As the U.S. Postal Service tests its new prototypes for the next mail delivery truck, environmental groups and others are urging it to pick an electric vehicle.
In a letter to Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan, the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Union of Concerned Scientists and 10 other groups urged the postal service to choose plug-in electric vehicles as it seeks to replace its aging fleet of mail trucks.
If an electric vehicle is chosen, the postal service would have the largest electric vehicle fleet in the world, the Sierra Club said.
“A large USPS order of electric trucks could help catalyze the clean delivery vehicle market and accelerate the adoption of EVs by other fleets,” Luke Tonachel, director of the clean vehicles and fuels project at the Natural Resources Defense Council, told Trucks.com. “USPS has a big opportunity to be a leading innovator and to work to building an oil-free vehicle fleet.”
Five companies have produced prototype delivery vans as part of the postal service’s Next Generation Delivery Vehicles, or NGDVs, program, which the agency is testing in “real-world” conditions in multiple locations.
The postal service said the winner of the vehicle contract, estimated to be worth around $6.3 billion to replace up to 180,000 mail trucks over seven years, will be announced in early 2018.
The VT Hackney/Workhorse all-electric prototype has a small BMW gasoline engine that acts as a generator to extend the range of the truck. The Mahindra prototype has a 2.5-liter engine from General Motors and may be available with a mild hybrid powertrain option.
Switching to electric delivery trucks from gasoline-powered vehicles would save the postal service in fuel costs and reduce emissions while reducing reliance on foreign oil by substituting domestic electricity and reducing maintenance costs, the environmental groups said.
“Adopting lower emission delivery trucks will position USPS as an innovative leader by showing how large government and private fleets can travel on nearly every type of road in the United States while emitting little to no harmful pollutants in our air,” the letter said.
Besides the VT Hackney– /Workhorse and Mahindra electric vehicles, other prototypes include vehicles from AM General, Karsan/Morgan Olson and Oshkosh.
“The U.S Postal Service has begun the next phase of its process to develop a future class of delivery vehicles that will incorporate new technology to accommodate a diverse mail mix, enhance safety, improve service, reduce emissions and produce operational savings,” Kim Frum, a USPS spokeswoman, told Trucks.com.
Every three weeks, the five prototypes, which are being tested in different terrains and environments, move to another test area in the U.S.
“The testing will allow the postal service the opportunity to make an informed and educated decision of the future of our vehicle fleet based on carrier feedback and observations,” Frum said.
The new mail truck will replace the Grumman Long Life Vehicle, which was designed in the 1980s. Of the 215,000 mail trucks in rotation, 140,000 are at least two decades old.