Workhorse Group filed a formal complaint with the U.S. Postal Service over its loss of a contract to supply electric mail delivery trucks to the federal agency.
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 to Oshkosh Defense in February.
The two companies were competing for a deal that could be worth more than $6 billion in new vehicles as part of the Postal Service’s effort to upgrade its aging fleet of mail trucks.
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.
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.
After losing the contract, Workhorse requested additional information about the decision from the Postal Service. Its executives met with agency representatives in March “to discuss the award and further specifics of the USPS selection process, the details of which cannot be disclosed at this time,” Workhorse said in a statement Wednesday.
“The Company is unable to provide any further information with respect to this matter currently but will provide updates when appropriate and as permitted under its non-disclosure agreement as part of the USPS NGDV program,” the company said.
Under the terms of the 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.
It will be a purpose-built, right-hand-drive vehicle for mail and package delivery. The design will allow the vehicle to be equipped with either an internal combustion engine or a battery-electric powertrain. The Postal Service has told Oshkosh to ensure that the electric truck can be retrofitted to keep pace with electric vehicle technology advances.
Oshkosh will assemble 50,000 to 165,000 mail trucks over 10 years.
The agency spent more than $700 million in 2019 maintaining its current mail truck fleet. The average expense was about $5,000, but at least 10,000 trucks needed an average of more than $12,000 of work.
The Postal Service began planning the fleet’s replacement with a new purpose-built vehicle more than five years ago. The post office expected to place the first trucks in service during the federal government’s 2018 fiscal year. Still, many delays, including the latest caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, have hampered the program.
The new vehicles will be a significant upgrade from the old trucks now used by letter carriers.
The Postal Service said the new design vehicles would include air conditioning, heating and improved ergonomics. They also get the technology that is now ubiquitous in passenger vehicles, including 360-degree cameras, advanced braking and traction control, airbags, a front- and rear-collision avoidance system that includes alerts and automatic emergency braking.
The new mail trucks will have greater cargo capacity designed to handle the eCommerce boom.