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Workhorse was to meet with postal service reps

LORDSTOWN — Workhorse Group was to meet in-person Wednesday with representatives of the U.S. Postal Service to get additional information on why the Cincinnati-based company was not awarded the contract for the postal service’s next-gen vehicle.

A company spokesman with international communications firm Prosek Partners, however, declined to comment.

It was Monday that Workhorse President Duane Hughes said the meeting was scheduled during the company’s fourth quarter and 2020 earnings call.

“We understand many people want answers and information in a timely manner, and we will continue to work with the postal service according to the terms of our engagement as we move forward,” Hughes said. “To be clear, we intend to explore all avenues that are available to us.”

Postmaster Louis DeJoy announced Feb. 23 that Wisconsin-based Oshkosh Defense won the contract worth up to $6 billion, besting Workhorse Group, a minority stakeholder in Lordstown Motors Corp.

After the news, Hughes said Workhorse customers rallied around the company.

“We’ve got our customers coming back and saying, keep your head high, you have the best product out there,” Hughes said. “We’re with you all of the way. In some cases, it’s now we’re even more motivated to make the point that the electric vehicle strategy and the Workhorse electric vehicle strategy in particular is the way to go. That’s not just from one customer, that is from multiple customers along the way.”

Also Monday, three U.S. lawmakers from Ohio, including Congressman Tim Ryan, urged President Joe Biden in writing to halt the award to Oshkosh Defense so a review could be done to determine if inappropriate political influence factored in the award and whether the contract is consistent with Biden’s call to electrify the U.S. government’s fleet of vehicles.

DeJoy has told a House committee the new postal truck fleet would be 10 percent electric under the 10-year contract with Oshkosh to manufacture the next-generation truck. The vehicles would be equipped with electric powertrains or fuel-efficient internal combustion engines, according to the postal service.

The agreement calls for Oshkosh to assemble 50,000 to 165,000 of the trucks over the next decade.

What’s troubling to Ryan, D-Howland; Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo; and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown is the lack of commitment to making the vehicles either hybrid or fully electric, they wrote. They also aired concern over DeJoy’s record and policies they say have slowed mail delivery for Ohioans and made it more difficult for postal workers to do their jobs.

Hughes said Workhorse remains under a non-disclosure agreement with the postal service so he isn’t privy to information that may have been in competing proposals. Nor, he said, can he speak to OshKosh’s capabilities in the last-mile delivery sector.

“I know right now we are without a doubt in my mind the most confident electric vehicle maker in the last-mile delivery space,” Hughes said.

Workhorse is a 10 percent stakeholder in Lordstown Motors, which is using some of Workhorse’s intellectual property in the Endurance, Lordstown Motors’ battery-powered pickup truck expected to launch in September.

Lordstown Motors’ factory in Lordstown, the former General Motors assembly plant, was likely the site to make the postal service vehicles had Workhorse been given the contract. The company’s business plan, however, was never reliant on Workhorse getting the contract.

rselak@tribtoday.com

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