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Postal Service plans more life for its vehicles

By Staff | Oct 11, 2010

Most of the U.S. Postal Service’s 142,000 Long Life Delivery Vehicles have been in service 20-24 years. But replacing the fleet is a significant investment. Until the Postal Service decides what kind of vehicles will best serve its growing base of customers – at the lowest cost – USPS is taking a series of steps to extend the lives of its current vehicles.

USPS has awarded contracts to five companies to develop a battery for an electric-powered light delivery vehicle. These vendors will use current vehicles as the base and convert them to electric power. Prototype vehicles from all five companies are scheduled to arrive in August. The Postal Service will spend the next year testing them in and around the Washington, DC, metropolitan area.

Vehicle technology continues to evolve, including the use of alternative fuels. In addition to battery power, USPS is evaluating a number of other fuels including compressed natural gas, propane, E -85, diesel and hydrogen fuel cell. There are plenty of options and finding the best solution will require careful analysis to make sure the best vehicle is selected.

Reducing energy use is one of the Postal Service’s major sustainability goals. Around the country, USPS is making excellent progress to reach that goal compared to a year ago, officials say. Fuel consumption for USPS-owned vehicles has decreased 3.7 percent, or 2.6 million gallons.