US Postal Services not ready to let go of fossil fuels
Despite Biden’s announcement to electrify government fleets, the United States Postal Service (USPS) has just awarded a contract to the US commercial vehicle manufacturer Oshkosh Defense, which is mainly known for building military vehicles.
++ This article has been updated. Find all updates below. ++
These will replace the entire fleet with up to 165,000 examples of a ‘Next Generation Delivery Vehicle’ over the next ten years. It seems these vehicles will still be fossil-fuelled that could be retrofitted later with an undisclosed number that would be battery-electric. Louis DeJoy, the USPS chief behind this decision (who was appointed by Donald Trump), isn’t a great fan of letting go of fossil fuels.
Update 26 February 2021:
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy further elaborated his plans to lawmakers on Wednesday. As it turns out, the Postal Service is only committed to having electric vehicles make up 10% of its next-generation fleet as part of its multibillion-dollar plan to retire its 30-year-old delivery vehicles. The contract is expected to be worth more than $6 billion in total and will demand delivery of between 50,000 and 165,000 of the vehicles over 10 years. Whether enough OEMs even still supply internal combustion vehicles in a decade will be interesting to see; however, this marks a heavy disappointment for the new US American administration.
Update 10 March 2021:
Following the award of a contract to renew the fleet of the United States Postal Service (USPS), the last word in the matter has apparently not yet been spoken, as there are some new developments.
Now, a group of 17 Democrats in the US House of Representatives has filed a bill to provide $6 billion to the US Postal Service to purchase tens of thousands of additional e-delivery vehicles to have at least 75 per cent of new USPS vehicles electric. Previous decisions by Trump-appointee and USPS boss Louis DeJoy wanted only ten per cent of the fleet electric.
Democratic representatives also alerted the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to reports of unusual trading in Oshkosh stock shortly before the deal was announced. Questions were raised about a 524,400-share Oshkosh trade, which came in after-hours trading on 22 February. The size of that trade was almost as much as the average daily volume in the stock in the prior year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Meanwhile, US vehicle manufacturer Workhorse, which also participated in the initial bidding for the renewal of the USPS fleet, was the only purely e-vehicle manufacturer of the companies involved that had firmly expected to win a share of the contract, announced it would explore its legal options to challenge the decision.
Update 21 June 2021:
Workhorse has made good on its pledge to review legal options and has filed a formal complaint with the United States Federal Court of Claims protesting the award of the USPS ‘Next Generation Delivery Vehicle’ contract to a competing finalist.
In the bidding to renew the fleet of the US postal service with a disputed percentage of electric vehicles, Workhorse was the only EV-exclusive manufacturer.
Essentially Workhorse doubts whether or not the mail carrier ever seriously considered the company’s electric vehicles as contenders and replacement for the Grumman “long-life vehicles” delivering mail across the States today. Details of the lawsuit remain vague as the company said it must protect some trade secrets that can be found in its bid from competitors.
Part of the lawsuit is Workhorse asking the court for a preliminary injunction to halt the procurement process for Oshkosh’s mail trucks until the decision is reviewed. The company also alleges the USPS was leaning heavily against electrification in the first place and did not even consider an all-electric prototype from Oshkosh, at least according to information by the Washington Post quoted by Car and Driver magazine.
Update 24 June 2021:
After the United States Postal Service (USPS) placed an order with US commercial vehicle manufacturer Oshkosh Defense to supply up to 165,000 delivery vans, it is now also clear where they will be built and who will supply components for the vehicles. Oshkosh Defense will produce the USPS vehicles in Spartanburg, South Carolina, starting in the summer of 2023. It was also revealed that Ford will supply a number of components for the United States Postal Service’s new delivery trucks. This applies to both the combustion engine and electric versions. So far, the plan is for only ten per cent of the vehicles ordered to be electric, but the last word may not yet have been said on the quota of zero-emission vehicles.
Update 17 September 2021:
Workhorse has now withdrawn its complaint filed in June with the United States Supreme Court against the United States Postal Service’s (USPS) fleet replacement contract award. The reasoning: “The federal government has announced its intention to replace its fleet with electric vehicles, and we believe that the best way for us to work with any governmental agency is through cooperation, not through litigation.”
electrek.co, usps.com, reuters.com (update 10 March), yahoo.com (Oshkosh deal), workhorse.com (workhorse), caranddriver.com, workhorse.com (both update June ’21), greencarreports.com (update 24 June), workhorse.com (update 17 September)