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oshkosh electric vehicle USPS Oshkosh Defense
USPS Next Generation Delivery Vehicle, image courtesy of Oshkosh Defense

Clean Transport

Hey, USPS — Here’s 5 Reasons Gas-Powered Trucks Are A Stupid Idea

The decision to order tens of thousands of gasoline-powered vehicles for the USPS is wrong on so many levels.

There’s a hullabaloo brewing in America about the decision by the USPS to order up a fleet of next generation delivery vehicles powered by last century gasoline engines. A good part of the debate is focused on how Oshkosh Defense, the contractor selected by the USPS board of governors to manufacture the new vehicles, is running away from its union contracts in Wisconsin to a state that is a bastion of non-union animus. That’s politics, and if you lived in Oshkosh and saw your job being outsourced to South Carolina, you’d be pretty upset too.

But that’s not what is so galling about the decision Postmaster Generalissimo Louis Dejoy and his Republican lapdogs made to buy gas-powered trucks instead of EVs. Here are the real reasons why doing so is about as stupid as stupid gets.

1) Dead People Don’t Get Mail

Has Louis DeJoy ever read anything except a tweet by the Orange Ogre? Is he even literate? The latest IPCC 6, Phase 3 report is filled with words like “suicide.” The Earth is careening toward a situation where a significant number of humans will not be able to survive either because of extreme heat, drought, rising sea levels, or being machine gunned if they need to cross a national border to survive. There’s no debate. We must stop burning fossil fuels or die. Ordering a fleet of gas-sucking trucks that will be in service until 2050 is a horrible, wrong-headed, and stupid mistake. Anyone with the brain power of an overripe turnip knows we are in desperate climate trouble and shouldn’t be committing to more vehicles powered by internal combustion engines.

2) Electric USPS Trucks Cost Less

If the idea is to save the taxpayers and postal customers money, electric trucks are the way to go. Transport & Environment just proved it. EVs cost less to operate and maintain, which stands to reason, since a gasoline engine and an automatic transmission have about 10,000 moving parts, while an electric vehicle’s powertrain has less than 10.

Today, the Postal Service spends about $115 million dollars a year on gasoline. Think that’s a lot of money? It’s chicken feed compared to the more than $700 million a year it spends to keep its 30-year-old fleet of vehicles running. Between lower fuel costs and lower maintenance cost, electric trucks would pay for themselves in about 5 years. So why are we sentencing USPS to another 30 years of high gas and maintenance costs?

3) Electric USPS Trucks Emit No Emissions While Idling

Postal delivery vehicles spend a lot of time idling, either because they have to deal with stop and go traffic in congested areas or because they are waiting for the driver to fill the mailboxes along the route. Either way, they are spewing carbon dioxide and harmful pollutants like fine particulate matter in their wake wherever they drive. It’s wasteful, inefficient, and costly. It’s also bad for the people the Post Office serves and the letter carriers who handle the mail. So why do it?

4) $3 Billion Is A Small Price To Pay

The USPS says it would love to order more electric delivery trucks, but gosh darn it, they will cost about $3 billion more than gasoline powered vehicles. OK, that’s true. They will cost more upfront, but will save money during their useful service life (See 2 above). Three billion seems like a lot of money until you realize the United States spent $300 million a day in the Afghan war and did so for 20 years. To put this in perspective, the cost of electric vehicles for the Post Office would equal the cost of 10 days of war.

Especially now when the world has awoken from its long winter’s nap and realized that Pooty-Poot and Roosha can disrupt a world economy based on fossil fuels in a heartbeat, it makes no sense to commit to fossil-fueled vehicles for the next three decades.

5) Electric Vehicles Are Symbolic

Like it or not, people are influenced by the trappings of modern society they see every day, whether it’s homes, clothing, or vehicles. Seeing electric vehicles delivering the mail would send a powerful message to the country that the gasoline age is waning and the age of EVs is rising. Having primarily electric vehicles in the USPS fleet would let others know that EVs are not strange or weird. That sort of symbolism is important to the EV revolution.

The Takeaway

There’s a lot of thunder and lightning going on in the halls of Congress this week, led by the unions in Oshkosh who don’t want to see their jobs disappear. But the takeaway is that spending billions to purchase new gasoline-powered delivery vehicles for the Post Office is just bizarre. There is no way to justify that decision except to say the fix is in, led by fossil fuel companies who want to sell more gasoline, venal members of Congress who want to benefit from future campaign donations from an important defense contractor (that knows nothing about building these types of vehicles, by the way), and a desire by a company to run away from its commitments to its unionized workforce.

This whole deal stinks to high heaven of cronyism and greed, wrapped in a chimera of serving the public interest. This farce needs to be stopped and replaced with an order for modern, 21st century equipment that will serve the best interests of America and the world.

 
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Written By

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his homes in Florida and Connecticut or anywhere else the Singularity may lead him. You can follow him on Twitter but not on any social media platforms run by evil overlords like Facebook.

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