“We don’t have the extra three or four billion dollars in our plan now that would be needed to do so,” said DeJoy, appointed by former President Donald J. Trump whose decisions – particularly about handling mail during the 2020 elections – made him a political lightning rod. “But we are pleased to speak to the government and this Congress.”
Several studies have shown that falling battery prices and lower maintenance costs have made electric trucks increasingly competitive with conventional ones. And there is a precedent for a quick switch to electric delivery trucks. Amazon last year ordered 100,000 custom electric delivery vehicles from Rivian, another newbie.
Don Hillebrand, director of the Energy Systems Division at the Argonne National Laboratory, said that Oshkosh’s experience with large defense contracts for tough and durable vehicles was probably a factor in the Postal Service’s decision. Oshkosh is also a leader in autonomous driving technology, which can play an increasing role in postal deliveries, he said.
“In the last cycle, they opted for a vehicle that would span 30 solid years,” said Hillebrand. “So, looking at the next stage, they want the same kind of stability, capacity and flexibility.”
Still, the decision was widely criticized by environmental groups and other advocates for electric vehicles.
“They started a process six years ago, but they were late, late, late. And when they got to the end of the road, instead of saying, ‘We need to rethink this’, they made a decision that locks us in internal combustion engines, ”said Robbie Diamond, president of Securing America’s Future Energy, a group that advocates for American energy independence.
Diamond added that it was a missed opportunity for the United States to reach China, which has advanced in electrifying buses and other vehicle fleets. China has also come to dominate global supply chains for essential component parts needed to produce electric vehicles.