WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Postal Service plans to dramatically increase the number of electric vehicles it purchases to replace its fleet of aging delivery trucks, officials said Wednesday.

The Postal Service plans to increase electric vehicles from 20% to 50% in its initial purchase of 50,000 vehicles, with the first of them hitting delivery routes next year. It also offers to purchase 34,500 additional commercially available vehicles over two years, officials said.

The proposal, which will be published in the Federal Register on Thursday, came after 16 states, environmental groups and a union filed a lawsuit to suspend purchases of next-generation delivery vehicles under the original plan that was heavily geared towards gas-powered trucks.

The new environmental proposal effectively suspends purchases of 84,500 total vehicles – 40% electric – even as the Postal Service seeks to purchase up to 165,000 next-generation vehicles over the next decade to replace aging delivery trucks which entered service between 1987 and 1994.

Future purchases would focus on smaller quantities of vehicles at shorter intervals than the initial 10-year environmental scan, officials said.

The goal is to be more responsive to changes in the Postal Service’s operational strategy, technology improvements and changing market conditions, the Postal Service said in a statement. A public hearing on the new proposal will take place next month.

Next-generation delivery vehicles are taller to make it easier for mail carriers to grab parcels and parcels that make up a larger share of the volume. They also improved ergonomics and air conditioning.


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