The world’s largest civilian fleet of delivery vehicles, operated by the US Postal Service, is to potentially run on cleaner, greener fuel sources such as hydrogen in the future, according to a report from Fuel Cell Today.

The US Postal Service plans to identify new, more environmentally friendly vehicle technologies that are less dependent on petroleum-based fuel sources, to replace the 195,000 neighbourhood delivery vehicles of its total 220,000 vehicles.

The recent announcement came during a ceremony in which General Motors presented a Chevrolet Equinox Fuel Cell electric vehicle to the Postal Service, for testing in a mail-delivery environment.

“We are looking for a vehicle that operates from a fuel source that reduces, or eliminates, our dependence on petroleum products, that is good for the environment, good for our customers and good for the Postal Service,” said Walter O’Tormey, Vice President of Engineering, as he accepted the keys to the Equinox Fuel Cell that will be tested in Irvine, California.

Moving forward with non-petroleum fuelled vehicles is more important to the Postal Service than ever since a marginal increase in a gallon of fuel can add considerable costs annually to expenses.

A hydrogen fuel cell vehicle is twice as efficient as an internal combustion engine, while hydrogen’s greatest advantage as a fuel is that it can be made in many ways using both traditional and renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar and biomass energy.

“We are very encouraged by GM’s fuel cell technology,” O’Tormey added.

“We also want to explore other options, such as hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid and other ‘green’ vehicles that will help us continue to provide our customers with reliable service while protecting the environment.”