The United States Postal Service announced the purchase of 9,250 electric vehicles and 14,000 charging stations on Wednesday as the Biden administration continues efforts to phase internal combustion vehicles out of the federal fleet.
Officials unveiled the move as an early stage of a broader electrification strategy that will involve the purchase of 66,000 electric vehicles by 2028. The agency also awarded contracts for 9,250 conventional internal combustion vehicles due to the urgent need for new equipment.
“We are moving forward with our plans to simultaneously improve our service, reduce our cost, grow our revenue, and improve the working environment for our employees. Electrification of our vehicle fleet is now an important component of these initiatives,” Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said in a statement. “We have developed a strategy that mitigates both cost and risk of deployment, which enable execution on this initiative to begin now.”
The total investment in the electrification program is slated to reach $9.6 billion, which includes roughly $3 billion from the Inflation Reduction Act. A previous statement from the White House said that roughly three-quarters of the agency’s Next Generation Delivery Vehicles will therefore run on batteries instead of internal combustion engines.
The Biden administration has established the goal of procuring only 100% zero-emission light-duty vehicles by 2027 and will extend the same standard to all vehicles in the federal fleet by 2035, according to a document from the White House.
The purchase of electric vehicles by the Postal Service follows a similar initiative led by Vice President Kamala Harris to electrify the nation’s school buses. The project will use nearly $1 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for rebates awarded to school districts that buy the vehicles, while the White House plans to spend a total of $5 billion on the program.
Policy under the Biden administration has indeed favored nascent electric vehicle technology. Individuals who purchase certain electric cars can receive tax credits between $4,000 and $7,500 under the Inflation Reduction Act. “The climate crisis doesn’t care if your state is red or blue. It is an existential threat,” President Joe Biden commented during his recent State of the Union address. “We have an obligation to our children and grandchildren to confront it. I’m proud of how America is at last stepping up to the challenge.”
The state governments of California, Massachusetts, Washington, and Virginia have meanwhile subscribed to new rules from the California Air Resources Board requiring 35% of new vehicles to produce zero emissions by 2026, a standard that will progressively rise to 100% by 2035. The Biden administration has likewise set the “ambitious target” of ensuring that electric vehicles constitute 50% of car sales in the United States by 2030.
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Researchers have nevertheless said that the electric grids in California and elsewhere will require significant upgrades before a rapid transition away from internal combustion vehicles can occur. “Today, most people charge their electric cars when they come home in the evening,” according to a report from Cornell University. “If left unmanaged, the power demanded from many electric vehicles charging simultaneously in the evening will amplify existing peak loads, potentially outstripping the grid’s current capacity to meet demand.”