This prototype of a new USPS mail delivery van was unveiled in February as part of an announcement that the postal service is overhauling its fleet to accommodate more electric vehicles. Hide USPS caption
An electric vehicle maker is suing the US Postal Service for alleged bias in choosing a company to manufacture its newest fleet of vans.
The Congress Democrats are also skeptical of the treaty. Although USPS has called the new vehicles a “big step forward” toward a greener future, some Democrats say the plan doesn’t go far enough.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced with great roar that the fleet of gasoline-guzzling, non-air-conditioned and fire-prone delivery vans of the US Postal Service would be finally replaced in February.
DeJoy said the builder of the new delivery vehicles is Oshkosh, an armaments company with experience making armored trucks for the military but less experience building delivery vehicles.
Oshkosh has never built an electric delivery vehicle, according to a lawsuit filed by electric vehicle maker Workhorse, which lost the contract worth up to $ 3.1 billion.
That’s just one of the allegations Workhorse made in its legal protest against the postal service’s decision to go with Oshkosh.
Workhorse is petitioning the US Court of Federal Claims to terminate the contract and issue an injunction to stop its effectiveness.
The company, which refused to comment on the lawsuit, citing a nondisclosure agreement with the USPS, accuses the postal service of having put the postal service “thumbs on the scales” against Workhorse.
The lawsuit alleges that the company was wrongly penalized by the Post Office because one of its prototypes went out of control during testing, which the company said was the fault of the postal service driver for failing to park the truck.
Jack Horan, an attorney who works for Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath’s public procurement law and teaches law at Georgetown University, says it could be difficult for the company to prove such a bias.
“This is a particularly high hurdle for these types of allegations,” he told NPR, “as the courts assume that government officials are acting in good faith and require a significant amount of evidence to determine bad faith or bias.”
Horan says the agency’s quasi-independent status also means it is governed by other rules. “It does not fall under the usual procurement regulations that apply to federal agencies. This gives Swiss Post more discretion, business discretion and leeway in handling its procurement than other government agencies.”
For its part, the Post says that it does not comment on any active legal disputes, but is “looking forward to the start of vehicle production” and that “the pre-series design, tooling and system preparation activities are proceeding according to plan”. the first of the vehicles “which are expected to appear on the transport routes in 2023”.
Steven Schooner, a law professor at George Washington University’s Law School, says the complaint “paints a compelling and frankly troubling picture” and that companies like Workhorse who appeal loss contracts are facing an uphill battle, “but that does not mean that they never prevail. ”
Concern in Congress
The Oshkosh Treaty is also being challenged in Congress.
MP Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) wants the Biden government to review the contract with the company. “My concern is that they will not lead America into the future.”
The Postal Service has said that 90% of new Oshkosh delivery vehicles will run on gasoline and only 10% will be electric vehicles unless Congress gives it the money to buy more electric vehicles. Kaptur says this is going in the wrong direction.
“If you buy a level of vehicle like this, over 165,000 vehicles and only 10% of them are green,” she says, “that doesn’t make sense to me. And it’s very backward-looking.”
Kaptur and two other Ohio Democrats have written to President Biden asking him to look at the Oshkosh Treaty. Workhorse would likely build its vehicles in Ohio.
Oshkosh says there is no comment on the suit but looks forward to “getting these high-performance vehicles into the hands of postmen.” It says it can “any mix of gas or electric vehicles deliver the postal services”.
The company also announced it will be moving to a new facility in Spartanburg, SC. wanting to build