Ford, Fiat Chrysler in running to build new mail trucks

Michael Wayland
The Detroit News

New U.S. Postal Service delivery trucks could be driving down your street from Ford Motor Co. or Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV.

The two automakers are among a list of 15 companies in the running for a multibillion dollar contract to supply the government agency with a fleet of next-generation delivery trucks — replacing an aging fleet, much of which is more than 20 years old.

Replacing the current fleet has been a goal of the Postal Service “for some time now,” according to Postal Service spokeswoman Sarah Ninivaggi. But winning the government contract could be different for the automakers, which are competing against a number of military, mass-transit and specialized transportation companies.

The proposed vehicles need to last at least 20 years, carry a minimum payload of 1,500 pounds, pass safety and emissions requirements and share similar design characteristics of the current vehicle, while improving fuel efficiency and other performance specifications and ergonomics.

“We are seeking a larger vehicle that will enable our employees to work safely and efficiently while standing inside of it,” Ninivaggi said in an email to The Detroit News. “Replacing the aging light delivery fleet, much of which is 21 years or older, will also help to reduce operating and repair costs for vehicles, while simultaneously improving overall safety and efficiency of delivery operations.”

It is up to each company whether they propose a new or modified vehicle, Ninivaggi said.

Ford and FCA US both declined to comment on the potential contract, which includes supplying up to 180,000 vehicles at $25,000 to $35,000 per vehicle — between $4.5 to $6.3 billion total.

“While we do not speculate on potential customer orders, we are proud that Ford has been America’s best-selling commercial truck brand for 30 years,” Ford said in an emailed statement.

The Postal Service plans on selecting companies for prototype models by July. Followed by testing the prototypes through September 2016, and announcing the selected company by January 2017.

“This is a multi-year, phased effort,” Ninivaggi said.

The new vehicles will begin to roll out in 2018, and will be purchased and released in full over a few-year period, according to the Postal Service.

Other companies competing for the contract include AM General LLC, AMP Holding, Inc., Emerald Automotive, Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp., Karsan Co., Mahindra North American Technical Center, Morgan Olson LLC, Nissan North America Inc, OEM Systems LLC, Oshkosh Corp., Utilimaster Corp., VT Hackney Inc. and ZAP Jonway.

Staff writer Michael Martinez contributed to this report.

(313) 222-2504