Thursday, December 13, 2012

i-MiEV as United States Post Office vehicle

Should this be the next United States Post Office delivery vehicle?

The problem:
The USPS is losing money.
The solution:
Replace gasoline powered local route vehicles with electric powered Mitsubishi i-MiEV Cargo models.  I'm not trying to suggest a 100% replacement without consideration of limiting factors.  I'm suggesting that the scenarios of different cities and routes be evaluated and a determination made on the merits of each on an individual case.  Here are the reasons why this makes sense. 
·         The distance a for a postal route is a known factor.  Not every route is the same length.  But a driver typically drives the same route each delivery day and should know how far they need the vehicle to transport them.  One source states that delivery vehicles are driven an average of 17 miles per day.  Even if that distance were doubled or tripled, the Mitsubishi would be able to handle the trip.  Carrying the extra weight of the mail will lower the 62 mile estimated range of the base i-MiEV.  I don't believe it would lower it below 34 miles though.
·         City vehicle.  Once delivered, the car wouldn't have a need to travel away from its base of operation.  It won't have to worry about going hundreds of miles in a day to go on vacation.  It also won't have to worry about keeping pace with other cars on the highway.  It is almost as if the car were designed from the beginning to fit this purpose. 

·         Right Hand Drive.  The car was originally created for the Japanese market where citizens drive on the left and the steering wheel is on the right.  This means that the parts are in place to make a Right Hand Drive vehicle to meet the postal requirements without having to engineer a costly conversion process. 
·         Regenerative Braking.  The driver may have hundreds of stops in a day.  If the car is able to generate energy when the brake is applied, that will add to the vehicle range.  And the benefit over gas powered cars is "doubled" since braking in a gas powered car is an indication that too much fuel was used and was "wasted".
·         Dedicated use vehicle.  Unlike a private citizen debating about purchasing an electric vehicle and having to determine if the car will fit a wide range of needs, the post office pretty much has one use.  The car won't have to accommodate flats of mail one day and then have to carry four passengers around town the next day.  It has to carry the driver and carry envelopes and packages. 
·         Parked/charged every night.  There is concern among some people about the demands on the power grid that would be "increased" by charging electric vehicles.  The areas of the country where an EV would make the most sense are places that have a mild winter.  Those are places that also tend to have very warm summers.  Luckily, the i-MiEV would be out on the road (and away from the chargers) during the peak of the day's temperature.  This means it won't be getting charged at the same time there is high demand for customers of the electric company that are using air conditioners in their buildings.  The EVs would be recharged at "off-peak" hours.
·         Lower long-term operating costs.  True, the initial purchase price could be higher than some other gas powered options, but the cost over the life of the vehicle would be far lower.  And with some estimates that gas-powered replacement vehicles could be around $30,000 each, the argument for an electric vehicle around the same initial cost becomes that much stronger.  The cost for electricity is far lower than the cost of gasoline.  Fewer mechanical parts means fewer opportunities for issues.  There wouldn't be oil changes or exhaust system repairs, and the regenerative braking would also mean fewer brake pad replacements.
·         Lower environmental impact.  Being lower-cost doesn't come with the sacrifice of being more harmful for the environment.  True, not every kilowatt of energy produced is produced in the most environmentally beneficial way.  But it also takes electricity to create gasoline!  So not only is the burning of gasoline an issue, the creating of gasoline uses more electricity than the operation of an electric vehicle.
·         Tight turning radius.  The stock vehicle has a short wheelbase which lends to a tight turning radius.  It is 133.6 inches long overall.
·         Cargo compartment.  The dimensions of the interior rear are 53.1 inches wide by 46.4 inches deep and 43.3 inches high with a flat floor.
·         Made in the U.S.A.  Not yet, but what better incentive for a company to expand operations state-side than to entice them with a long-term contract for thousands of units?

Electric vehicles for the Post Office is not a new and radical concept.  It has been tested off and on for over 100 years.  Here is a link to some of the other Electric Vehicles that have been tried. 


  1. If the USPS doesn't go electric then they deserve to fail.

  2. Two points: the USPS is only losing money because they've been put in an impossible situation by Congress to fund their pensions ahead of time.

    Mitsubishi already makes a MiniCab EV which would be better suited as a mail carrier:

  3. These are some great suggestions. And they sure need to go electric.

    Mitsubishi Minicab was much better invention and Mitsubishi minicab parts are easily available too.

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