USPS Orders 9,250 Ford E-Transit Vans & 14,000 EV Charging Stations

There’s news today from the US Postal Service about electrifying its fleet of vehicles. In a press release, USPS says it has awarded contracts to Ford to purchase 9,250 left-hand-drive regular production E-Transit electric vans as well as 14,000 EV charging stations to support their use. These awards are consistent with the vehicle electrification strategy announced by USPS in December of 2022, accompanied by senior White House officials.

Overall, the Postal Service’s total investment in vehicles is expected to reach $9.6 billion, including $3 billion from Inflation Reduction Act funds. The December 2022 plan called for acquisitions over the next five years to make the 75 Next Generation Delivery Vehicles fleet 75% electric by 2025. Acquisitions of new delivery vehicles for the postal service after 2026 will be 100% electric.

As part of the earliest stages of the delivery vehicle replacement plan, a contract for 9,250 commercial-off-the-shelf internal combustion engine vehicles will also be concurrently awarded to fill the urgent need for vehicles. The specific locations for deployment of the vehicles and infrastructure have not yet been finalized and will depend on route characteristics, including whether a left-hand-drive vehicle is mission-suitable as well as other business considerations. The Postal Service plans to begin building out its charging infrastructure across a minimum of 75 locations within the next 12 months, and thereafter to continue the infrastructure buildout in the succeeding years at many additional facilities as a part of its delivery vehicle electrification strategy.

“We are moving forward with our plans to simultaneously improve our service, reduce our cost, grow our revenue, and improve the working environment for our employees. Electrification of our vehicle fleet is now an important component of these initiatives,” said Louis DeJoy, Postmaster General. “We have developed a strategy that mitigates both cost and risk of deployment — which enable execution on this initiative to begin now. I again want to thank the Administration officials and members of Congress who have assisted us in this initiative. Each has shown genuine understanding that our movement toward electrification must be thoughtful and deliberate, must appropriately manage risk, and must be consistent with our primary delivery mission for the American people.”

After a competitive search, the Postal Service awarded a contract to purchase a total of 9,250 Ford E-Transit battery electric vehicles. Delivery of the vehicles is intended to commence in December of this year, assuming successful completion of the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement that it announced it would undertake in August 2022, and the related issuance of its Record of Decision pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act. These domestically sourced vehicles will be 100% electric and are part of the 21,000 COTS vehicles included in the Postal Service’s vehicle acquisition plan announced in December 2022. The Ford E-Transit BEVs are manufactured in Kansas City, Missouri.

14,000 EV Chargers Included

To support the charging for all the newly purchased electric vehicles, both the COTS vehicles announced today and future acquisitions, the Postal Service awarded competitive contracts to three suppliers for the purchase of more than 14,000 charging stations to establish an initial and ongoing EVSE (electric vehicle supply equipment) inventory. This EVSE inventory is the charging station hardware and software needed to support EV charging at the facilities from which the delivery vehicles will operate.

Contracts totaling $260 million for the charging stations went to Blink Charging Co., Siemens Industry Inc., and Rexel USA Energy Solutions, the Postal Service said. Charging stations will be installed at several Postal Service facilities, including sorting and delivery centers, starting in the third quarter of this year.

“The Postal Service has been steadfastly committed to the fiscally responsible and mission capable roll-out of electric powered vehicles for America’s largest and oldest federal fleet. The agency has continually assessed its operational and infrastructure build-out capacity, financial position including IRA funds, and vehicle mix deployment over the past 12 months. The Postal Service anticipates that this commitment of funds by 2028 for both vehicles and charging infrastructure will result in a total of 66,230 electric delivery vehicles and an overall acquisition of 106,000 delivery vehicles. All awards in today’s announcement are contingent on the Postal Service’s satisfactory completion of National Environmental Policy Act requirements.”

In a separate press release, Ford CEO Jim Farley said, “Ford is proud to support the United States Postal Service in delivering a more sustainable future for America by electrifying their fleet with over 9,200 E-Transit vans through the end of 2024. Built by our dedicated UAW workforce at the Kansas City Assembly Plant, vehicles will be operated by the largest electric fleet in the country serving communities on every street corner. Together with USPS, we are committing to cleaner air and a better planet.”

USPS & Electric Vehicles

CleanTechnica readers are well aware of the long and tortured trail that has preceded this announcement. Last April, our own Tina Casey wondered why the Postal Service didn’t just buy E-Transit vans from Ford. Turns out she was prescient. USPS is now ramping up the number of electric vehicles from the paltry 10% initially planned to 75% within 5 years. That’s huge, although it took a lot of politicking and citizen pressure to make that happen. It also took a lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, CleanAirNow, Sierra Club, and 16 states that challenged the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) decision to replace its aging fleet with close to 150,000 gasoline-powered delivery trucks.

The bad news is that an equal number of gasoline-powered vans from Stellantis (Ram) are being added to the fleet, but that is primarily due to the current vehicles used for daily mail delivery being almost a decade beyond their expected useful life. They are worn out and in need of constant repair. In addition, they get about 8 miles to the gallon. The upshot is they are costing the Postal Service a huge amount of money and are in urgent need of replacement. While buying new gas-powered vans is far from ideal, the higher fuel economy and lower maintenance costs will at least help reduce the cost of operating the current fleet of vehicles.

The Ford E-Transit is a hit with fleet operators looking to save on fuel and maintenance cost. Penske has ordered 750 of them for its fleet of commercial vehicles. They will be available first to leasing and rental customers in Southern California, with other US locations being phased in over the next 12 months.

The Takeaway

The decision to go with electric vehicles for the USPS should have been a no-brainer from the start, and had it not been for a dedicated stooge appointed by a disgraced former president, things probably would have been done differently. The E-Transit is not purpose-built for postal service duties, but it is available and reliable. And it will give USPS — and other fleet managers — an opportunity to evaluate and assess the electric vehicles from Ford alongside an equal number of conventional vans.

We, of course, hope the electric vans outshine the other vans in every category, but we will have to wait for that comparison to play out. In the final analysis, three or four years from now, USPS will realize it should have just gone electric from the very beginning.


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