In February it was announced Oshkosh Defense had won the contract to produce the next generation of United States Postal Service mail trucks. The catch? There was no commitment to make the new trucks electric. To do that, the USPS said it’d need another $8 billion.
Fast forward to last week, when the House Oversight and Reform Committee added a measure to a bill to provide the USPS with the necessary funding to electrify the majority of the fleet within 10 years, per Bloomberg.
Over the next decade, Oshkosh is expected to produce between 50,000 and 165,000 new trucks to replace the aging, decrepit Grumman LLVs that have been in duty far longer than ever intended. When Oshkosh’s contract was publicized, the language around how many of these vehicles would be powered by gasoline versus electricity was very vague:
The vehicles will be equipped with either fuel-efficient internal combustion engines or battery electric powertrains and can be retrofitted to keep pace with advances in electric vehicle technologies.
Weeks later, the USPS released a report that claimed that “with the right level of Congressional support,” the department could “commit to a majority of the Postal Service’s delivery fleet being electric within ten years and a fully electric fleet by 2035.”
According to Bloomberg, the amendment the bipartisan committee advanced on Thursday made provisions to “…ensure that 75% of purchased vehicles would be electric or zero-emission vehicles.” It also included a stipulation that the USPS acquire only zero-emissions vehicles after 2040, Reuters reported.
Funding for electric delivery vehicles comprised just one part of the USPS legislation pushed last week; it also included measures to improve the tracking of mailed ballots and reforms to cut the Postal Service’s losses. One major reform would eliminate the USPS’s requirement to pre-fund retiree health benefits, enacted in 2006. That change alone is estimated to save the USPS between $40 billion and $50 billion over the next decade.
Of course, it would have been ideal if electrification was part of the USPS’s contract approval criteria from the get go, especially considering the Biden administration’s push for EV manufacturing, embracing EVs within the government’s fleet and massive infrastructure projects. But then, green lighting initiatives that are diametrically opposed to each other is what the federal government loves to do best.