Ford Delivers Electric Vehicles To USPS

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Electric Postal Truck
Ford’s Electric Postal Vehicle

Power generating capacity in California may be inadequate during peak daytime loads, but in the dead of night it’s a different story altogether. Using rough numbers, California possesses about 50,000 megawatts of generating capacity, and over half comes from power plants that aren’t turned off at night, but we only use about 15,000 megawatts at night. What should we do with the extra power?

How about use it to charge up Electric Vehicles. If the charging electricity comes off the power grid in the wee hours of the morning when there is excess power with no place to go, then we’re using energy that might have been wasted.

This is the logic that brought the U.S. Post Office, Ford Motor Company, and a host of public and private partners together recently to bring electric vehicles into service in California. On Friday, April 20th, on the west steps of the State Capitol in Sacramento, the first of 500 mail trucks were delivered, powered by batteries and propelled by electric motors.

Electric vehicles that run on battery power can compete economically with conventional vehicles in certain niches, and Postal Service vehicles are a perfect example. The typical postal carrier route is 25 miles, and the vehicles delivered on April 19th have a range, fully loaded, of 40 miles. As such they remain practical in spite of having a very short range compared to typical gas powered vehicles. The advantages of electric vehicles are many: They are quiet, they are pollution-free, and they don’t consume energy when parked. Postal delivery requires frequent starts and stops, which creates much more fuel consumption and pollution in gasoline powered vehicles.

Ford Motor CompanyWhile the cost of these vehicles, $42,000, is nearly twice that of a standard gasoline engine vehicle, there are savings on maintenance that can bring the lifetime costs for the vehicles to near parity. The average postal route requires 400 stops per day, creating a high degree of maintenance requirements for a vehicle with a gasoline engine. The electric engine requires no transmission, has far fewer moving parts, and even with the high demands placed on it as a Postal Vehicle only requires minimal maintenance every 50,000 miles. The Postal Service estimates that maintenance and fuel costs per mile over 100,000 miles are $.22 per mile for a gasoline powered vehicle, and $.08 per mile for an electric vehicle, a savings of $14,000 per 100,000 miles driven.

The U.S. Postal Service, with over 200,000 vehicles in its nationwide fleet, has the potential to make a major impact on mobile source emissions. Their plan is to replace their gasoline-powered vehicles with alternative fuel vehicles as they are retired. By 2002 the U.S. Postal Service hopes to have 5,500 electric vehicles in its California fleet. The total pollution created by an electric vehicle is only 3% of that created by a gasoline powered vehicle.

United States Postal Office LogoThe Post Office employees invited the press to test drive these vehicles and I didn’t hesitate. They actually let me drive off the capitol lawn and onto the streets of downtown Sacramento. The real adjustment wasn’t the motor, it was driving a car with the driver’s seat on the right side of the cab, and getting used to maneuvering a large truck in traffic. Once I got onto a straightaway, however, I was able to test the acceleration. At the first green light I floored the accelerator and noted the response. The truck was a little slow off the line, but unlike a gas powered car, suddenly picked up speed rapidly from 10 to 30 MPH. I prudently eased off once the speedometer hit about 35 MPH, but the vehicle definitely had power to spare. The wierdest thing was the noise – there wasn’t any.

One of the biggest concerns about electric vehicles is the cost of the batteries. The Ford vehicles use relatively conventional lead-acid batteries, with a life of 5-7 years. After replacement, the used batteries have a secondary market value where they can be used an additional 10-15 years. While battery recycling is commonplace and will certainly be practiced by the U.S. Post Office, the fact remains that batteries do not have the capacity to fuel electric vehicles for long trips. For electric vehicles to replace the gasoline powered vehicle in all applications, either batteries will have to be developed with far greater storage capacity, or be replaced with fuel cells, which themselves still require technological leaps to be economical.

But to fulfill the requirements of the U.S. Post Office, electric vehicles are economical and earth-friendly. They are an appropriate and commendable solution.

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5 Responses to “Ford Delivers Electric Vehicles To USPS”
  1. Dear Bloggers:

    The answer to OPEC is the electric vehicles at

    What we need is an International Public Prosecutor Intervention.

    Thank you.


    Basil Dimitropoulos
    Electrical Engineer
    104 – 106 Kremou Street, Kallithea, Athens 176-76 GREECE
    TEL: +30-210-9590530

  2. Dave says:


    I’m really starting to like your articles. You hit on one of my favorite topics with electric vehicles. There are a number of manufactures of electric vehicles in the U.S., and the rest of the world. In fact, a little known item, is that many decades ago electric vehicles were manufactured in greater numbers than gas vehicles in the U.S. An electric vehicle with a single (be it large) battery still exists today with the battery being made by none other than Thomas Edison. Miles electric vehicles in the U.S. has been around for quite awhile, and with upstarts such as Aptera, Zap, Telsa, and ZENN (out of Canada) there is an electric (pun intended) future for the EV.

    EEstor, which is an up and coming company has developed an ultra capacitor unit (link: that has the benefits of discharging/recharging amps quickly as you can ask/feed it. The technology is being developed behind closed doors for the most part, and Lockheed (if memory serves me right) bought the future rights to use this tech for military applications. ZENN motors from Canada has bought the right to use the tech with ‘light’ cars.

    EEstor’s design uses a matrix of capacitors vs the traditional electro chemical soup (lithium or lead acid). The technology and miniaturization are being developed by a lot of the same people who brought us the revolution in hard drives for computers.

    Food for thought: I am an economics guy at heart, and have been asked about the future direction of our economy by those I work with. My answer is as follows, and I am curious to what your opinion would be::: President elect Obama sits has been given an opportunity to do something really great with this country. Where most see only a crumbling society, and a decaying economic model, I see something very different. Here it is: GM, Ford, Chrysler are asking for a few billion. Rather than just giving these companies this money, it should be given with the caveat that it will be used to restore the U.S. to manufacturing dominance in the world. The big three should be forced (if they are to accept the loan) to work with EEstor, and companies like EEstor to build forward thinking vehicles. This would provide a new industry, while at the same time putting the U.S. at the forefront of an existing industry – autos. It would provide 10s of thousands of jobs, prevent 100s of billions yearly from going overseas (to buy oil), deny terrorists money to use against us, provide added capital to our electric utility companies which would stabilize our grid (also would provide for further infrastructure development of the grid) and keep energy dollars in the U.S., and lastly clean up the environment. Systems like EEstor do not have the pollution foot print that normal lead acid batteries do.

    There would of course be added tax revenue to fed and state levels due to $ being spent in the U.S. vs overseas for energy, the aforementioned development of new technologies (income tax from the creation of jobs), and taxes on sales of equipment and retail sales associated with the new industry.

    p.s….perhaps it could give us the $ to fund those pensions.



  3. Fernando says:

    it is about time we use the technology that we refused in the 1970′s when automobile industires decided that we rather use gasoline engines than elctrical ones, the excuse used to be that we didn’t have the technology to deal with the residual that comes from the lectromanetic engines but now we do, I really hope that this is the beggining of the new electromnectic era that’s been held by this companies that are manipulating the goverment with massive losses, making it difficult for this technologyto summerge, Ford has a history of electric vehicles already and I hope they can come back to be number one again in the automobile industry as it was years ago, we can not let this foreign-automibile industries take the lead and therefore allow the significant amount of jobs that can stay in america to also help with the economy, perhaps the government should also put enphasis in allowing the national based companies to push the economy that way the implementation of this new technology that will help economy and the enviroment at the same time, is an idea that all the green based companies should consider from now on.

  4. j montoya says:

    can the public buy this mail delivery truck if so do the sale the older ones ? i deliver news paper i think this small delivery truck / vans will make my job much easier pf u have any info plz let me know


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