The U.S. Postal Service indicated it will order more zero-emission battery electric vehicles than originally planned as part of the Next Generation Delivery Vehicles fleet to be produced in Spartanburg County starting next year.
According to a press release, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said the USPS will soon publish a notice that its efforts to modernize the delivery network could lead to a higher percentage of its new fleet to be battery-electric vehicles — as opposed to gas-powered vehicles that environmental groups have opposed.
Earlier this year, the White House Council on Environmental Quality raised concerns that only 10% of the new fleet is contractually required to be electric.
Oshkosh wins contact, picks Spartanburg
Last February, the Postal Service announced it signed a contract with Oshkosh Defense of Wisconsin to produce its Next Generation Delivery Vehicle fleet of up to 165,000 vehicles.
The contract calls for at least 10% of the fleet to be electric, although the first order of 50,000 vehicles calls for 20% (10,019) of the vehicles to be electric.
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Last June, Oshkosh Defense announced it selected Spartanburg County for the project, saying it will invest $155 million and create more than 1,000 jobs at the former Rite-Aid distribution center at Flatwood Industrial Park.
Production is scheduled to start in the summer 2023, with new fleet vehicles expected to be on Postal Service Routes in late 2023.
Oshkosh Defense spokesperson Alexandra Hittle said Monday any change in the percentage of electric vehicles to be built will not affect its production schedule.
“Facility preparations in Spartanburg are well underway to ensure Oshkosh will meet contractual deadlines for vehicle deliveries to the Postal Service in 2023,” Hittle said.
“Under the NGDV contract, Oshkosh can produce any mix of battery electric vehicles and low-emission internal combustion engine vehicles – up to 100% battery electric – that the USPS wants,” Hittle added.
Britt: ‘A testament to confidence’
Spartanburg County Councilman David Britt, who helped recruit the Oshkosh Defense project, said he considers the latest Postal Service statement “a testament to the confidence the USPS has in Oshkosh Defense’s ability to deliver whatever they decide to build for the USA.
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“Under the NGDV contract, Oshkosh can produce any mix of (electric) and (gas-powered) vehicles, up to 100% battery electric if that is what the USPS wants,” Britt said.
Britt said Oshkosh Defense remains on track to start production at the Spartanburg plant next year, “and will be ready for any volume mix the U.S. Postal Service requires. Their processes are designed to be flexible into the future so that as needs change, their mix can change with their needs.”
Postal Service planning to streamline
According to DeJoy, the Postal Service plans to combine much of its delivery operations into sort and delivery centers, with modern building systems, adequate space and handling equipment to operate more efficiently.
“As I noted when we placed our initial NGDV delivery order, the Postal Service would continue to look for opportunities to increase the electrification of our fleet in a responsible manner, as we continue to refine our operating strategy and implement the Delivering for America Plan,” DeJoy stated.
By streamlining operations, fewer facilities with charging stations will be needed and “will allow postal delivery routes to be revamped to make them more efficient and cost-effective,” according to the USPS press release.
“The Postal Service also intends to explore options for accelerating the production of the initial 10,019 battery electric vehicles toward the front end of the production line, and anticipates taking advantage of the flexibility built into the contract with Oshkosh Defense to increase the number of BEVs purchased in the initial delivery order,” the press release states.
Contact Bob Montgomery at [email protected]. Please support our coverage of Spartanburg County with a digital subscription.
This article originally appeared on Herald-Journal: USPS may seek more electric vehicles from Spartanburg facility