Having assumed office on January 20th, 2021, President Joe Biden is currently in the early stages of rolling out his first policy initiatives, some of which are designed to tackle COVID-19 and the resulting economic fallout. But the president has also called for incentives and programs designed to help car buyers and automakers transition to electric vehicles. To that end, he recently stated his intention to replace the federal government’s fleet of approximately 650,000 vehicles with electric models, a move that could potentially benefit Ford, as a variant of the Ford Transit van is in the running to become the next mail carrier for the United States Postal Service.
At the moment, Biden’s pledge has not been followed by any specific order for the government to replace its current fleet with electric vehicles, but there is at least one federal agency in dire need of a fleet upgrade: the United States Postal Service. As previously covered by Ford Authority, the Ford Transit is one of three vehicles currently in the running to replace the Grumman Long Life Vehicle, a model that has far outlived its life expectancy.
The USPS has repeatedly pushed back its decision on which company deserves the $6 billion, 180,000 vehicle contract, but the Ford Transit mail carrier is the only production vehicle in the running. The Transit mail carrier is the result of a collaboration between the Oshkosh Corporation and Ford Motor Company, and it is currently competing against two rivals: Karsan, an electric commercial van company, and Workhorse Group, a relatively new startup venture. The former is working on a plug-in hybrid with USPS supplier Morgan Olsen while the latter is pitching an all-electric offering.
In his recent remarks, Biden didn’t specify if those replacement vehicles would be fully electric models.
“The federal government also owns an enormous fleet of vehicles, which we’re going to replace with clean electric vehicles made right here in America made by American workers.”
Either way, it is currently unclear if the Ford Transit mail carrier in the running for the contract is partially or fully electrified. The upcoming 2022 Ford E-Transit could theoretically meet the needs of the USPS if the organization finds that its projected 126 mile range suitable for its fleet, but given the unique stop-and-go demands inflicted upon mail delivery trucks, a plug-in or regular hybrid powertrain that isn’t range-limited might be more suitable for the job.
The fact that the Ford Transit is produced at the Ford Kansas City Assembly plant could help sway things in Ford’s favor. The USPS is expected to announce its preferred candidate in Q2 2021, but that date is subject to change. And with no concrete plan currently announced, Biden’s desire for the federal government to posses more environmentally friendly vehicles may not be acted upon until later this year, at the earliest.