Is the postal service about to go electric?

The U.S. Postal Service may be on the verge of getting a major makeover. After more than three decades of relying on the iconic Grumman Long Life Vehicle to deliver mail across the country, government officials announced their intention to transition the entire federal fleet — including more than 225,000 mail carriers, according to the Government Service Administration, as reported by Vice — to electric power.

Read below to learn more about the possibility of the postal service switching the electric vehicles.

What are the government's plans?

The administration of President Joe Biden recently announced its intention to electrify its entire fleet, in line with its wider plans to encourage more Americans to start driving electric cars. It is estimated that the widespread use of EVs in the United States could save taxpayers around $70 billion, according to the Next Web.

Although the government has mostly taken a secondary role in the development of new driving technologies, it has not been inactive. The Department of Transportation released a report in January 2021 expressing its determination to help facilitate the introduction of autonomous vehicles and to adjust the regulatory system to meet their needs.

Mail is dropped into a mailbox.The USPS could transition to electric vehicles in the near future.

What are the advantages?

The electrification of the USPS will be among the most obvious changes for ordinary Americans. The USPS fleet has long been in need of an upgrade, and the transition to electric power could make it a more sustainable and competitive organization.

The oldest of the Grumman LLVs first hit the streets in 1987, according to CNET, but they were never intended to last very long before needing an upgrade. Many of them are now more than 30 years old, which makes them susceptible to periodic damage. Electric power would carry them into the present and make them better able to meet the demands of today.

Converting to EVs could make the USPS's business model less costly and more sustainable. According to the National Association of Letter Carriers, mail deliverers drive around 10 to 30 miles every day, and the constant stopping and starting puts immense strain on their braking systems. EVs are over 77% fuel efficient, according to the Department of Energy, and their in-built regenerative braking systems could ensure that this new fleet of mail carriers will have longer and safer lives.

What are the obstacles?

While there's good reason to deduce that the government is serious about its plans to electrify the federal fleet, progress has been moving slowly over the prior few months. In December 2020, Axios reported that the USPS had delayed a decision on announcing which company would be contracted to build the fleet. It was the latest in a string of similar delays.

The other big problem, as Vice reported, is that the USPS is not run like a typical government agency; more closely resembling a private company mostly responsible for its own affairs. The federal government has surprisingly little say in whether the USPS will purchase EVs, so it's ultimately up to the postmaster general to decide if converting to electric power is a wise business move.

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