A new USPS truck on the road in Fresno, California, looks like a typical large urban mail truck, but it definitely sounds quieter. That’s because the truck is 100% electric. It’s part of a new pilot that will help the postal agency test the benefits of EVs in one of the most polluted parts of the country.
Electric trucks aren’t new for the agency, which first tested an electric vehicle in 1899. In 2001, USPS started using some electric trucks in New York City. (It uses other alternative-fuel vehicles, including some that run on ethanol, elsewhere.) But it’s only now that it’s becoming more likely that the organization could begin to make a bigger shift in its whole 200,000-truck fleet.
“I think that if you look at kind of why is now maybe an inflection point for the USPS–and for other fleets in adoption of electric–it’s because battery prices are coming down so substantially and the reliability and quality is going up so quickly, thanks to passenger EV adoption,” says Jim Castelaz, CEO of Motiv Power Systems, the California-based company that designed the electric chassis inside seven new vehicles in the USPS pilot. The pilot will eventually test 15 vehicles in total in both Fresno and Stockton, cities known for their terrible air quality.