House panel to grill USPS in gas-gazelle truck purchase plan

Postmaster General Louis D’Oz ordered the first 50,000 NGDVs on March 24; About 20 percent of those purchases were for electric vehicles.

The Postal Service’s plan falls short of the White House’s goal of moving the entire federal civilian fleet to electric vehicles by 2035. The Mail Agency’s 217,000 vehicles make up the largest share of government civilian vehicles.

Transportation is the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, and even growing sales of electric vehicles – which account for about 5 percent of new car sales – have yet to make a significant dent in the auto market. Proponents of the electric vehicle hoped that the postal service would provide a lift for the purchasing industry.

Private-sector fleets have overtaken the federal government in electrification in recent years, and the White House and EV boosters claim that a green postal fleet will encourage manufacturers to build the infrastructure for more electric vehicles and their required charging stations nationwide.

Victoria Stephen, head of the Postal Service’s NGDV program, will testify before the panel, committee chair Caroline B. Maloney (DNY) announced Thursday, postal service inspector general Tammy Whitcomb said.

Whitcomb’s office released a report this month that found that electric vehicles would be better suited for mail-delivery responsibilities and would save the agency money in the long run.

“It is important for our environment and our future that the postal service is rapidly transformed into an electric fleet,” Maloney said in a statement. “The federal government should lead the way, not lag behind private companies that are already moving to electrify their fleet to save money and prevent climate change.”

Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY) and Gerald E. Leading Democrats on the committee, including Connolly (Va.), Have previously pressed federal officials about delaying plans to electrify federal vehicles.

Senate Liberals on Thursday responded to DJ’s initial order for trucks, urging the postal chief to “significantly increase the percentage of EVs” buying mail services. Sense Jeff Markle (Ore.) And Thomas R. Nineteen Democrats in the upper house, led by Carper (Del.), Demanded that the Democrats provide the agency with records of its electric-vehicle analysis and detailed accounting information of its dealings with Oshkosh.

“The USPS is responsible for about one-third of the federal fleet, and the steps taken by the USPS will have a significant impact on whether the United States contributes to tackling climate change,” the senators wrote. “While investing in at least 20 percent of electric postal vehicles is an improvement, USPS must do more. The current USPS plan to invest primarily in fossil fuel-powered vehicles not only endangers public health and the environment, the decision comes at a time when companies such as Federal Express (FedEx) and United Parcel Service (UPS) are increasingly turning to electricity. Vehicles for economic reasons. “

Amazon plans to buy 100,000 electric vans, with the goal that half of its deliveries will be carbon-neutral by 2030. It also holds about 20 percent stake in electric-truck maker Revian. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post.)

FedEx and UPS have also made electric vehicles a small but ever-growing part of their fleet. As of 2019, about 1.5 percent of FedEx’s fleet – including delivery trucks, forklifts and airport ground service equipment – runs on at least partial battery power.

But postal leaders claim that an electric fleet would be too expensive, citing the high cost of EVs and related infrastructure. The Environmental Impact Statement of the Postal Service for NGDV calculates that gas-powered vehicles will be more economical than their estimated 20-year lifespan. Independent auto and environmental experts say the agency’s figures are inaccurate and that the mail service will save money in the long run on lower fuel and maintenance costs, even if EV’s advance costs are higher.

The Inspector General’s report supports those arguments. “Electric vehicles are generally more mechanically reliable and require less maintenance than gas-powered vehicles,” the report said. “Energy costs for electric vehicles will be lower, because using electricity to get an electric vehicle is cheaper than using gasoline.”

NGDVs are rarely an environmental improvement compared to the agency’s current “Long Life Vehicle” or LLVs. With air conditioning running, they get 8.6 mpg, which is 0.4 mpg more than existing vehicles. Experts say the industry standard for petrol-powered delivery vehicles today is 12 to 14 mpg.

Electric vehicles will offer 70 miles per charge, the agency said, with auto experts and government regulators claiming the figures greatly undermine their capabilities.

When it awarded the truck contract to Oshkosh in February 2021, the postal service stated that the company could convert gas-powered vehicles to batteries due to the company’s financial situation and improvements in EV technology. But postal officials said they had “no plans” to recover any vehicles.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the postal service’s new gas-powered trucks will emit greenhouse gases, with an estimated 20 million metric tons of vehicles over a 20-year lifespan, matching the annual emissions of approximately 4.3 million passenger vehicles.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Djoy said he did not oppose buying more electric trucks but that funding should come from Congress and only from the postal service account if the company’s finances improve. He said he focused on replacing the agency’s failed fleet, not electrification.

“From my point of view, my goal is to deliver mail and packages,” he said. “The policy of electrifying the nation’s fleet is a mission that I will support. But I will neglect to spend all my money to do it. ”

The 10,019 electric vehicles requested by the Postal Service in its first order from Oshkosh matched the 10,019 mail routes that Djoy said he knew were a “slam dunk” for trucks.

“As we move forward, that’s how I decide,” he said. “When I go to buy the next amount, we will re-evaluate.”

Policymakers on both sides of the aisle agree that the mail agency’s aging LLVs are unsafe and in dire need of replacement. LLVs are 30 years old and do not have airbags or air conditioners They are known to catch fire from excessive use year after year.

They are also ineligible for the changing business of postal services. DJOY has positioned the agency to be more competitive in package shipping with competitors such as UPS, FedEx and Amazon. LLVs are too small to handle postal epidemic parcel flow. And while the agency’s mail business has shrunk by 45 percent since 2008, its package business has more than doubled. NGDV has a lot more cargo area to store packages.

Congressional proponents are divided over how – or whether – the new postal fleet will be. The Mail Agency has approximately $ 24 billion in cash after lawmakers approved an emergency $ 10 billion epidemic grant in 2020. And Congress voted in March to overhaul the agency’s money, freeing it from past arrears and ভবিষ্য 107 billion in future payments.

Republicans, disgusted with President Biden’s approval of spending on climate goals, said DJO should be pressured with its predominantly gas-powered fleet. Democrats appear to be splitting into more funding approvals for electric NGDVs and battery-charging stations, and to encourage the postal service to spend the money it already has.

The Biden administration’s original “Build Back Better” social spending package includes $ 6 billion for electric postal trucks and battery chargers. Biden’s 2023 budget proposal includes $ 300 million for electric mail vehicles and charging stations.

“The postal service, for example, has one-quarter-million vehicles today, and all of those vehicles depend on an existing infrastructure that carries gas and diesel fuel,” Kahn said. “If we buy 10,000 electric vehicles and place them in Montana or some rural part of the country, the grid may not be electrified to support these vehicles.”

“The biggest problem with any long-term purchase is moving too fast and going beyond your company’s ability to absorb technology,” Tangharlini added. “So what I want to understand is how does the postal service plan to change this technology?”

Anna Phillips contributed to this report.

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