The United States Postal Service (USPS) is postponing deadlines for official offers to manufacture its next-generation mail truck due to the “current COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the postal service and supplier operations”. The delay, which was reported for the first time by Trucks.com, is due to the fact that the postal service is seeking billions of dollars in emergency funding under the Trump administration’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.
The offer period should be March 27, but is now July 14, according to the USPS. The program could award contracts up to $ 6 billion to one or more bidders. Almost 200,000 new mail trucks are expected to be manufactured. Some of the bidders have worked on fully electric versions, others have explored hybrid options, and one ̵
The program to replace the current USPS trucks was started in 2015. However, it has dragged on and forced the postal service to keep its current trucks operating beyond their expected lifespan – despite the fact that they were introduced in the late 1980s and early 1990s and features such as air conditioning are missing. Two of the originally six companies left the company.
One of the four remaining companies is Workhorse, an electric vehicle startup that has many of its eggs in the USPS contract basket. The company, founded in 1998 as a manufacturer of commercial vehicles, was bought in 2005 by the truck giant Navistar and finally shut down. AMP Electric Vehicles, a company that focuses on retrofitting vehicles with internal combustion engines with electric vehicles, bought the IP in 2013 and took the name Workhorse.
The new workhorse developed electric (and electrically assisted) commercial vehicles and vans, some of which were purchased from Ryder and UPS. The company also expanded into drones and started working on an electric pickup. But when sales of trucks and vans dried up, Workhorse took out large loans from several investment firms to keep them alive. The company sold its drone division and sold the EV pickup IP to its former CEO, whose new startup Lordstown Motors bought an old General Motors plant. Workhorse, which received more than $ 1 million under the Coronavirus Paycheck Protection Program, recently even bought out its partner in the mail truck program (truck manufacturer VT Hackney) to keep its offering alive.
The other remaining competitors include the North American branch of the Indian conglomerate Mahindra, which is working on both an internal combustion engine and a hybrid mail truck. Karsan, a Turkish commercial vehicle manufacturer, is working with Michigan-based USPS supplier Morgan Olson on a plug-in hybrid mail truck.
Amazon, which relies on the USPS but has been building a proprietary delivery infrastructure for years, is taking its own big push to electrify its fleet. As part of a major investment announced last year, the company has ordered 100,000 electric vehicles from EV startup Rivian.