With the presidential election concluded and the end of 2020 fast approaching, the U.S. Postal Service still has not announced a contract for its next-generation mail truck.
The Postal Service is years behind on developing a new mail truck. It had planned to have the program launched by now but has been upended by drawn-out prototype evaluations, COVID-19 pandemic delays and a political battle over the post office’s efficiency and finances.
The deadline for three company teams to provide contract proposals to build the new truck passed in July. And the Postal Service told Trucks.com that it would begin evaluating the proposals and starting negotiations.
“An award(s) is currently planned for the production phase by the end of the calendar year,” the agency said in a statement to Trucks.com.
But a spokeswoman for the agency told Trucks.com this week that there is no new information on how contract talks are proceeding.
Workhorse Group Chief Executive Duane Hughes, whose company is one of the bidders, said in a conference call with industry analysts Monday, that the company is still in the running but unable to provide any information because of a confidentiality agreement with the Postal Service.
The Postal Service has said the contract could be worth more than $6 billion of business to build as many as 180,000 delivery vans. It also is looking at splitting the giant order between multiple parties.
Although it tested multiple prototypes from five different groups, there are just three teams left competing for the contract.
Workhorse Group, a small Loveland, Ohio, electric truck builder, had teamed up with truck body maker VT Hackney. But it said VT Hackney has dropped out of the project, leaving Workhorse to continue on its own. Workhorse paid $7 million for intellectual property related to the truck and acquired the right to bid for the contract. It has a factory in Indiana.
The company also owns 10% of Lordstown Motor Corp., an electric pickup truck startup in Lordstown, Ohio. It may tap Lordstown for manufacturing if Workhorse lands a large contract for the new mail trucks.
Turkey-based Karsan, which makes commercial electric vehicles, teamed with long-time USPS supplier Morgan Olson of Sturgis, Mich. The team has offered a plug-in hybrid engine option for the new mail truck. Its truck would be built in the U.S.
The third team, Oshkosh Corp., of Oshkosh, Wisc., and Ford Motor Co. of Dearborn, Mich., already have U.S. manufacturing facilities. They based their internal combustion engine entry on the Ford Transit cargo van.
The post office now uses about 140,000 Grumman Long Life Vehicles for its main delivery service. Manufactured from 1987 through 1994, they need to be replaced. A 2014 audit from the office of the USPS inspector general found that the current fleet was expected to only meet the delivery needs of the agency through the 2017 fiscal year.