The United States Postal Service (USPS) has awarded electric car pioneer ZAP (OTC Bulletin Board: ZAAP) an engineering contract for the design and development of an electric version of its Long Life Vehicle (LLV).
ZAP will convert the gasoline mail truck to run on electricity as specified by the USPS at facilities in Santa Rosa, California. Following completion the converted vehicle will undergo field trials in the Washington, DC metropolitan area later this year. ZAP was selected along with four other firms in a competitive bid process held nationwide by the USPS.
Yesterday, US Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, D-California, toured ZAP’s facility, commenting on job creation by ZAP and the Postal Service: “I so appreciate ZAP for hanging in there all these years, knowing what we should be doing as a country. I think a majority of members of Congress, the House in particular, know that they were right and that this is where we need to be investing.”
The USPS operates a fleet of approximately 142,000 LLVs as part of the largest civilian fleet in the world, according to USPS sources, with 218,684 vehicles traveling more than 1.25 billion miles each year. The USPS fleet consumed 444 million gallons of fuel in 2009, costing roughly $1.1 billion. Agency vehicles average 10.4 miles per gallon since most drive slowly and make frequent stops with the engine idling between mailboxes.
ZAP believes the use of electric mail trucks in the postal fleet could be a multi-billion dollar market opportunity for manufacturers of electric vehicles and have a positive impact on the environment by increasing efficiency while reducing air pollution and gasoline consumption.