How Politics Complicate the New Mail Delivery Truck Contract

Who knew that choosing the U.S. Postal Service’s next flagship mail delivery truck could become such a political football?

Any large government contract — this one is potentially worth more than $6 billion for an order that could reach 180,000 trucks — will be surrounded by lobbying. But given the current political environment, a decision that should be based on what truck best transports mail to the doorstep is fraught with undercurrents. Perhaps this is why the postal service has held strict radio silence on the topic except to confirm it is testing five prototype vehicles in a variety of climates and regions. It is expected to make its decision later this year.

Two bidders are overseas companies. Both would assemble the vehicles in the U.S., but it’s hard to see how the Trump administration’s “America First” outlook would allow this important government contract to be captured by businesses such as India-based Mahindra or the Turkish-owned Karsan.

The blowback would be more about the optics of the deal rather than the actual contract. Mail trucks are ubiquitous, perhaps the most obvious representation of the federal government in our daily lives. Could Trump tolerate a foreign automaker’s logo on the front for the next two decades?

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