Oshkosh Defense will open a dedicated facility in Spartanburg, S.C., where it will build the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Next Generation Delivery Vehicle (NGDV), the Oshkosh Corp. subsidiary announced Tuesday. The company expects to hire more than 1,000 local team members at the Spartanburg facility, and on-site supply chain partners are expected to have additional hiring needs.
Also on Tuesday, a long-expected deal with Ford Motor Co. to supply Oshkosh with powertrains for the NGDV was confirmed by Reuters. The facility location and the Ford announcements come less than a week after electric vehicle maker Workhorse Group Inc., one of the three finalists in the five-year NGDV bid process, filed a formal complaint with the U.S. Federal Court of Claims protesting the award to Oshkosh Defense. Workhorse provided no other details on the filing, citing a non-disclosure agreement.
The USPS selected Oshkosh Defense for the multi-billion-dollar NGDV contract in February 2021 at the end of a competitive process that began in 2015. The indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract provides for the delivery of between 50,000 and 165,000 vehicles over a period of 10 years. These vehicles will replace the existing fleet of delivery vehicles, many of which have been in service for more than 30 years.
Oshkosh’s winning solution will provide a modern fleet of both zero-emission battery electric vehicles (BEV) and fuel-efficient low-emission internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, with the option of producing any combination of models, the company noted in a statement. The BEV option was not specified in the contract award, however, contrary to the expectations of industry analysts, environmentalists and many members of Congress—to say nothing of President Biden’s early pledge to electrify the US government fleet. Many observers believed Workhorse, would get a least some of the award.
Oshkosh Corp. President, CEO and Director John Pfeifer clarified the BEV commitment during the company’s subsequent earnings call with investment analysts, and emphasized the company has the ability to provide both EVs and gasoline-powered units (convertible to battery-electric) in whatever mix USPS wants—and is able to pay for.
“I want to make sure that I emphasize that we won this program. We know how to compete for government programs. It's one of the things we know how to do. We won it fairly,” Pfeifer said. “We can do 100% electric vehicles from Day 1. If the US Postal Service came to us tomorrow and said, ‘we've got the funding to do 100% electric from 2023’, we can do it.”
Oshkosh Defense plans to repurpose an expansive warehouse facility in Spartanburg with the features needed to accommodate a large-scale manufacturing operation that meets the technical requirements of producing “cutting-edge” vehicles for the USPS. Production of the NGDVs is expected to begin summer 2023, the company reported.