Electric Vehicles manufacturer Workhorse has officially challenged the decision of the United States Postal Service to grant the contract of next-generation mail vehicle to Oshkosh. The American startup has now filed a formal complaint with the United States Federal Court. The Cincinnati-based company has been working on developing drone-integrated cost-effective electric vehicles with the aim of serving the last mile delivery sector. Workhorse was among the competitors of the contract but the USPS awarded it to defense contractor Oshkosh. The complaint against the bid is currently sealed. However, the judge can order to make some part of the sealed document public. This is because a redacted version of the complaint has also been filed by the Workhorse. The version can be ultimately made public. The bid protest kicks off a court fight as the USPS announced back in February that it had selected Wisconsin-based Oshkosh Defense to manufacture its next generation mail truck. The new generation of US-built postal delivery vehicles is slated to hit roads in 2023. The contract is best remembered because of the design mockups that accompanied the announcement. The design released featured a mail vehicle that is cartoonishly rounded-out and looked more like a goofy clown car.
Under the contract, which is around worth USD 6 billion, the Wisconsin-based company will manufacture 50,000 to 165,000 of the vehicles over 10 years. The trucks can be retrofitted in order to keep pace with the latest development in the field of electric vehicle technology. These vehicles will either be equipped with fuel-efficient internal combustion engines or battery-electric powertrains. This is because the Biden administration wants all such vehicles to run on electric power. Before this contract was granted, Workhorse had proposed manufacturing an all-electric vehicle fleet for the United States Postal Service. The idea had garnered the support of several key lawmakers of the United States within no time. But funding seems to be a major sticking point behind the electrification of the USPS fleet. However, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has promised to have at least 10 percent of the USPS fleet as electric vehicles. In a letter to lawmakers, he had also written about government assistance could be of great help in launching the majority of electric feet in the next decade. The USPS was planning to replace mail trucks with new vehicles by 2018. Six companies were initially selected by the UPSP and the bidding process dragged on for years.
USPS has refused to comment on the complaint filed by Workhorse. But it said that everything is on schedule and the first estimated delivery is expected to be on schedule. “We never comment on any ongoing litigation. The USPS is looking forward to the production of electric vehicles for our Next Generation Delivery Vehicle (NGDV),” a USPS representative said. Commenting on the complaint, Oshkosh Defense said that bid protests are normal in any government contracting process. “This is very common and we don’t comment on it,” said Alexandra C. Hittle of Oshkosh Defense. “We are extremely proud one being shortlisted to fulfill the needs of the NGDV program. We look forward to providing these vehicles to mail carriers.” Workhorse was among the final three companies that submitted final bids. Moreover, it was the only one that proposed building an electric mail fleet. The design revealed by Oshkosh in February was capable of running both on gas and electric drivetrains. Oshkosh said that it is still working on the final design of the vehicle. The company also said that the vehicle will not hit roads before 2023. The company is not ready to talk about whether Ford is involved in the final pitch. The question is being asked because Ford was part of it during the bidding process.