The US Postal Service (USPS) has placed its initial order for 50,000 units of the Next Generation Delivery Vehicle (NGDV) made by Oshkosh Defense in a deal that's worth $2.98 billion.

A minimum of 10,019 vehicles (roughly 20%) of the first order will be battery electric vehicles (BEVs), double the earlier targeted EV fleet. Under USPS' initial plan, only about 10% of the NGDV fleet consisting of 165,000 vehicles was expected to be all-electric. 

Originally awarded in February 2021, the 10-year contract with Oshkosh Defense for the NGDV was criticized by the Biden Administration via the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for not being aggressive enough in terms of electrification. 

While under the revised plan USPS has doubled the share of EVs in its future fleet to 20%, the agency admitted that a 100% mix of BEVs would deliver even greater emission benefits. That said, the US Postal Service notes the program is designed to increase the mix of BEVs as financial resources become available. More specifically, the NGDV contract allows the flexibility, when funding is provided, to increase the percentage of BEVs to be produced even after an order is placed.

Gallery: Oshkosh Defense US Postal Service Delivery Truck

"Since I came on board a year and a half ago, we have continuously evaluated and adjusted our vehicle purchase strategy based on our future network initiatives, ongoing review of BEV application to our operational strategy, and our financial outlook as we undertake our ongoing implementation of the Delivering for America plan. Based upon this work and our improving outlook, we have determined that increasing our initial electric vehicle purchase from 5,000 to 10,019 makes good sense from an operational and financial perspective."

Postmaster General and USPS CEO Louis DeJoy

The executive added that the order placed with Oshkosh Defense order demonstrates that the Postal Service is fully committed to the inclusion of electric vehicles as a significant part of its delivery fleet, despite higher acquisition costs. DeJoy noted that USPS must make fiscally prudent decisions when introducing a new vehicle fleet, adding that the agency will continue to look for ways to increase the electrification of its delivery fleet.

"We will continue to look for opportunities to increase the electrification of our delivery fleet in a responsible manner, consistent with our operating strategy, the deployment of appropriate infrastructure, and our financial condition, which we expect to continue to improve as we pursue our plan."

Many of USPS' 190,000 delivery vehicles currently on the road are more than 30 years old and lack basic safety features which are standard in most vehicles today. 

Unlike the current Long Life Delivery Vehicles (LLV), the NGDV will feature air conditioning, improved ergonomics, increased cargo capacity, and more advanced vehicle and safety technology. Safety tech includes 360-degree cameras, advanced braking and traction control, air bags, a front-and rear-collision avoidance system that includes visual, audio warning, and automatic braking.

USPS expects to have the first NGDVs on carrier routes in late 2023.

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