Workhorse to meet USPS on Wednesday to discuss loss of delivery contract

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Workhorse Group Inc shares rose after it disclosed it will meet with U.S. Postal Service on Wednesday after the electric-vehicle maker lost a multibillion-dollar contract to Oshkosh Defense for making postal delivery vehicles last week.

FILE PHOTO: A U.S. Postal Service (USPS) logo is pictured on a mail box in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., August 21, 2020. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

“We have requested pursuant to the publicly provided bid rules - bid process rules, additional information from the U.S. postal service and have scheduled a face-to-face meeting with postal service on March 3,” Workhorse Chief Executive Officer Duane Hughes said on a conference call with analysts on Monday. “We intend to explore all avenues that are available to us.”

A USPS spokeswoman declined to comment.

Workhorse shares lost nearly half their value on Feb. 23 after USPS said it would award Oshkosh Defense, a unit of Oshkosh Corp, the 10-year contract.

Workhorse shares rose 7.2% Monday to $17.34 on news of the meeting, but are still down 38% since last week’s announcement.

The contract, which could be worth more than $6 billion in total, allows for delivery of between 50,000 and 165,000 of vehicles over 10 years that will be a mix of combustion-powered and electric vehicles.

U.S. Postmaster Louis DeJoy told a U.S. House panel last week that USPS has only committed to buy 10% electric vehicles in its next-generation delivery fleet.

Some environmentalists criticized the announcement after President Joe Biden in January vowed to replace the U.S. government’s fleet of roughly 650,000 vehicles with electric models.

Asked why USPS was not buying 90% EVs, DeJoy said: “We don’t have the three or four extra billion in our plan right now that it would take to do it.”

Hughes added “with or without the Post Office, we have a business here, and we have to focus on being able to build that business. If the Post Office comes, yes, that’s a game changer.”

Reporting by Akanksha Rana in Bengaluru and David Shepardson in Washington; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli and Stephen Coates