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New mail trucks don’t deliver, as EPA calls for investigation

The pending new U.S. Postal Service mail trucks, manufactured by Oshkosh Defense, are stuck in neutral—again.

After years of negotiation, the U.S Postal Service and Oshkosh Defense reached an estimated $6 billion contract in 2021. But it’s now being questioned by the Environmental Protection Agency.

A letter this week complains about the poor fuel economy of the proposed mail truck replacement and urges the Postal Service to “not proceed to a decision.”

According to reports, the move is considered a push by the Biden administration to reallocate the projected $6 billion replacement cost of the Postal Service’s fleet toward new vehicles that offer significant improvement in fuel economy and air quality.

The letter argues the current Oshkosh Defense deal does not satisfy the requirements.

The EPA claims the Oshkosh replacement vehicle only offers a “0.4-mile-per-gallon fuel economy improvement over the agency’s current fleet.”

The current fleet is 30 years old and lacks basic niceties such as air conditioning. The letter also complains only 10 percent of the new vehicle fleet is contracted to be fully electric.

According to the Washington Post: “The new, gas-powered trucks would be air-conditioned—much to the delight of letter carriers nationwide—but with the air conditioning running, they would average just 8.6 mpg.”

Electric vehicle experts said the industry standard for a gasoline-powered fleet vehicle is between 12 and 14 mpg.

The EPA also claims the acquisition process that awarded Oshkosh the Postal Service deal was seriously flawed.



More than a dozen major complaints were outlined in the lengthy letter, including:

  • The deal did not follow the appropriate process outlined by the National Environmental Policy Act and was awarded prior to the review process outlined by NEPA;
  • The Postal Service “executed a contract, including the award of $482 million, before any analysis of the environmental impacts of the project as required by NEPA,”;
  • The contract’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) left out critical information and underestimated greenhouse gas emissions from its new ICE vehicles, while overestimating emissions from BEVs [battery electric vehicles], compared to EPA analysis which was provided to the Postal Service.
  • The Postal Service’s analysis showed nearly 95 percent of mail carrier routes could be electrified, but only allocated 10 percent of electrified vehicles.

The Washington Post reports the EPA has been facing pressure to block the Postal Service’s allocation for weeks but opted not to go through the federal government to challenge the proposal, at least so far.

The letter is an open call to the Postal Service, which operates independently of Biden’s executive branch of the government, to reconsider its current deal, with the implication that the funding is now in jeopardy.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has rebuffed previous calls for the agency to rethink its plans.

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Going postal: Future of U.S. mail delivery trucks delayed
New U.S. Postal “duck truck” will deliver in safety and style

James Raia, a syndicated columnist in Sacramento, California, publishes a free weekly automotive podcast and electronic newsletter. Sign-ups are available on his website, www.theweeklydriver.com. He can be reached via email: james@jamesraia.com.

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Lee Coye
7 months ago

Well, here’s the problem. If the contract’s signed, at the very least the earnest money, almost half a billion, is gone, not to mention the payout of a lawsuit they’re certain to lose. That’s a couple years more of the current vehicles.

THEN, they’ll have to put the new contract out for bid, as the law requires, evaluate each bidder for diversity, limit it to what WILL unquestionably be a higher ask for lower mpg and/or EV tech, on top of infrastructure for that tech, because every company bidding will know they don’t have to compete with their established gas competitors.

Then, they’ll have to pay that significantly higher price, then maybe the green fleet will start trickling out. Have fun with that in the northern states, where charges last half the time or less in winter months.

This change will cost the taxpayer at least the original 6bn plus whatever the new contract will cost, likely twice that. But hey, it ain’t their money, and what are you gonna do about it?

Herden
7 months ago

It’s the government, they are not even capable of filling their own rules.

What’s the government’s job?

To screw it up, AND THEY’RE GOOD AT IT!

Al H.
7 months ago

Guys, guys, you’re missing the point! If you can burden any enterprise with enough regulations, you can either control or eliminate it, as your narrative requires. Consider what we’ve done with manufacturing! In the case of the Post Office, clearly the objective is to axe it altogether. Look at the savings! Look at the benefits to the planet! No staff, no infrastructure, no vehicles, no pollution. The savings in huggable trees, alone, is enormous! Besides, by forcing all communications to become digital, you always have the option of flipping the switch, turning-off the internet, instantly returning us all to the glorious days of the Middle Ages! (China and a few other outliers may choose not to participate.)

MailmanDan
7 months ago

As a mail carrier who drives a 30+ year old LLV, that is in the mechanics shop more than on my route, I can say with absolute certainty, we need new delivery vehicles ASAP. The process that they are going through is pure bureaucratic nonsense. There are better suited, more cost effective “off the shelf” vehicles that are currently produced and available, that could easily be upfitted to meet our needs. If these NGDV’s are ever rolled out, I guarantee they will not fair very well through the first winter, in any region that receives regular snowfall. Although the LLV is aged and has become unreliable, they have endured 30+ years of all-weather abuse, 6-7 days per week, which is actually very impressive. As for mpg’s, “my” LLV averages around 9mpg on my 32 mile route. No ICE vehicle is going to get “good” mileage while driving box to box all day. EV’s, although great in theory, would also require a major infrastructure investment by the USPS, to install charging stations at every P.O.

Dex
7 months ago
Reply to  MailmanDan

I agree 100%. How is an electric vehicle going to run 12 hours a day at 50 to 100 miles without significant charge time? Not to mention the costly infrastructure of electric charging stations? EPA my a$$.

Doge
7 months ago
Reply to  Dex

Full electric would be a good idea in denser cities. My route averages 9 miles a day driven since most of it is apartments and I’m in the suburbs. Larger cities carriers probably don’t even drive as much as I do.

TerryH Skeptic(??)
6 months ago
Reply to  Dex

and then ICE STORM HITS ONE AFTER NOON, WHEN all batteries depleted and then batteries freeze and no mail deliveries by EV for a month as they replace batteries? OK, so I exaggerate a bit, but you get the idea, as they ty to tow in Dead EVs w/ EVs? Yeah, right= NOT?

Tim
7 months ago
Reply to  MailmanDan

I’m a carrier currently driving an upfitted, “off the shelf” dodge and it’s in the shop as often as the 30 year old LLV’s, these are just not built for the abuse. I also drive an EV to work, in freezing temps and deep snow, it’s the best vehicle I’ve ever owned, I’m convinced this is the way the USPS, and every other delivery service will go as it makes sense when all vehicles are sitting overnight, where they can slowly charge on inexpensive level 2 chargers, during the least demanding time for energy use.

Matt
7 months ago

In the article you are showing a picture of the Workhorse BEV prototype! You should give them credit.

Oshkosh did not submit a prototype of the truck they proposed for the USPS contract. Their proposal was a slightly modified Diesel Ford Transit.

Last edited 7 months ago by RV Staff
Bob p
7 months ago
Reply to  Matt

With that huge windshield it better have super A/C, why does it have to be that big? That’s like sitting behind a magnifying glass in the hot southern sun.

Banks
7 months ago

There needs to be higher clearance for areas that get tons of snow. The fact it has low clearance and is being pushed for electric puts the letter carrier at risk and makes it hard to do their jobs.

BILLY Bob Thronton
7 months ago

The EPA has no authority. Only Congress has jurisdiction with recommendations from the EPA. They are an out of control agency with no constitutional right of enforcement.

They need to be reined in, and schooled on just who has the authority, as granted by the US Constitution.

Want proff read the enabling act when the EPA was granted Authority status back in the early eighties. They have absolutely no jurisdiction.

Bob M
7 months ago

Democrats promised to get rid of DeJoy, but a year later he’s still there screwing mail service. I have missed mail delivered four days so far this year. Better fuel economy should have been a priority. Especially with the US mail being in trouble financially. Seems like these trucks were designed to skirt our regulations. The gas mileage only meets the regulation by a drop otherwise. Would have been required better fuel economy.

James
7 months ago
Reply to  Bob M

The profile for mpgs used by EPA to rate vehicles doesn’t reflect the driving profile of the post office. Idling and low speed the mpgs of this truck are fine. But the shape of the front is not suited for high speed mpgs. If you want to see out so you don’t hit pedestrian you have a big front window and short nose. Those things are not very aerodynamic.

Dex
7 months ago
Reply to  James

Absolutely 💯 correct. EPA never considers hundred of stops and starts to affect gas mileage.

Bob p
7 months ago
Reply to  James

Aerodynamics don’t come into play below 55mph, weight and driving style govern mpg at the speed of mail trucks. Our letter carrier in TN drove her private KIA SOUL and only got 11mpg stopping and starting every 100 feet mail box to mail box. It was also worn out in 4 years with 50+ thousand miles.

Dex
7 months ago
Reply to  Bob M

DeJoy has nothing to-do with your mail not being delivered. USPS can’t find people to work. Hence many carriers are working 6/7 days a week just to keep up. It’s a pipe dream to have “better gas mileage” when you actually understand how mail delivery is conducted. Liberalism destroys EVERYTHING…always.

Bill
7 months ago

I hope that wasn’t RVT’s captioning under the 1st pic in this article!
Anyways, Thanks for the update. The EPA finally is doing its job…

BILLY Bob Thronton
7 months ago
Reply to  Bill

EPA has no authority, it has agency status only. Words have meaning.

Admin
RV Staff(@rvstaff)
7 months ago
Reply to  Bill

Thanks, Bill. Sheesh! Bad night for my proofreading, eh? Actually, that caption was from the author. When I proof something the “featured image” (at the top of the post) doesn’t show up on the version I’m proofing. I didn’t go into “View” mode to see that image and the caption, unfortunately. I think I’ve “interpreted” it and changed it to the way the author intended. Gave it my best guess, anyway. 😆 Have a great day! 😀 –Diane

Matt
7 months ago
Reply to  RV Staff

The second picture is of the BEV prototype submitted by Workhorse Group, that is not a picture of an Oshkosh truck.

Admin
RV Staff(@rvstaff)
7 months ago
Reply to  Matt

Thanks, Matt. I didn’t put the pictures in there, or identify them. That would have been James Raia. (All I did was unscramble some typos under the top picture.) Sorry. –Diane

Admin
RV Staff(@rvstaff)
7 months ago
Reply to  Bill

Someone just flagged this comment, Bill, as “containing dangerous information.” I think they clicked on the wrong comment to flag. 😆 –Diane

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