SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Two northern Indiana automakers have been awarded contracts to build prototypes for the next generation of U.S. Postal Service vehicles.

The South Bend Tribune reports ( ) AM General, based in South Bend, was awarded an $8.75 million contract while Utilimaster, based in Bristol, was awarded a $3.67 million contract. Overall, the Postal Service awarded six companies $37.4 million in contracts.

The Postal Service plans to replace its aging fleet with advanced vehicles that provide better fuel efficiency and zero-emission capability.

The companies will be given a year to design and build the prototypes, which will have a variety of sizes and drive configurations. A total of 50 will be developed. The Postal Service will test the vehicles over a six-month period before awarding replacement contracts.

Information from: South Bend Tribune,