Over the last years the topic of hybrid electrical vehicles (HEV) and electric vehicles (EV) popped up with increasing frequency. And in various postal forums it was subsequently suggested that USPS also convert to HEVs or EVs. So we decided to dive in tad……

Let’s start with the basics. USPS has around 142000 Long Life Vehicles (LLV).
In 1996 USPS had already plans to test conversion of LLVs to electric drive.
In May-2006 the first mail-delivery van was converted to a HEV.

Apparently there is just a pilot project going on with 2 HEVs. We quote:
(click for full article)

The Azure product, a BalanceTM Hybrid Electric two-ton step van, will actively participate in the USPS fleet in Long Island, New York for a twelve month pilot program. The vehicle utilizes Azure Dynamics hybrid electric drive train on the Ford E-450 chassis with a Morgan Olson body. BoyerFord Truck Sales delivered the vehicle.

In May-27th 2009 the following article demonstrates more serious consideration of implementing a electrical vehicle fleet within USPS. We quote:
According to Michael Ravnitzky, who serves as staff assistant to Postal Regulatory Commissioner Ruth Goldway, the U.S.P.S. has a fleet totaling more than 200,00 vehicles, 142,000 of them dedicated to daily local mail delivery. Most of these Long Life Vehicles or LLVs are right-hand drive and were put into service between 1987 and 1994.

Michael Ravnitzky concludes:
(Click here for the full article)

Electrification of the Postal Service delivery vehicle fleet is practical, achievable and desirable, and should be initiated now. Though cost studies are essential, the case is obvious. As a government agency performing a constitutionally mandated critical public service, the Postal Service should be a first mover on electric drive vehicles, and the federal government should encourage and support that effort.

We like the PowerPoint presentation by Michael Ravnitzky which lays out the use of an electrical vehicle fleet not only as delivery vehicles but also use them to help regulate the electric power grid while the cars are being parked. This vehicle-to-grid service would bring in additional revenue for USPS.

European postal services are already using smaller amounts of electric vehicles and the Japan Postal Service is about to convert 25% of it’s vehicles. We quote:
(Click here for the full article)

The Japan Postal Service is currently converting 25 percent of its fleet of combustion engine vehicles to electric drive as part of a government push to accelerate demand for electric drive vehicles………convert a gasoline -powered truck to run entirely on electric drive. The real life data will be shared with other major users and potential customers of electric vehicles, including other postal fleets in Europe and the Americas.

Thumbs up to all involved for sharing the data of this major project.

Overall we believe that over time the Postal Services will use electrical vehicles for city routes with many frequent stops and hybrid electrical vehicles for lengthier routes. For us the question remains if makes sense to retrofit the LLVs. They are a kind of old and frame problems seem to develop. Is it time to stop whipping the dying horse and go with a brand new vehicle? That is a tough question. If the LLV frames need to be replaced then it may be better to buy a new HEV or EV vehicle. But LLVs located in dry climates will last quite a while longer. So for those it could make sense to retrofit them into HEV or EV vehicles.

Whilst we were digging around on the internet we found no reference that USPS is working with any universities pertaining to HEVs or EVs. Now we hope that we just missed the relevant info and that USPS does in fact already work with several universities on projects to convert LLVs into HEVs or EVs.  Otherwise we like to kindly suggest that USPS initiates research programs with interested universities  and donates some LLVs . Sounds like a win-win situation to us.

Here a random list of research institutes where fine young talent works on HEV/EV projects:

Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle Research
Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT)

Electric Vehicle Research Institute at the University of Oklahoma

Hybrid & Hydrogen Vehicle Research Laboratory
Pennsylvania State University

MIT Electric Vehicle Team (EVT)

We apologize to all other research teams we have not listed.