The U.S. Postal Service said Tuesday it will go all-electric for new delivery vehicle purchases starting in 2026.
That’s a significant boost from the pledge to make 10% of the fleet electric offered up from agency in 2021. And because of the size of the total fleet, it’s a win for a Biden administration that has made the migration of the U.S. economy to net-zero carbon emissions a priority.
The USPS announcement “sets the bar for the rest of the federal government, and, importantly, the rest of the world,” the White House said in a statement.
Biden has already ordered the entirety of the federal government to purchase only zero-emissions vehicles by 2035. But the Post Office runs on its own budget.
Burning fossil fuels, including gasoline
for private and service vehicles is among the largest contributors to Earth-warming greenhouse gas emissions. Road transportation is 12.6% of total emissions, trailing the energy used to power the electric grid. As more vehicles become electric, making the practice truly “green” will require using more wind, solar, nuclear and other sources to create electricity.
USPS said Tuesday it is spending nearly $10 billion to electrify an aging fleet that was on course for replacement vehicles anyway.
The spending includes installing charging infrastructure at hundreds of postal facilities nationwide and purchasing at least 66,000 electric delivery trucks in the next five years. And the plan includes tapping $3 billion approved as part of a climate-focused spending bill signed into law this summer.
The new plan “sets the postal fleet on a course for electrification, significantly reduces vehicles miles traveled in the network and places USPS at the forefront of the clean transportation revolution,” said John Podesta, a senior White House adviser, in a statement.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who faced criticism for a vehicle replacement plan that still included thousands of gas-powered trucks, has said that the demand to deliver mail and packages to 163 million addresses six days a week called for a fleet that uses more than electricity. With 30-year-old trucks in some instances, which lack air conditioning, air bags and other standard safety features, the fleet’s days have been numbered. The gas-powered versions only get about eight miles to the gallon in fuel efficiency.
But in a release Tuesday, DeJoy said, “As I have said in the past, if we can achieve those objectives in a more environmentally responsible way, we will do so.”
Podesta told the Washington Post that he confronted DeJoy about his agency’s plans when the two began talking in September. By then, the Postal Service said 40% of its new trucks would be EVs.
“I just think we thought it was critical to our success and the overall [climate change] program,” Podesta told the news outlet. “So we stuck with it, pushed it, he pushed back, and we pushed back.”
Post Office officials told the Washington Post their plans call for buying 60,000 “Next Generation Delivery Vehicles” from defense contractor OshkoshOSK, of which 45,000 will be electric. The agency will also purchase 46,000 models from mainstream automakers, of which 21,000 will be electric, the report said.
The White House has also said that when more government practices go electric, the private sector may find it easier to follow up with its own conversions. That’s true of the delivery competition to the USPS.
for one, has already promised to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2040. That’s a full decade faster than the broader U.S. net-zero pledge and the 2050 deadline that most major nations and large companies have set.
Amazon holds a 20% stake in electric truck maker Rivian
The delivery giant has said it hopes to have 100,00 Rivian EVs on the road by the end of this decade.
For their part, FedEx
has committed to carbon-neutral operations by 2040, including an electric delivery fleet. UPS
has plans to go carbon-neutral by 2050 and use 40% alternative fuels by 2025.
The Associated Press contributed.