February 29, 2024

Today we’re talking about the thing we care about most: saving cash. Specifically, how the USPS is saving a ton of money by switching from 40-year-old Grumman LLV death traps to electric bikes. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “The Postal Service is a government entity and they don’t care about saving money.” Well, you’d be surprised. You see, the Postal Service is really a business, and like any business, they want to cut costs as much as possible. Let me tell you, switching to e-bikes is the only way they can make it happen. Not only do they save on fuel and maintenance costs, but they also do their part to help the environment. So put on your helmets and let’s take a deep dive into how the Postal Service can save some green resources while going green.

The USPS is testing one of several electric vehicles for mail and package delivery, and I think the design might have too many wheels

The fuel and maintenance savings of e-bikes compared to gasoline-powered cars are staggering

The post office is still delivering mail in those gas-guzzling Grumman LLVs that are as efficient as a drag parachute on a submarine.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Those Grumman LLVs have been delivering the mail for 40 years, what’s the problem?” The problem is that they’re not only obsolete, but they’re costing the Postal Service a lot of fuel and maintenance costs. But don’t just take my word for it, let’s do some math.

The Post Office maintains a fleet of thousands of Grumman LLVs, each getting about 12 miles per gallon. That means they spend about $0.33 per mile on gas. Now, let’s compare it to an e-bike. Electric bikes cost less than a penny per mile. Save over $0.32 per mile. USPS 208,000 vehicles drive more than 1.1 billion miles per year, using 114.3 million gallons fuel. If you assume gasoline is $3.50 a gallon, that means they consume over $400 million a year, and if they could replace a small percentage of mail delivery vehicles in urban areas with electric bikes, they could reduce fuel-only savings by up to 97%.

But it’s not just fuel costs that are cutting the Postal Service’s budget. These Grumman LLVs constantly break down and require maintenance (when they are not in use) catch fire). Electric bikes are much less expensive to maintain than any gasoline-powered mail delivery vehicle on the market.

Another more traditional USPS e-bike design, which I like is mid-drive, feels like a torque-sensing mid-drive would be a good application for this e-bike ( Bafang Super 1000W)

It’s not just time for greenwashing

One of the biggest environmental benefits of e-bikes is zero emissions. Unlike conventional gasoline-powered vehicles, e-bikes don’t release any pollutants into the air. This means that switching to e-bikes will significantly reduce the postal service’s carbon footprint, making it a more sustainable organisation.

E-bikes also require less energy to manufacture than conventional vehicles. According to a study by the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation, building an e-bike requires around 90 percent less energy than building a conventional car. This means the postal service can reduce its environmental impact not only through the use of e-bikes, but also through the manufacturing process.

In addition, by switching to electric bicycles, the postal service will also support the development of clean energy. Electric bikes are powered by electricity, which can come from renewable sources such as solar, wind and hydroelectric power. This means that as more e-bikes are used, more clean energy is needed, which will help support the growth of renewable energy.

The larger “e-Quad” is still classified as an electric bike (in some jurisdictions) even though it has 4 wheels (it does have pedals, but probably more for show)

how to get there from where you are now

While the potential cost savings and environmental benefits of using e-bikes for mail delivery are significant, the USPS also needs to consider some challenges as it implements this change.

One of the biggest challenges is the cost of buying and maintaining an electric bike. While the postal service saves money in the long run, the initial investment for an e-bike can be significant. Additionally, the Postal Service needs to ensure they have the proper infrastructure and resources to properly maintain and repair e-bikes.

Someone beat this thing with an ugly stick, e-bikes are more practical and economical than electric vans, there’s no guarantee even Oshkosh can make these things (they’ve already said it), no matter how much money the US government throws at them

Another challenge is the logistics of using e-bikes to deliver mail. The postal service needs to ensure that e-bikes have the freight capacity needed to handle mail and packages, and that they can navigate the terrain and roads in the areas in which they operate. In addition, the postal service needs to ensure that the e-bikes can meet the demands of daily mail delivery, including the ability to carry heavy loads and handle inclement weather.

Finally, the USPS needs to consider the regulatory environment for e-bikes. Different states and municipalities have different laws and regulations regarding the use of e-bikes, so the Postal Service needs to make sure they comply with all relevant regulations.This can be especially challenging in New York City, which can’t seem to really figure out how they think Deal with electric bikes.

The Danish Post design makes sense, with a large removable plastic bucket for easy movement of mail and parcels

Everyone else is doing it, so should we

Do you know what’s crazy? Other countries have found that e-bikes are the best way to deliver mail, especially in urban areas. In Denmark (my wife’s alma mater), for example, the postal service PostNord has been hanging around on e-bikes for years, and they’re not looking back. They’ve seen efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and the ability to navigate narrow urban streets. In fact, they save so much money on fuel and maintenance that they almost swim in it.

PostNL has some very advanced e-bike designs that I like, the wheels mean it can hold a lot of weight, putting the wrap up front means extra driver safety

But Denmark isn’t the only country taking part in this e-bike revolution, the Netherlands is also getting in on the action. The Dutch post office PostNL has been using e-bikes for many years and they have also benefited from it. Germany, Switzerland and Belgium aren’t the only countries that have jumped on the e-bike bandwagon to deliver mail.

Clearly, these countries have realized that e-bikes are the way to go, and if the USPS wants to save money and reduce its environmental impact, they should adopt this approach.

German design is 1300W (DD motor) Seems like a great design, look at that incredible stand

But let’s not forget that these countries succeeded because they worked hard to make it happen, they planned and implemented the change effectively. That’s the key, proper planning and implementation. So instead of just copying what they’re doing, we’re taking what worked for them and making it work for us.

When you think about mail delivery (or any package delivery, really), there are many situations where electric bikes make more sense than traditional gas or even electric vans. You don’t have to look for a parking space, they can park on the sidewalk, you don’t have to worry about getting stuck in traffic, you can get around easily and quickly, especially in congested cities. While e-bikes won’t work on all routes or in all weather, they can easily handle most of the mail and packages that USPS delivers every day. will it happen Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Most importantly, e-bikes for mail delivery are a game-changer, and other countries are waking up to it. It’s time for the US Postal Service to get in on the act, too.


Swiss Post designs more electric scooters for their postal service, and it’s your grandpa’s electric scooter

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