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USPS Takes a Detour on Oshkosh BEV Plan, Awarding Ford a Contract

March 1, 2023
The automaker’s Kansas City plant will manufacture 9,250 electrified delivery vehicles, to be delivered by year’s end.
The United States Postal Service announced yesterday that it will purchase 9,250 Ford E-Transits off the shelf as part of its plan to electrify its vehicle fleet.

The announcement, while not unexpected, is a departure from USPS’s original plan, announced in early 2021, to award Oshkosh Defense a contract to manufacture USPS vehicles, both gas-powered and electric. Under the original contract, only 10% of these vehicles were designated electric, and 90% gas-powered. 

Gas-Powered Pushback

Pushback from environmental organizations and some members of Congress gradually increased that percentage. The Inflation Reduction Act designated $3 billion for USPS electrification.  Now, USPS plans for 75% of new vehicles delivered by 2026 to be electric, and 100% of the vehicles delivered from 2027. Concerns about scaling up the number of electric vehicles so quickly pushed USPS to buy 21,000 "commercial off-the-shelf" EVs. It made that announcement in December 2022. USPS plans to purchase at least 45,000 electric and 15,000 gas-powered vehicles from Oshkosh.

Of the 106,000 total vehicles USPS plans to add fleet, 66,000 are now designated battery-electric vehicles. 

14,000 Charging Stations

Yesterday's announcement also calls for USPS to purchase charging infrastructure, including 14,000 EV charging stations. Blink Charging Co., Siemens Industry Inc. and Rexel USA Energy solutions won those contracts, totaling $260 million. The charging stations are expected to be installed in at least 75 USPS locations in the next year. The current total expected USPS investment in new vehicles and charging infrastructure, including the $3 billion from the IRA, is $9.6 billion.  

UAW Lawsuit 

Oshkosh faced a lawsuit from the United Auto Workers union and the National Resources Defense Council in April contending that Oshkosh’s Environmental Impact Statement was incomplete, stating only the impact of operating the vehicles, not manufacturing them. To scale up in time, Oshkosh planned to manufacture some vehicles in a repurposed non-union facility in South Carolina. The Ford E-Transits are manufactured at Ford's plant in Kansas City, Missouri, and are expected to start shipping in December 2023.

USPS also recently announced plans to buy 9,250 gas-powered vans from automaker Stellantis, which are expected to start shipping in November 2023.

—Laura Putre

This article first appeared in T&D World's sister publication, Industry Week.

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