USPS may buy 20,000 Hybrid and Electric Vehicles

By John Addison (2/15/10)

Most of the 220,000 U.S. Postal Service vehicles only travel 20 to 25 miles per day making them a good match with the range of an electric vehicle. Hundreds of stops make hybrids and electrics ideal for capturing braking energy and regenerating the batteries.

Instead most USPS vehicles run on gasoline, increasing our nation’s dependency on oil. The popular mid-sized delivery vans achieve about 10 mpg. The 40,000 that sometimes run on E85 ethanol do worse. The Postal Service generates over 5 million tons of CO2 per year, only 12 percent of that is from its 220,000 on-road vehicles.

A Winton electric automobile was first used by the Postal Service in 1899. It only took an hour-and-a-half to collect mail from 40 boxes, less than half the time it took the horse-powered wagon. Over the years, USPS has used a variety of hybrid and electric vehicles.

No one type of vehicle meets all delivery needs. Jets and long-haul trucks move mail across the nation and around the world. Many delivery routes demand larger delivery vans. Others are best served by smaller and lighter vehicles.

Mail is being delivered on a trial basis by three-wheel electric vehicles in Florida, California and Arizona. The T3 has a range of 40 miles, a maximum speed of 12 mph and a load capacity of 450 pounds. Powered by two rechargeable power modules, the T3 has zero gas emissions and costs 4 cents a mile to operate.

The Postal Service is testing a fourth generation fuel-cell Chevrolet Equinox. The crossover vehicle has an electric drive system, lithium batteries, and a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle to keep delivering electrons for extended range. When I visit my alma mater in Irvine, I see the Equinox used to deliver mail. The Irvine hydrogen station is used by the University, corporations, the USMC, and early personal drivers of the Honda FCX Clarity. A second fuel-cell vehicle is being tested in Washington, DC.

In New York City, the Postal Service has had 30 electric 2-ton vehicles on the street since 2001. They were recently joined in Long Island, NY, by two 2-ton hybrid electric vehicles.

The USPS uses medium-duty hybrid electric vans from Eaton Corporation (ETN) and Azure Dynamics (AZD.TO). They join the 10 existing Hybrid-Electric Ford Escape vehicles currently in the fleet.

USPS had ordered 185 Chrysler plug-in hybrid vans, but new Chrysler executives have cancelled the ENVI electric and plug-in vehicles. The electric vehicle manufacturing was cancelled even though that was part of Chrysler’s argument that it needed $20 billion of loans from the taxpayers.

Quantum (QTWW) announced on February 1 that it was selected by the US Postal Service (USPS) to produce an advanced electric postal delivery vehicle based on the widely used Long Life Vehicle (LLV) platform. Quantum is also making the hybrid-electric drive system for Fisker.

Quantum was competitively selected, along with 4 other companies, for participation in a 1 year demonstration and validation program to be conducted by the USPS for the use of electrification of the 178,000 LLV segment of the postal delivery fleet, the largest civilian fleet in the country.

The short range mail routes with numerous stops make postal delivery vehicles an ideal application for a battery electric vehicle with regenerative braking features. Under this program, Quantum will integrate its Quantum Quiet™ high efficiency battery electric drive system, into a Grumman LLV, and optimize for the 500 to 700 stops per day use of a postal delivery vehicle. UQM has received from Quantum an electric-motor and propulsion system order for the USPS electric drive system.

A bill is now being debated in Congress, HR 4399: American Electric Vehicle Manufacturing Act, that would enable the USPS to have 18,000 hybrid-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles as part of its fleet, plus at least 2,000 pure battery electric vehicles. The bill would reduce the need for dirty peaking power plants by accelerating the use of smart grid and vehicle-to-grid. The bill calls for 3,600 charging stations. The bill priorities buying of American made vehicles with American made advanced batteries. Recycling and reuse of the batteries is part of the proposed legislation. The bill calls for $2 billion of estimated spending, investment, and research.

The USPS has demonstrated zero-emission leadership for over 100 years. In sun and darkness, rain and snow, carriers walk billions of miles delivering mail and packages.

$2.4 Billion Accelerates 48 EV and Charging Projects

$2.4 Billion Accelerates 48 EV and Charging Projects

President Obama Signs AARA

President Obama Signs ARRA

President Obama Announces $2.4 Billion in Grants to Accelerate the Manufacturing and Deployment of the Next Generation of U.S. Batteries and Electric

(8/5/09). Further accelerating the manufacturing and deployment of electric vehicles, batteries, and components here in America, and creating tens of thousands of new jobs, President Obama announced 48 new advanced battery and electric drive projects that will receive $2.4 billion in funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. These projects, selected through a highly competitive process by the Department of Energy, will accelerate the development of U.S. manufacturing capacity for batteries and electric drive components as well as the deployment of electric drive vehicles, helping to establish American leadership in creating the next generation of advanced vehicles.

“If we want to reduce our dependence on oil, put Americans back to work and reassert our manufacturing sector as one of the greatest in the world, we must produce the advanced, efficient vehicles of the future,” said President Obama.

“For our nation and our economy to recover, we must have a vision for what can be built here in the future—and then we need to invest in that vision,” said Vice President Biden. “That’s what we’re doing today and that’s what this Recovery Act is about.”

“These are incredibly effective investments that will come back to us many times over—by creating jobs, reducing our dependence on foreign oil, cleaning up the air we breathe, and combating climate change,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “They will help achieve the president’s goal of putting one million plug-in hybrid vehicles on the road by 2015. And, most importantly, they will launch an advanced battery industry in America and make our auto industry cleaner and more competitive.”

The announcement marks the single largest investment in advanced battery technology for hybrid and electric-drive vehicles ever made. Industry officials expect that this $2.4 billion investment, coupled with another $2.4 billion in cost share from the award winners, will result directly in the creation tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. battery and auto industries.

The 48 new awards

* $1.5 billion in grants to United States-based manufacturers to produce batteries and their components and to expand battery recycling capacity
* $500 million in grants to United States-based manufacturers to produce electric drive components for vehicles, including electric motors, power electronics, and other drive train components
* $400 million in grants to purchase thousands of plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicles for test demonstrations in several dozen locations; to deploy them and evaluate their performance; to install electric charging infrastructure; and to provide education and workforce training to support the transition to advanced electric transportation systems.

Today, President Obama visited Navistar International Corporation, in Elkhart, Indiana, to make the announcement. Navistar will receive a $39 million grant to manufacture electric trucks which the company reports will ultimately will create or save hundreds of jobs when full scale manufacturing at the site commences. Overall, seven projects in Indiana will receive grants totaling more than $400 million. The applications from the companies and from one university engaged in this technology research anticipate that these awards will create or save thousands of jobs.

Vice President Joe Biden and four Members of the Cabinet also fanned out across the country to discuss the historic announcement.

Vice President Biden was in Detroit to announce over $1 billion in grants to companies and universities based in Michigan. Reflecting the state’s leadership in clean energy manufacturing, Michigan companies and institutions are receiving the largest share of grant funding of any state. Two companies, A123 and Johnson Controls, will receive a total of approximately $550 million to establish a manufacturing base in the state for advanced batteries, and two others, Compact Power and Dow Kokam, will receive a total of over $300 million for manufacturing battery cells and materials. Large automakers based in Michigan, including GM, Chrysler, and Ford, will receive a total of more than $400 million to manufacture thousands of advanced hybrid and electric vehicles as well as batteries and electric drive components. And three educational institutions in Michigan—the University of Michigan, Wayne State University in Detroit, and Michigan Technological University in Houghton, in the Upper Peninsula—will receive a total of more than $10 million for education and workforce training programs to train researchers, technicians, and service providers, and to conduct consumer research to accelerate the transition towards advanced vehicles and batteries.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu, whose Department selected the 48 award winners, visited Celgard, in Charlotte, North Carolina, to announce a $49 million grant for the company to expand its separator production capacity to serve the expected increased demand for lithium-ion batteries from manufacturing facilities in the United States. Celgard will be expanding its manufacturing capacity in Charlotte, North Carolina, and nearby Aiken, South Carolina, and the company expects the new separator production to come online in 2010. Celgard expects that approximately hundreds of jobs could be created, with the first of those jobs beginning as early as fall 2009.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson was in St. Petersburg, Florida, to announce a $95.5 million grant for Saft America, Inc. to construct a new plant in Jacksonville on the site of the former Cecil Field military base, to manufacture lithium-ion cells, modules and battery packs for military, industrial, and agricultural vehicles.

Deputy Secretary of the Department of Transportation John Porcari visited East Penn Manufacturing Co., in Lyon Station, Pennsylvania, to award the company a $32.5 million grant to increase production capacity for their valve regulated lead-acid batteries and the UltraBattery, a lead-acid battery combined with a carbon supercapacitor, for micro and mild hybrid applications. East Penn Manufacturing is a third-generation family business with over 63 years in battery manufacturing.

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke visited Kansas City, Missouri, to announce a $10 million grant for Smith Electric to build and deploy up to 100 electric vehicles, including vans, pickups, and their “Newton” brand medium duty trucks. In addition, Secretary Locke announced three other grants supporting manufacturing and educational programs in Missouri: a $30 million grant to Ford Motor Company supporting the manufacturing of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles in Kansas City and in Michigan; and a $5 million grant to Missouri University of Science and Technology, in Rolla, Missouri, to fund educational and workforce training programs on advanced vehicles technologies.

See the full list of award winners (PDF 65 KB) and a map of their locations (PDF 371 KB).

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