The U.S. Postal Service reports that the first hybrid mail delivery van was launched at a ceremony in Boston on Tuesday as part of its continued efforts to promote emissions reduction, fuel economy, and reduction of reliance on foreign oil through the use of alternate-fuel vehicles. The hybrid-electric van, converted by Azure Dynamics Incorporated, will deliver mail to Boston-area homes and businesses while being monitored for an expected 30 to 50 percent improvement in fuel economy. Driving 1.1 billion miles and consuming over 125 million gallons of motor fuel per year, the U.S. Postal Service is heavily impacted by rising fuel costs. In addition to the newly converted hybrid-electric van, the U.S. Postal Service currently operates a fleet of 200,000 vehicles, 30,000 of which run on alternate fuels, such as compressed natural gas, propane, ethanol, biodiesel and electric power. Fuel costs are especially important for the Postal Service. The USPS states that every penny increase in the price of fuel adds $8 million to the fuel budget each year.