U.S. Postmaster General Louis Dejoy speaks on Capitol Hill last year. File Pool Photo by Graeme Jennings/UPI | License Photo
Feb. 23 (UPI) -- The U.S. Postal Service said Wednesday it has finished an environmental review of its plans to modernize its fleet of vehicles and will roll out first 5,000 battery-powered models beginning next year.
USPS vehicles make up the federal government's largest and oldest fleet, the agency said in a news release.
The fleet will still include internal combustion engine vehicles as EVs are introduced.
"As we have reiterated throughout this process, our commitment to an electric fleet remains ambitious given the pressing vehicle and safety needs of our aging fleet as well as our fragile financial condition," Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said in the release.
The current postal service vehicle plan calls for the overall fleet mix to be at least 10 percent EVs with more added as financial resources become available.
The USPS has been criticized for not adding more electric vehicles, but DeJoy said earlier this month that the agency, which is funded by the sales of stamps and other products -- not tax dollars, is hampered by financial constraints.
The Environmental Protection Agency asked the Postal Service in a Feb. 2 letter to further examine the environmental impact of its purchase of gas-powered trucks.
The USPS announcement Wednesday said it had completed its obligations under the National Environmental Policy Act and would proceed with the purchase.
The new mail trucks will have air-conditioning and heat, improved ergonomics and advanced safety features, including 360-degree cameras, air bags and a rear-collision avoidance system.
The vehicles will also have increased cargo capacity to maximize efficiency and better accommodate higher mail and package volumes.