Oshkosh Defense on Tuesday announced that it plans to build its next-generation postal vehicles—some of which will be battery-electric—for the U.S. government in Spartanburg, South Carolina starting in summer 2023.
The company was awarded a $6 billion contract in February that will result in the delivery of between 50,000 and 165,000 vehicles over a 10-year period.
Under the contract, electric versions of the delivery trucks are only expected to make up 10% of the next-generation fleet—a distinction that multiple layers of government found surprising, given that it followed an executive order from President Biden calling for an all-electric, American-made future for the federal vehicle fleet.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy claimed to lawmakers shortly after the announcement that a fully electric fleet might have cost up to $4 billion more over the entire contract. In the weeks following, Congress considered mandating all-electric USPS trucks, and an $8 billion provision to make 75% of USPS vehicles all-electric advanced to the full House for consideration last month before losing momentum.
USPS Next Generation Delivery Vehicle - Oshkosh Defense
According to the USPS, the trucks with “fuel-efficient internal combustion engines” will be set up such that they might be retrofitted in the future.
Oshkosh Defense previously said that it's seeking a list of top-tier suppliers. But both Ford and Oshkosh Defense for the first time Tuesday confirmed that Ford Component Sales—a Ford subsidiary—would supply key powertrain pieces for the postal vehicles. That includes engines, suspension, and interior pieces for all the vehicles, as well as propulsion and even battery components for the electric versions.
"One of those suppliers is Ford Component Sales (a wholly owned subsidiary of Ford Motor Company), providing components across both ICE and BEV models including powertrain, drive train, suspension, and cabin interior components," said Oshkosh Defense president John Bryant, in a statement relayed to Green Car Reports. "We are finalizing our full supplier network as we mature the production design."
The facility will involve repurposing “an expansive warehouse facility” there to accommodate large-scale manufacturing and will hire more than 1,000 workers, with some supply chain partners yet to be chosen.
2022 Ford E-Transit
Oshkosh Defense has no experience producing roadgoing electric vehicles, so it will likely be a welcome relief to fleet operators that these trucks will likely bear some commonality with the Ford Transit and E-Transit—although with the parts bought piecemeal, not necessarily all that much in common.
The current LLV postal vehicles date back to 1987 and are based on the Chevrolet S-10 pickup; they’re well past their originally intended 24-year maximum service life.
Last week Workhorse Group—the other remaining finalist for the contract earlier in the year, with a solution that favored greater electrification—filed a legal challenge to the decision in a federal court.