How long has the U.S. Postal Service been using zero-emission vehicles? If we don't count horses, then the answer isn't 2001, when the USPS began using all-electric Ford Ranger EVs to deliver mail in California and Washington, D.C. No, the mail was delivered via electric vehicle all the way back in 1899. That's when a Columbia electric automobile astonished people by setting a speed record for mail collection, as described in a new In The Driver's Seat post by Linda Nicholes and a USPS PDF. And, to fit in with the holiday spirit, let's not forget this line: "In 1909, electric mail trucks were put in service in New York City and Boston. During the 1911 Christmas season, New York's electric vehicles operated night and day, with batteries and drivers changing every eight hours." EVs were used in New York City until around 1917.
Returning to the present day, there's a reason Nicholes is writing about the USPS and EVs. Congressman Jose Serrano has introduced a bill that would pave the way for 20,000 modern-day electric delivery vans to be put to USPS use. Considering the duty cycle that many mail delivery trucks are put through – 25-mile routes, on average, lots of stops and starts, and driving through residential areas – a lot of mail EVs could be just the present that Nicholes is wishing for.
[Source: USPA via In The Driver's Seat]