The United States Postal Service, or USPS, was once the most integral part of society. Through rain and sleet and snow, the postman always came through. That was the good ol’ days. Now, more than half the mail that comes through the USPS is from direct mailers (i.e. junk mail) and the USPS is hemorrhaging money in the billions of dollars. Sure, there if the inefficient bueracracy that needs a serious reworking, but a big consumer of money are those tiny post trucks scooting around time, literally sucking the post office dry by going through so much gas.
This is an area that even skeptics agree electric vehicles will flourish, and not just in the U.S. France plans to have its postal system, La Poste, using 10,000 electric vehicles by the end of 2011.
I love the USPS, I just don’t love how it cannot sustain itself. I rarely say this, but the U.S. needs to take a cue from France. The French postal service, La Poste, has been seriously working on reducing fuel consumption since 2009. First, they started teaching their drivers how to get the most out of their tank of gas through hypermiling techniques. This alone has produced annual fuel savings of around 15%.
The plan to put 10,000 electric vehicles in La Poste’s hands actually began back in 2007, and should culminate by the end of 2011. Some offices will get Citreon Berlingo electric delivery vans (pictured above), many of which are already on the roads. Other postal carriers will have their four wheels replaced by electric bicycles, and still others will have to walk, aided by an electronic trolley. All told though, it should have the effect of smoothing out much of La Poste’s overhead and save millions, if not billions of dollars over the years. France is in fact replacing much of its government fleets with electric vehicles, multiplying the savings at a time when even major governments are feeling the squeeze of the worldwide recession.
Implementing such a plan in American cities would be a breeze, and the USPS is experimenting with alternative fuel vehicles already. However, even if the USPS went about bought 20,000 electric delivery vans tomorrow though, it would be but a drop in the bucket as the USPS employs over 200,000 vehicles to ship and deliver mail. Almost all those vehicles need fuel…and that fuel ain’t cheap. Sounds like before they start buying replacement vehicles, they might want to consider some serious downsizing first.