Postal Updates

USPS unveils first electric delivery trucks, charging stations in Atlanta

Feb 5, 2024, 8 AM
On Jan. 22 in Atlanta, the United States Postal Service introduced its first electric delivery vehicles and the charging stations needed to power them. Image courtesy of the U.S. Postal Service.

By Allen Abel

An all-electric future for postal deliveries in the United States moved a step closer on Jan. 22, when the U.S. Postal Service premiered the first of the tens of thousands of charging stations that will be needed to power its zero-emissions air-conditioned electric trucks.

The U.S. Postal Service and White House officials chose the vital election year swing state of Georgia for the rollout ceremony, with Biden administration personnel joining Postmaster General Louis DeJoy in Atlanta to hail the revitalization of what the Postal Service calls “America’s largest and oldest federal fleet.”

“In every neighborhood in America, people know their postal carrier and recognize the USPS vehicle driving down their street,” John Podesta, senior advisor to the president for clean energy innovation and implementation, was quoted as saying in a Jan. 22 USPS news release. “The work USPS is doing to electrify those vehicles is making EVs [electric vehicles] commonplace on every road and street in our country, while reducing air pollution and increasing comfort and safety for the dedicated public servants who deliver our mail.”

The unveiling did not feature any of the specially designed vehicles that the USPS has commissioned to form the majority of its future delivery fleet. Instead, it presented a convoy of battery-powered Ford E-Transit trucks.

“USPS plans on procuring a total of 21,000 COTS [commercial off-the-shelf] EVs — including 9,250 from Ford — depending on market availability and operational feasibility,” the USPS said. “In addition, the Postal Service anticipates adding at least 45,000 battery-electric Next Generation Delivery Vehicles (NGDVs) by 2028, bringing the total number of EVs in the delivery fleet to more than 66,000. ... USPS will also continue to explore the feasibility of achieving 100-percent electrification for its delivery vehicle fleet.”

The inaugural unveiling took place at the South Atlanta sorting and delivery center, one of 29 such hubs (out of a planned 400) that are intended to consolidate existing facilities into larger, centralized buildings, each with the capacity to charge multiple electric vehicles.

The Postal Service’s transition to electric delivery vehicles has been controversial, with some labor groups sending emissaries to meetings of the Postal Service’s board of governors to protest the alleged use of nonunion workers in the assembly of the new fleet.

In addition, the United Auto Workers and the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC, an international nonprofit environmental organization) sued the Postal Service “over its plan to buy tens of thousands of polluting trucks for its fleet rather than cleaner electric vehicles,” according to an April 28, 2022, NRDC press release.

The NRDC called the Postal Service’s environmental review of the plan an “error-filled, flimsy analysis.” The nonprofit organization dropped its role in the suit in late 2023.

“After NRDC and others sued, USPS went back to the drawing board and recognized the benefits of zero-emission vehicles,” Thomas Zimpleman, an NRDC senior attorney, told Linn’s Stamp News. “For its purchase of more than 100,000 vehicles over the coming years, it moved from an initial plan to purchase just 10 percent custom-built electric delivery vehicles to one with more than 75 percent custom-built EVs.”

“Clean trucks are here, and the Postal Service’s change of course is an important recognition of that fact,” Zimpleman said.

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