USPS has delayed the deployment of the electric version of its new Next Generation Delivery Vehicles (NGDVs) until next year, according to new court documents. The Postal Service originally had projected the first electric delivery vans to hit the road by the end of 2023.
Following years of evaluation, the Postal Service declared a winner for its NGDV project in February 2021, with the chosen design being an odd-looking van, built by Wisconsin-based defense contractor Oshkosh Defense.
When USPS announced the contract, the Postal Service said the initial value of the contract was $485 million and Oshkosh Defense would produce between 50,000 to 165,000 units over a 10-year period.
However, one of the surprising revelations was that USPS’s initial order would only include 5,000 Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs), which accounted for just 10% of the total number of NGDVs it planned to purchase on its first order.
In March of 2022, USPS announced it was doubling the size of BEVs to 10,019. But the project was also marred by another revelation in early 2022.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the White House Council on Environmental Quality sent letters to USPS urging them to reconsider their plans, as the gas-powered versions of the NGDV were not any more fuel efficient than current vehicles.
“The Postal Service’s proposal, as currently crafted, represents a crucial lost opportunity to more rapidly reduce the carbon footprint of one of the largest government fleets in the world,” said Vicki Arroyo, EPA’s associate administrator for policy.
Environmentalists had been pushing for the Postal Service to go fully electric. But USPS countered that “the law requires the Postal Service to be self-sufficient” and going all-electric was not financially feasible.
In April 2022, 16 states and several environmental groups challenged the Postal Service’s NGDVs in a lawsuit, claiming USPS failed “to follow a process mandated by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).”
Following the criticism, in July, the Postal Service caved again and said it now planned to procure at least half of all NGDVs as BEVs, and add as many as 34,500 commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) vehicles over a two-year period to supplement the NGDV order.
USPS NGDV Saga Continues
Before the Postal Service can take delivery of the new electric NGDVs, it must finalize its Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS). The draft report was originally scheduled for release this month, with a final report to be released by August, following a public comment period.
However, the draft report is running late now. “[T]he Postal Service has had to undertake revisions of several aspects of its environmental analysis, in part based on topics that public commenters raised regarding the scope of the supplemental review,” USPS said in its court filing.
USPS “now expects to finalize the revised record of decision for the NGDV Acquisitions program in October 2023. (instead of August 2023, as previously projected.”
In other words, the Postal Service is blaming the delay of its SEIS for not receiving the electric NGDVs this year, as had been originally planned.
However, USPS reiterated in its court filings that it is procuring 9,250 commercially available left-hand drive BEVs (Ford E-Transit Vans) as well as 14,000+ charging stations to be deployed at Postal Service facilities across the country.
The first Ford E-Transit Vans are supposed to be on the streets by the end of the year.
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