The Postal Service in March finished testing prototypes of trucks for its next-generation delivery vehicle program, the agency’s chief said publicly this week. But the closely followed competition’s winner has not been announced.
The agency expects to issue a request for production by early fall, Postmaster General Megan Brennan said during a congressional hearing Tuesday on the agency’s poor financial health.
“We are currently analyzing the results of the testing that was over a multimonth period in different topographies and different climates,” she said. “And those results will help inform the production request going forward.”
Five manufacturer teams are competing to build the trucks.
POSSIBLE $6.3B CONTRACT
The next step, the contract for actual production of the vehicles, could be worth up to $6.3 billion. But production is likely to be incremental – 12,000 mail trucks a year – and take place over seven years. That’s based on the agency’s prototype request. The agency also asked for battery-electric and plug-in hybrid powertrains options.
The teams are:
- AM General of South Bend, Ind.
- The U.S. division of India’s Mahindra, known for building right-hand-drive commercial vehicles.
- Oshkosh Corp. and Ford Motor Co.
- Karsan Otomotive, a Turkish truck maker, working with Morgan Olson, a Sturgis, Mich., manufacturer of walk-in vans that has a long-standing relationship with the USPS. A Morgan Olson predecessor company, Grumman Olson, won the original $1.6 billion contracts in 1985 and 1991 to make 142,655 Long Life Vehicles, or LLVs. Production ran from 1987 to 1994.
- VT Hackney and Workhorse Group are offering an electric mail truck.
The Postal Service and the companies have met over the past month to hammer out final specifications for the production design, according to people involved with the process not authorized to speak on the record.
All parties involved in the process signed nondisclosure agreements with the Postal Service.
The Postal Service has struggled to maintain its aging fleet of boxy mail trucks. The fleet of about 140,000 delivery vehicles has been plagued by engine compartment fires in recent years. Maintenance costs have skyrocketed. Fuel costs are high. The trucks achieve around 9 to 10 mpg, according to agency data.
The average age of the trucks is 27 years, the agency’s chief said. But the trucks’ aluminum bodies were built to last 24 years.
Prototype testing began in November 2017 and included in-lab durability trials. The 50 or so vehicles were tested by mail carriers on routes around the U.S. that included mountains and deserts.
The agency’s goal is for each truck to cost from $25,000 to $35,000. It said it would need up to 180,000 trucks.
It is not clear how the agency will pay for them.