Electric, compressed natural gas, flex fuel and hybrid vehicles are all in contention as the US Postal Service replaces its 25-year-old fleet with 180,000 new vehicles for an estimated $5-$6 billion as it seeks to cut emissions in half and adapt the fleet to the shifting delivery market.
Earlier this month, the agency announced the 15 vehicle makers pre-qualified to bid on a prototype for testing as it plans to upgrade its fleet over three years, with the first deliveries expected in 2018.
The candidates include giant car makers like Ford, Fiat Chrysler, and Nissan as well as Humvee manufacturer AM General and heavy-duty truck maker Freightliner. Related: How The Majors Are Playing The Oil Price Slump
But smaller companies, such as electric vehicle makers ZAP Jonway and Emerald Automotive, are also on the list, as well as AMP Holding, another EV maker that is pitching its integrated drones to USPS.
AMP noted in a press release that the average 15 miles a day of stop-and-go driving for the postal vehicles makes an electric vehicle “a perfect fit to the driving style,” along with the other benefits of low maintenance costs and reduced emissions.
The company said its trucks have the 150,000-mile range required for the postal vehicles and that its factory is capable of manufacturing the 60,000 vehicles per year that the contract would require.
Given the 20-year service life of the vehicles, AMP is urging the agency to consider its optional integrated HorseFly package delivery drone which would increase the number of packages the new trucks can deliver in a day. Related: Have Natural Gas Prices Bottomed?
The current post office fleet was purchased in the period 1988-93 and are not well adapted to the increased demand for package delivery resulting from online shopping. The new generation of trucks will require the standing room and shelving for packages like UPS and FedEx trucks. In addition, it will have safety features like ABS brakes missing on the older fleet but now standard for vehicles.
The long-life vehicles in the current fleet were assembled by Grumman, with the chassis, engine, and transmission supplied by General Motors.
The current bidding for the Next Generation Delivery Vehicle marks only the third time the Postal Service has renewed its fleet in its 45-year existence. Related: How To Spot An Undervalued Oil Company
ZAP Jonway said it has been working with the postal service for several years to see if the existing vehicles could be converted to an electric power train, but determined that purpose-built EVs would be a better solution.
ZAP, based in Santa Rosa, California, works with its majority-owned subsidiary Jonway Auto in China, which has a factory capable of producing 50,000 vehicles a year. The company sees its work on the USPS bid as a springboard for entering the clean energy fleet vehicle market in the US.
Emerald Automotive, based in the St. Louis suburb of Hazelwood, Mo., was acquired last year by the Chinese auto giant Geely, which also owns Volvo. The company intends to build a new assembly factory in the St. Louis area.
USPS is seeking to cut emissions in half as part of its effort to meet government-mandated sustainability targets.
By Darrell Delamaide of Oilprice.com
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