By Stephen Markley on February 16, 2010
Electric vehicle manufacturer Zap scored a big victory this week by landing the contract to design and build an electric mail truck for the U.S. Postal Service.
Zap will convert a standard gas-powered mail truck to a plug-in vehicle and conduct field trials in the Washington, D.C., metro area later this year. Electricity makes a good deal of sense for mail trucks, which average 10.4 mpg and frequently travel at low speeds with the engine idling between stops.
Although the project remains only a trial, if legislators such as Democratic U.S Rep. Jose Serrano of New York have their way, the number of EV mail trucks could quickly swell. The American Electric Vehicle Manufacturing Act calls for allocating $1.86 billion to replace gas-powered trucks with EVs, which means roughly 20,000 vehicles.
To put that figure in some perspective, USPS estimates that it spent $1.1 billion on fuel costs for its fleet last year.