The United States Postal service is the second largest civilian employer in the country, after Wal-Mart. Over 650,000 are employed by the USPS, which utilizes some 260,000 vehicles. While 43,000 of these vehicles run on E85 fuel, they still manage to get an average of just 9 mpg. Pretty terrible gas mileage, and E85 made with today’s methods isn’t all that much better when it comes to carbon emissions anyway.
Perhaps that is why the government is considering granting the USPS $2 billion to electrify 20,000 delivery vehicles. And if there is any government agency that could benefit from electric vehicles, it is definitely the USPS.
Considering how much of the mail is delivered by local-only vehicles that rarely even break the speed limit, electric vehicles make sense. They wouldn’t be required to have an extended range (25-30 miles per day would probably be more than adequate), they could all be charged at a single location, and it would certainly help save money. The USPS has explored other options for delivering the mail such as e-scooters and and hybrid trucks because they really need to turn their “revenue-neutral” business around. The USPS is hemorrhaging cash; between the last quarter of 2008, and the first two quarters of 2009, the USPS lost $4.69 billion. That ain’t exactly chump change.
Neither is $2 billion, and the money might not even make it to the USPS. Even if it does, those 20,000 vehicles represent just 15% of the USPS’s fleet of vehicles, and the cost comes out to $100,000 per vehicle. Umm, what are they planning on delivering the mail in, Tesla Roadsters? Why not pay some private firms to convert those glorified go-karts I see putzing around town to electric power? It could probably be done for under $25,000 per vehicle (a guesstimate, though plenty of people have electrified their vehicles for far less).
The bill, H.R. 4399, is being pushed by Rep. Jose E. Serrano. We’ll have to see if it makes it through. In the end it could go a long way towards curbing those outrageous annual losses.
Source: Green Car Advisor | Image: Chrysler