Minnesota Man Uses Tesla Model S For Postal Delivery – Video


Video Description:

Henry's Tesla packed with mail

Henry’s Tesla packed with mail

In the small rural community of Ortonville, Minnesota, Henry Nelson is a mail man with a difference. His community relies on him, and he relies on his Model S. With its superior handling, exceptional reliability, and low running costs (except, perhaps, the occasional car wash), Model S is the only choice for Henry.

Ortonville, Minnesota has a population of 1,856. Henry says that it has lots of hometown charm. His postal route is 124 miles per day, 80 of which are on gravel roads. He has been driving the Tesla Model S 85 for his mail route since October 2014. With 38,000 miles on the vehicle, Henry has basically had no maintenance beyond cleaning it.

Henry said that in the past he averaged about $25-30 a day for gas. This obviously was during a time when fuel prices were approaching nearly triple today’s prices. Now, Henry manages to cover his route for about $3!

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40 Comments on "Minnesota Man Uses Tesla Model S For Postal Delivery – Video"

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Hey! My wife’s home town. No kidding.

Too bad Tesla didn’t get in the running to replace the mail truck.

Do you actually know that?

Yeah, its also to bad that GM or another large company didn’t do the same with a plug-in mail truck version.

Yeah, I read the USPS’s RFQ. It was well-intended. They cleared had talked to everyone involved prior to issuing it: the mail carriers, the mechanics, the fleet managers, the procurement folks, the finance folks, etc.

The problem is that they combined all of the needs/wants into a huge list of specs for one vehicle that did everything, which is tough for any company to meet, rather than split it into two or three vehicles classes.

Does “The problem is that they combined all of the needs/wants into a huge list of specs for one vehicle that did everything, which is tough for any company to meet, rather than split it into two or three vehicles classes.” sound like most people arguing against EV’s?

Maybe the Postal Service figured with one vehicle type or spec, mechanics could focus all their new learning on one vehicle, and finance would have but one supplier to work with, and drivers could switch vehicle with no extra things to learn?

Maybe Tesla, after the Model 3, and after their new Roadster, would consider a custom Utility Van vehicle for service routes of up to 125 miles Radius (Total range of 250 miles), and work with fleets for Private Supercharger Site installs?

I still think the current Model S/X Skateboard and Battery/Drivetrain, could be Limo Stetched, and used as a base for: Limo’s, School Buses, Medium Haul Trucks (Cube Vans, etc.) of up to 10 Tons GVWR! As such it could carry about 2400 lbs of Battery, or 140 to 180+ in kWh! Imagine one of those accelerating 0 to 60 Mph in under 6 seconds!

The USPS currently uses small right-hand-drive jeeps and larger delivery vans for delivering mail. The jeeps, small vehicles, are a good fit to mailmen who deliver to mailboxes along the street. Vans are used for package delivery, and to deliver larger volumes of mail to businesses. (The USPS also contracts for people using their own cars for some rural delivery routes.)

There doesn’t seem to be any rational reason to try to combine the jeep and delivery van into a single vehicle when converting to EVs. The same requirements for delivery will exist after the conversion as before. So the USPS should be asking for designs for at least two mail delivery vehicles: Right-hand-drive jeeps, and larger delivery vans.

I used to work for a call center answering questions about U.S. mail. While that doesn’t give me the background (or expertise) on this issue that a mailman would have, I do at least know more than the average person about the subject.

Jeep? I thought it was a Grumman body…

This may be pedantic, but the original WW II army jeep was made by Willys.

I used “jeep” as a generic descriptive term, not the brand name “Jeep”.

Yes, the LLV (Long Life Vehicle) was developed by Grumman, in part at their Bethpage, NY location.
My uncle was involved with the project.

You are all correct actually. Willys built the first postal jeep, the flat-fendered DJ3A, in 1955. The next owner of Jeep, Kaiser Industries, sold the round-fendered DJ5 to USPS, starting in 1965 continuing through the 1970s. AMC even built a few hardtop CJ8 Scramblers for USPS in Alaska. But I digress. The Grumman LLV mini-box van replaced the DJ5 in 1987.

The Post Office version of the Jeep was called the DJ-5, and was made by Willys, and later by Kaiser Jeep (the guys who invented the Wagoneer) and finally by AM General, (the guys who built the Humvee). They stopped making them in the 80s and replaced them with the Grumman LLV, which is part Chevy S-10 truck.

Dan said: “The problem is that they [USPS] combined all of the needs/wants into a huge list of specs for one vehicle that did everything, which is tough for any company to meet, rather than split it into two or three vehicles classes.” I’m not buying that this is the biggest reason the Post Awful hasn’t converted wholesale to EV mail jeeps and trucks. Neither UPS nor FedEX have more than a relatively few EV delivery trucks, and that’s certainly not due to any bureaucratic inefficiency or resistance to change. Once the long-term overall TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) for EV delivery trucks dips below that for gas- or diesel-powered delivery trucks, you can be sure that UPS and FedEX will start converting their fleets. I would expect the USPS to lag behind, simply because it will take them longer to get their plans developed and approved by their Congressional oversight committee. Remember that these types of delivery vehicles, delivery jeeps and vans, are expected to last considerably longer than the typical passenger car. As I recall, USPS expects their vehicles to last 25-30 years, and about the same is true for UPS. Over that long a timescale, the vehicle… Read more »

Something tells me this guy just really really really wanted a Tesla. That makes sense, but a low left-hand-drive car doesn’t seem too practical for delivering mail. And they could have bought a cheap Prius which should cover that daily route with $6 of gas.

With the Prius, mail would be 2 days late.

With a Prius the mail would arrive the next year because of the repairs.

Left hand drive when delivering mail can be an issue if there are lots of things between the front seats such as shifter or huge console. The Model S has neither in the way. As for the vehicle being low, that would probably be more of a preference thing as there are lots of vehicles that could be considered too high as well. If we could afford one, I could see myself trying to talk my wife into using one for her route.

Open-Mind said:

“…a low left-hand-drive car doesn’t seem too practical for delivering mail.”

I didn’t watch the video; does the driver ever say he actually bought a Model S for the purpose of driving it on a rural mail delivery route?

My guess is that’s just a part-time job, and he uses his “daily driver” for it, which happens to be a Model S. He’s glad that it saves money on gas, but it seems rather counter-factual to claim that you could use a Tesla premium/luxury car to “save money” by using it to deliver mail! Sure, save money on gas… by piling up mileage on a ~$100,000 car. Even Tesla cars are gonna wear out eventually.

They must have a higher rate of pay up there for postal workers if you can employ a Tesla for a workhorse.

PP – Maybe it would help to watch the video before commenting.
I would think this is a full time job covering a 200km daily mail run.
When on rural mail runs it is common to cross the other side of the road to deliver the mail into the mail box from the drivers side.

Tesla does sell right hand drive cars

A lot of rural mail carriers buy their own vehicles because the payback was pretty good. Subaru used to allow special orders of their Outback wagon in 4wd and right-hand-drive for mail carriers, our mailman in Northern California had one, it was weird watching him drive from the right side of the car. (He used to drive a S-10 Blazer from the right seat with his left leg, that was even WEIRDER to see.)

Guy must be a nutcase. Wait till he gets a repair bill, or tries to sell his car. Depreciation alone will run him over.

Then add these other extras a month:
Registration fee: $50
Insurance cost : $100
Interest on loan: $200

Life is short. Enjoy the moment.

What on earth are you talking about?!?

N0 MODEL S FOR YOU , ROMNEY! 10 YRS!!!!!….L M A 0…..

I think this is the dirtiest Model S I’ve yet seen…

Can they have access to RHD Tesla for this specific duty?

Some of you are talking like you have no knowledge of the post office ising electric vehicles for mail delivery. The post office has tried an electric fleet many times. Plenty if times before most of us were born. This isn’t new. Check out their website on the history of evs and usps. https://about.usps.com/who-we-are/postal-history/electric-vehicles.pdf

Calling a few test vehicles, or a small number, over time, of unique individual vehicles, an “electric fleet”, seems to be a bit of a stretch.

The USPS’s nationwide fleet of postal delivery jeeps and trucks is very large. The number of electric trucks they’ve used for test cases is pretty small.

This can’t be cost effective…

124mi/day is a lot (presuming 5 days a week, that’s ~30K mi/year). While the drivetrain has the 8-yr unlimited-mile warranty, the rest of the car has a 50k-mi warranty, meaning it won’t even cover 2 years with this kind of use… Actually, IIRC the Tesla warranty doesn’t cover “commercial use” so I’m not sure it would apply.

Reliability of the EV drivetrain aside, all other systems (steering, suspension, braking, ancillary electric, infotainment wtc., accident body repair) aren’t different than other luxury vehicles’, and reportedly very expensive to maintain.

I suspect the car’s depreciation alone would make it iffy to justify on a cost basis alone, vs. a reliable, thrifty ICE van.

The whole story sounds very strange… I’d think he bought the car for personal use and mail delivery is just a part-time occupation he took on later, but a 124mi rural route has got to be 4-5hrs of driving a day. no? It’s not just mailboxes — many packages have to be signed for etc.

Tesla resale is quite strong – depreciation is the least of a Tesla owner’s concerns.

“In accordance with the provisions of Article 9, Section 2.J.3 of the Rural Carrier National Agreement, effective January 10, 2015 (pay period 03-15), the equipment maintenance allowance (EMA) will decrease to 69.5 cents per mile. The EMA is 69.5 cents per mile, or a minimum of $27.80 per day, whichever is greater.”


At 124 miles per day, that’s $86 in mileage reimbursement per day. At 260 working days per year, that’s $22,360 per year — which should be enough to cover depreciation, fuel, maintenance, etc., in the long run.


A postal carrier makes enough to afford a Model S?

I’m in the wrong business.

this is awesome!! And any1 with brains, a couple of bucks in the bank, and a CR of 750 or above can get a Tesla!!I’m a retired guy.. and I have a Tesla!! Leasing…but who knows.. with an 800 CR from keeping up with the lease.. I may buy one eventually… 2000 gas free miles and counting.. NO troubles…

all this prior BS about depreciation… once I car is depreciated.. it can’t depreciate anymore… so if Henry buys his car… runs it for 100,000 miles.. it’s depreciated.. if he runs it another 100,000.. it doesn’t depreciate any further … and if he never trades it in… what does it matter anyway? He skips all the ICE maintenance.. pays his electric bill and get his Tesla tuneup every year for $600… if he’s a smart boy.. he bought the extended warranty package along with the service pack… after that.. it’s just tires and a car wash between service visits.. a Prius?? You buy a Prius!!

Yep, that’s about the extent of it.

Tesla model 4 needs to be a light commercial vehicle and/or pickup truck. Probably could be both, just using different bodies.