Already years behind schedule, the U.S. Postal Service announced another delay in its efforts to award a more than $6 billion contract to replace its fleet of aging mail trucks.
The Postal Service told Trucks.com that it expects to reach a contract with one or more of the teams bidding for the business in the federal government’s second fiscal quarter of 2021. That works out to the first quarter of next year.
Previously the agency said it would award the business early this year but then pushed it back to the end of 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It missed several targets for awarding the contract in 2019 and 2018.
“Amid continuing COVID-19 concerns, and in order to provide for capital investment activities and required approvals, the program schedule has been revised and a decision is now planned for quarter 2 of fiscal year 2021,” Kim Frum, a spokesperson for the Postal Service, said in a statement to Trucks.com on Tuesday.
Multiple teams of vehicle manufacturers once competed for the contract but many have dropped out over the years. Currently, there are three teams. They had a deadline to submit their proposals in July, at which time the agency said it would start to evaluate the plans and launch negotiations.
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.
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.
The vehicles are prone to fires and they have become increasingly expensive to repair.
The three teams left competing for the contract are:
• 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.
Editor’s note: This story was updated with the name of the U.S. Postal Service spokeswoman who provided the statement at 3:51 p.m. EST.