Thirteen environmental groups working on clean transportation solutions sent a letter to the United States Postal Service (USPS) urging it to select plug-in electric vehicles (EVs) for the next generation of delivery vehicles (NGDV). The USPS fleet travels more than 1.3 billion miles every year and uses more than 180 million gasoline gallon equivalents (GGE) of fuel.
Two of the five vehicles USPS are currently considering for the next generation of delivery trucks are plug-in models, the environmental organizations said. The winner of the contract will be announced in early 2018, with deployment likely to begin in Q1 2020. If an electric model is selected, the USPS fleet would be the largest electric vehicle fleet in the world.
The USPS operates a fleet of more than 200,000 vehicles in all areas of the United States and its territories; approximately 163,000 of these are right-hand drive, light-duty carrier route vehicles (CRVs) purchased between 1987 and 2001. These vehicles are rear-wheel driven, powered by internal combustion engines, and of aluminum body-on-frame design. The payload capacity is approximately 1,400 pounds.
These vehicles are near the end of their designed useful life. The USPS intends to retire this fleet in coming years, and to replace the vehicles with Next Generation Delivery Vehicles (NGDVs).
The USPS publicly began the Next Generation Delivery Vehicles (NGDV) acquisition program in January 2015 with a Request for Information (RFI). A Request for Proposal (RFP) was issued in October 2015 which included a statement of objectives in response to feedback received from the supplier community and other stakeholders. In 2016, the Postal Service awarded contracts to six prime suppliers who together were to produce 50 prototype vehicles as part of the next phase of the NGDV acquisition process. Half of the prototypes would feature hybrid and new technologies, including alternative fuel capabilities, USPS said at the time.
Since then, the pool has shrunk to five: three single companies—AM General, Oshkosh and Mahindra—and two collaborations—VT Hackney/Workhorse and Karsan/Morgan Olson.
Public details on the vehicles are scant, although the VT Hackney/Workhorse candidate is a range-extended electric vehicle. VT Hackney is building the body of the prototype vehicles while Workhorse Group is providing the chassis and powertrain. Karson/Morgan is making a hybrid truck that is also being considered.
The USPS received prototype NGDV vehicles the week of 18 September; actual testing by letter carriers began the week of 2 October. Testing sites include Flint and Utica, MI; Falls Church and Leesburg, VA; and Tempe and Tucson, AZ. On a three-week rotating basis, the vehicles will be used over the next six months during normal delivery operations in these diverse weather environments.
Testing will focus on each prototype’s comfort, usability, functionality, ergonomics, performance, operations, and so on. Additionally, testing of the vehicles’ durability, components and fuel economy will be conducted by engineers at third-party laboratories.
The environmental organizations signing the letter include:
- Electric Auto Association
- Environment America
- Environmental Law and Policy Center
- Natural Resource Council of Maine
- Natural Resources Defense Council
- Oregon Environmental Council
- Plug In America
- Public Citizen
- Safe Climate Campaign
- Sierra Club
- Union of Concerned Scientists