Ford Motor Co. is delivering the largest-ever order for an electric vehicle to the United States Postal Service (USPS). Based on the electric-powered Ford Ranger compact light-truck chassis, USPS is receiving 500 vehicles for use as mail delivery vehicles.

Short, predictable routes with lots of stop-and-go driving make postal delivery trucks an ideal application for full-size electric vehicles, Ford said. The vehicle's 50-mile (80 kilometer) range can easily accommodate the average mail delivery route, which is 15-20 miles (24-32 kilometers) per day.

"Mail delivery is the perfect application for an electric vehicle, and the Ranger EV is the perfect work truck platform for the USPS delivery vehicle,” said Mike McCabe, marketing and sales manager for TH!NK Technologies.

The bulk of the electric postal vehicles will be used for mail delivery in California, with the remainder going to the Washington, D.C. area. Ford delivered the first shipment of vehicles to the Fountain Valley Post Office in Huntington Beach, CA in February.

Recharging the delivery vehicles overnight, when power demands are at their lowest, helps reduce demand on California's electrical supply at peak times. Low- maintenance requirements and long-life durability add to the vehicles' benefits, and quiet, zero-emission operation makes the vehicles ideal for neighborhood use.

The remaining vehicles will be delivered by the end of the year. USPS has the option of ordering up to 6,000 units.