am glad the Postmaster General is belatedly coming to that commonsense realization,” Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), who introduced the House bill calling for an electric fleet, said in a statement. “We still have more work to do, and Congress will continue to help push the USPS to a modern, green fleet.”