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USPS Tries Out the First of 7 All-New Electric Delivery Vans

USPS Tries Out the First of 7 All-New Electric Delivery Vans

Author: Mia Bevacqua   

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) currently has a fleet of around 190,000 vehicles. Of those, 142,000 are long life vehicles that have been around since 1986 and average less than 10 mpg. Indeed, it's time for a change – and Motiv Power Systems may have an answer. Last week, the company delivered the first of seven all-electric vehicles it will supply to the USPS.

Motiv electric USPS vans deploy in California

The pilot program, which is being deployed in California's central valley, is funded through a California Air Resource Board (CARB) award to the San Joaquin Air Quality Control. CALSTART and the San Joaquin Clean Transportation Center partnered together to spur acquisition of the vans. The first delivery truck will be making its rounds through Fresno.

Motiv builds what it calls an Electrified Powered Intelligent Chassis (EPIC) that can serve as a foundation for a variety of body configurations (i.e., box truck, school bus, etc.). The USPS truck uses a version of the EPIC platform based on a Ford E-450.

Mechanical specifications for the postal van are not available in the press release. But according to general information on Motiv's website, the EPIC platform is powered by a six-phase permanent magnet synchronous AC motor. An adaptive power converter is onboard to keep the battery balanced; there's regenerative braking and an adaptable connector capable of supporting 25 kW charging. The rear-wheel drive platform can accommodate various battery designs.

The Motiv website also lists specifications for the company's Step Van body that the USPS vehicle appears to use. Highlights include a 22,000 lbs. GVWR chassis rating, a range up to 90 miles and a top speed of up to 60 mph. Furthermore, the layout can accept either a 106 kWh or 127 kWh battery pack.

A long history of electric postal vehicles  

The Motiv van is just one of many electric postal vehicles tried over the years. Mail delivery via electric car began in 1899 when a Columbia automobile was tested on a New York City route. Shortly after, a Cleveland-based letter carrier tried out a Winton Electric Automobile. The car completed a 22-mile delivery route in a little under two and a half hours; a horse and wagon usually took six hours.

More recently, the USPS tested electrified versions of its classic Long Life Vehicle (LLV). The well-known, box-shaped van traded in its inefficient "Iron Duke" four-cylinder for an all-electric drivetrain. Also, since 2001, the USPS has operated 30 electric two-ton vehicles on the streets of New York City. Nearby, New Jersey operates two-ton hybrid mail delivery trucks.

"We're proud to now be a part of USPS' long tradition of implementing the latest technology to green their fleet," said Motiv CEO Jim Castelaz. "Our all-electric EPIC chassis have accumulated 500,000 real-world miles and are ideally suited to the USPS vehicle route characteristics. We're thrilled that USPS has chosen Motiv to help meet their sustainability goals."

Naturally, the vans from Motiv are expected to be more efficient than the current, internal combustion-powered postal trucks. Having the USPS further electrify its fleet is a step in the right direction.

Sources: Motiv, USPS Office of Inspector General, USPS

 

Mia Bevacqua
Mia Bevacqua
Mia is an ASE Certified Master Automobile Technician, L1, L2 and L3 Advanced Level Specialist. She has over 12 years of experience in the automotive industry and a bachelor’s degree in automotive technology. These skills have been applied toward content writing, technical writing, inspections, consulting, automotive software engineering.
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