Thursday, December 11, 2008

USPS Should Embrace Electric Vehicles.

As posted before, the United States Postal Service has been required to use so called Flex-Fuel vehicles even in places where E85 is not available. There is an interesting report on various trials of alternative-fuel vehicles available on the web at http://www.govenergy.com/2007/pdfs/strategy/Rios_Strategy_track_S8.pdf.

On the face of it, local mail delivery is an ideal application for electric vehicles. The USPS calls the current vehicles LLVs or Long Life Vehicles. They average just 16 miles per day and do about 10 miles to the gallon. True to their name, the average age is about 16 years, but as there are 140,000 of them this still implies that they get replaced at about 9,000 a year. Also, since the fleet comprises only a few different vehicle types, and since they typically get through a couple of engines and transmissions during their lives, a mass retrofit might be feasible.

Electric vehicles seem well suited to a number of local delivery jobs, and also maintenance vans which may do few miles and spend most of their lives waiting at worksites. In London I noticed that stores like Tesco used electric delivery vehicles, which are readily available in Europe.

The USPS last tested pure electric vehicles, supplied by Ford, in 2001. It is not clear why they did not expand the program, as the vehicles seem to have performed well. They said they were unsure of long-term battery viability, but that surely is changed by the availability of lithium ion technology.

So, how about it, USPS?

1 comment:

Manfred KISSLING said...

Tony,

Can you point to me for a reliable source of information where I can find benchmark costs for hydrogen, plug-in-hybrids and EV's?

Best regards,
Manfred Kissling
mkissling@obsamericas.com