US Postal Service delays next-generation mail truck program due to pandemic

Original article was published on The Verge – Transportation Posts

The United States Postal Service (USPS) is pushing back the deadline for official bids to make its next-generation mail truck because of “the current COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on Postal Service and supplier operations.” The delay, which was first reported by Trucks.com, comes as the Postal Service is seeking billions of dollars in emergency funding as part of the Trump administration’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

The deadline for bids was supposed to be March 27th, but is now July 14th, according to the USPS. The program could award up to $6 billion in contracts to one or multiple bidders, and it’s expected to result in the manufacturing of nearly 200,000 new mail trucks. Some of the bidders have been working on all-electric versions, others have explored hybrid options, and one — a joint effort from Ford and military vehicle manufacturer Oshkosh — is working on a gas-powered version.

The program to replace the USPS’s current trucks was launched in 2015. But it has dragged on, forcing the Postal Service to keep its current trucks in service past their expected life span — despite the fact that they were introduced in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and lack features like air conditioning. Two of the original six companies have dropped out.

One of the four remaining companies is Workhorse, a struggling electric vehicle startup that has many of its eggs in the USPS contract basket. Founded in 1998 as a commercial van manufacturer, it was bought by trucking giant Navistar in 2005, which eventually shut it down. AMP Electric Vehicles, a company focused on retrofitting combustion engine cars with EV powertrains, bought the IP in 2013 and assumed the Workhorse name.