USPS is switching to electric mail trucks, in reversal for Trump-era postmaster general

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Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images U.S. Postal Service electric delivery vans
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The U.S. Postal Service will buy 66,000 electric mail-delivery vehicles by 2028, Biden administration officials and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced Tuesday. USPS operates the largest — and oldest — fleet of vehicles in the federal government. Most mail trucks are 30 years old, lack air conditioning and airbags, and get a gas-guzzling 8.2 miles per gallon.

DeJoy unveiled a plan in 2021 to replace the Postal Service's 217,000 aging vehicles with 90 percent gas-powered trucks, even as President Biden was pushing the federal government transition to all-electric vehicles by 2035 to reduce U.S. climate emissions. DeJoy, a GOP donor appointed during the Trump administration, was already little-liked in the Biden White House for his ill-timed USPS overhaul in 2020, and his plans for the new mail-delivery fleet did not boost his popularity.

The new plan calls for buying 60,000 "Next Generation Delivery Vehicles" from Wisconsin-based Oshkosh, 45,000 of them electric, plus another 21,000 off-the-shelf electric vehicles from mainstream automakers. Under the guidelines, all new USPS vehicles will be electric starting in 2026.

DeJoy said Tuesday that his change in plans was due mostly to improved finances, pointing to $3 billion earmarked for the mail fleet upgrade in the Inflation Reduction Act — nearly a third of the $9.6 billion price tag for the new vehicles — and reduced pension obligations from a postal reform bill enacted in April. That extra money will allow USPS to "build and acquire what has the potential to become the largest electric vehicle fleet in the nation," he said.

DeJoy also praised the "collaborative spirit" of White House officials, especially clean energy innovation adviser John Podesta, who also spoke at Tuesday's unveiling. "It's wonderful that the Postal Service will be at the forefront of the switch to clean electric vehicles, with postal workers as their ambassadors," Podesta said. "It will get people thinking, 'If the postal worker delivering our Christmas presents ... is driving an EV, I can drive one, too.'"

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