WASHINGTON, D.C. --- The U.S. Postal Service announced plans to replace 6,500 vehicles in its delivery fleet. The move will add 1,000 E-85 ethanol-capable and 900 gasoline/electric hybrid vehicles to the fleet.

This is part of a vehicle purchase by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). The balance of the GSA purchase for the Postal Service will be fuel-efficient, four-cylinder vehicles, which will replace aging vehicles at postal offices and facilities across the country, as the Postal Service continues to reduce the size of its fleet.

There was no cost to the Postal Service for the vehicles. GSA bore all purchase and distribution expenses. 

At nearly 220,000, the Postal Service operates and maintains the largest civilian fleet in the country. The 1,900 vehicles from GSA will bring the total number of alternate fuel-capable vehicles in the Postal Service fleet to more than 43,000. 

"With our fleet traveling more than 1.2 billion miles a year, the Postal Service consistently looks for ways to reduce the environmental footprint that results from visiting every home and business in America six days a week," said Sam Pulcrano, vice president of sustainability. "The GSA fleet upgrade program will help us continue these strategies." 

The Postal Service has increased alternative fuel use by 41 percent since 2006, and plans to reduce petroleum use by 20 percent over the next five years. Replacing aging vehicles with more fuel-efficient and alternative fuel-capable vehicles is key to reaching that goal. 

"This is a unique opportunity for the Postal Service to continue work on our goals for improved fuel economy, greenhouse gas reductions, and on our position as an environmental leader," said Wayne Corey, manager of vehicle operations, who is overseeing the vehicle delivery. 

Long a leader in sustainable practices, the Postal Service has been honored with more than 70 major environmental awards, including 40 White House Closing the Circle awards for environmental stewardship and the 2009 Climate Change Champion of the Year Award for efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

Throughout its history, the U.S. Postal Service has championed every new mode of transportation in its ongoing effort to provide mail delivery. From horse-drawn wagons to alternative fuel vehicles, the Postal Service has taken steps to reduce the environmental impact of its fleet, including:

  • Delivering mail on a trial basis using three-wheel (T3) electric vehicles in Florida, California and Arizona. The T3 is powered by two rechargeable batteries, has zero gas emissions and costs 4 cents a mile to operate.
  • Testing two fourth-generation fuel-cell Chevrolet Equinox hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, which are delivering mail in Irvine, Calif., and in Washington, D.C.
  • Using 35 delivery vehicles in Florida that run on propane fuel.
  • Running 300 vehicles nationwide that are powered by biodiesel fuel.