I recently wrote an op-ed about how the United States Postal Service (USPS) could look to solve its gas-guzzling truck problem by following the European example of delivering mail with smaller electric cargo bikes . Turns out the Postal Service has already tested this, and the small e-bikes are also very stylish.
Not only are they designed to carry heavy loads, but they are also built in the USA by Montana-based Coaster Cycles.
The e-bikes are built on the Freighter AW platform, which can be modified for different types of commercial e-cargo bike applications.
Technically, it’s an electric cargo tricycle, but it almost looks more like a van than a bike.
The giant rear cargo box offers 72 cubic feet (over 2,000 liters) of space for mail, and the bike can hold up to 400 lbs (181 kg) of cargo. Hydraulic disc brakes help bring all that weight to a quick and safe stop.
The bike is powered by Bosch’s Cargo Line e-bike drive system, which delivers 85 Nm of torque to the rear wheels. The drive system is paired with a 500 Wh battery to power the mid-drive motor, although multiple batteries could probably be swapped out to extend range. It’s not like the bike lacks space to carry a spare battery or two.
The mid-drive motor runs through a sophisticated automatic transmission based on an Enviolo CVT, which means postmen can spend less time worrying about gear changes and more time looking up house numbers and monitoring the road. .
Smaller diameter rear wheels help keep the cargo box lower to the ground, while mirrors help the driver see over the rear of the cargo box.
The cockpit of the bike includes a rear view camera to make the bike easier to handle when reversing in tight spaces.
While most e-bikes have excellent rear visibility, I can see how a backup camera would be useful on this particular model.
So far, USPS e-bikes seem to be working well. Christopher Jackson, the city’s delivery manager, explained in The postal register:
While there’s still a lot to consider and evaluate with these new e-bikes, I hope the Postal Service will continue to explore eco-friendly options for around-town delivery. I love to hear feedback from carriers who participate in testing. Thank you Florida Bike Carriers for hosting NALC representatives and providing valuable information, and for their daily dedication as they travel the many miles through their communities to deliver the mail. As always, my sincere thanks go out to all the carriers in town, as you continue to provide great service to the American people despite the many challenges.
The news of additional electric vehicles making their way through letter carrier routes couldn’t come soon enough.
The United States Postal Service is currently dealing with the fallout from the backlash of its new gas-guzzling mail truck plans.
The USPS initially announced it would purchase up to 165,000 mostly gasoline-powered Next Generation Delivery Vehicles (NGDVs) from Oshkosh Defense Corp.
The original plan called for 10% of these vehicles to be electric, although the USPS later increased that percentage to 20% for its initial order of 50,000 vehicles. Gas-powered NGDVs will achieve as low as 8.6 miles per gallon (about 27.5 L/100 km) while running.
However, several lawsuits have recently been filed against the USPS regarding the high percentage of gas-guzzling vehicles in the order.
As Electrek’s Jameson Dow recently explained:
The lawsuits filed today resurrect many of the recent arguments against the decision, focusing primarily on the USPS’ failure to conduct timely environmental assessments. They argue that not only was the initial environmental assessment undertaken after the contract was announced, but the assessment was flawed with respect to the air quality and climate impacts of the plan and did not seriously consider other alternatives to gas consumers that the USPS has decided.
Under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), signed in 1970, federal agencies must issue Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) prior to any policy changes that may impact the environment.
But the USPS’ environmental assessment was deemed insufficient not only by all the groups filing lawsuits today, but also by the White House and the EPA, who sent letters criticizing the plan (which is also in conflict with President Biden’s order to convert the entire federal vehicle fleet to electric). Even the USPS watchdog group, the Office of Inspector General, said the agency would benefit from adopting more electric vehicles than its current plan.
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