US Postal Service Is Going All-Electric After All

It is reversing its previous position and may get different trucks.

USPS van


In a major reversal of its previous plans, the U.S. Postal Service has cranked up the number of electric versions of its next generation delivery vehicles (NGDVs) to 45,000 out of the 60,000 NGDVs on order. After 2026, all new vehicles will be fully battery-powered.

Treehugger previously wrote about the original controversial order from Oshkosh Defense, which I rather liked because of the great visibility, noting that "from a pedestrian and cyclist safety point of view, one couldn't really ask for more." But only 10% of the trucks were going to be electric, and it was clearly designed around a gas engine with that beak projecting out front.

After much opposition from environmental groups, 16 states, and the federal government in July 2022, the USPS increased the proportion of electric trucks to 50% of the order and said they would buy commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) as well.

But now, with the help of $3 billion from the Inflation Reduction Act, they have changed their plans again. According to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy:

“The $3 billion provided by Congress has significantly reduced the risk associated with accelerating the implementation of a nationwide infrastructure necessary to electrify our delivery fleet. While most of the electric vehicle funding will continue to come from Postal Service revenues, we are grateful for the confidence that Congress and the Administration have placed in us to build and acquire what has the potential to become the largest electric vehicle fleet in the nation.”

Environmental groups who have been challenging DeJoy are overjoyed at the change.

The U.S. Postal Service is apparently sticking with the NGDV design, which makes little sense for an electric vehicle. As Katie Fehrenbacher of GreenBiz noted when the design came out, you can't just drop an electric motor into a truck designed for gas. She tweeted, "Ridiculous that the design could be electric of ICE. What we’ve learned from the last decade of EV design is that electric vehicles needed to be designed specifically around batteries, power train and different weigh dynamics than ICEs. Not an ICE converted to batteries."

That hasn't stopped Ford and GM from making electric pickup trucks with giant and deadly front ends with "frunks" instead of engines, but they are responding to the market that likes big manly front ends. The post office has no such issues.

Electric vehicle builder Rob Cotter also noted that the giant windshield would make it an air-conditioned nightmare and that "The Beak is atrocious and would be completely unnecessary if it was full electric."

The post office was originally going to buy 165,000 of the Oshkosh NGDVs, but is now only committing to the original order of 60,000 and will look at other options like COTS "depending on market availability and operational feasibility." This has excited fans of the Canoo electric truck (which include me), with one claiming: "Ordering from Canoo, who is an All American company with existing relationships with other governmental agencies and strong ties to US Lawmakers, ought to be worth political capital for USPS."

Others point out on Reddit: "The Canoo is not nearly big enough; the USPS is only interested in vehicles large enough to walk in. A USPS vehicle needs to be big enough for the USPS's shelving and for the driver to be able to comfortably walk around in." But it is not the only choice.

Brightdrop van
Brightdrop Van.


When the USPS originally placed its order for the NGDVs there were not a lot of options, but now there are lots of COTS like Ford E-Transits, Rivians, and BrightDrop vans, which are being used already by FedEx. The Brightdrop is designed from the ground up as an electric vehicle and doesn't have a silly beak. Perhaps the USPS should go back to the drawing board with NGDVs now that they are electrifying everything.

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