Remember electric mail trucks?


MELISSA MATHIESON

Mail trucks, which mostly drive short and predictable routes, are perfect candidates for leading the electrification revolution. But the USPS, as an institution, is not

But what began as mostly good-natured celebration over a cute, much-needed truck went downhill fast. It increasingly became clear the massive order was utterly unfit for the modern age. In a legally-mandated environmental review, the USPS revealed the gas version of the truck will get essentially the same miles per gallon with the air conditioning on as the current truck gets, or about 8 mpg, worse than the RAM ProMaster, which the USPS also uses, which gets roughly 14 mpg. It also revealed the truck’s weight was selected to be precisely one pound heavier than the “heavy duty truck” cutoff which frees it from various environmental regulations, including getting better gas mileage. And, most controversially of all, only 10 percent of the trucks will be electric, even though the USPS itself said in the environmental review that 95 percent of its routes are fit for EVs…

The USPS’s responses to this criticism have only yielded more questions. On February 6, the USPS released a lengthy statement defending its decision. The USPS said it would buy more electric vehicles if it could afford them. But, it also said its own calculations found more electric vehicles would be more expensive and not be fiscally responsible (an assertion its critics vehemently reject as based on fundamentally flawed analyses, citing a 2021 Atlas Public Policy study that found the USPS could save as much as $4.3 billion over the lifespan of the vehicles, or almost the total cost of the vehicles themselves, by going electric)…Despite the criticism, the USPS finalized its environmental review and says it will move ahead with the procurement.

It is easy to conjure theories of corruption or politically motivated decision making…What these theories—and much of the commentary about the new delivery trucks in recent weeks—miss is not just the history of the lengthy procurement process itself, but the context of the USPS‘s recent history. That recent history is of an organization that considers innovation a synonym for risk, and risks a prospect that it cannot afford to take. The USPS doesn’t want to be anywhere close to the cutting edge of anything, up to and including leading an electric revolution.

Just about every single reason, analysis and process our incompetent bureaucracy might muster to blockade progress which included the word, “electric”, was brought into play throughout the decision-making process. Read this and weep for simple, material reasoning.

2 thoughts on “Remember electric mail trucks?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.