Even as its main rival has filed a complaint to block the contract, Oshkosh Defense is moving forward with plans to build the next generation mail truck for the U.S. Postal Service.
The truck builder said Tuesday that it will assemble the new mail truck at a dedicated factory in Spartanburg, S.C.
Oshkosh said it plans to hire more than 1,000 local workers to assemble what the Postal Service calls the Next Generation Delivery Vehicle, or NGDV. The company said employment for the program will be bigger as on-site supply chain partners are expected to also hire workers.
Ford Motor Co. will provide components for both the internal combustion and electric versions of the truck, including powertrains, suspension and cabin interior components, said Alexandra Hittle, an Oshkosh Defense spokeswoman.
“We are finalizing our full supplier network as we mature the production design,” Hittle said.
In February, Postal Service picked Oshkosh as the winner of the competition to build the mail truck. A series of contracts are expected to top $6 billion.
Under the terms of the initial deal, Oshkosh, Wisc.,-based Oshkosh will get a $482 million contract to complete the production design of its mail truck offering. The agreement also provides Oshkosh funds to pay for tooling and factory configuration needed before launching production.
However, the Workhorse Group., a Loveland, Ohio, electric truck builder is protesting the award. It’s filed a legal challenge to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims under seal.
But according to the Washington Post, the Workhorse complaint asks a judge from the court to issue a preliminary injunction against the Postal Service and to halt the contract while the case is decided, the Post said.
The company has been exploring ways to challenge losing the contract to build the next-generation mail truck since it lost out in the bidding and has met with Postal Service officials to protest the award to Oshkosh.
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 USPS inspector’s office found that the current fleet could only meet the agency’s delivery needs through the 2017 fiscal year. They are also prone to fires, with several hundred burning up in recent years.
Workhorse’s proposal would have provided a fleet of electric vehicles. Although the Postal Service has considered using electric vehicles for its new fleet, just 10 percent of the vehicles in the Oshkosh contract would be electric, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said at a Congressional hearing earlier this year. That percentage would allow the agency to test the technology and limit the cost of installing chargers at postal facilities.
Besides telling shareholders that it is protesting the decision, Workhorse is not providing other details about its efforts to get a share of the contract.