Workhorse Previews First Range-Extended Electric Pickup
Workhorse is looking to offer at least 80 miles of all-electric range.by Mark McNabb, on
Workhouse, an electric automotive startup that’s been around for nearly a decade, has announced it will begin full-fledged development of an range-extending electric pickup truck aimed at fleet duty. Like the BMW i3, i8, and Chevrolet Volt, the W-15 would use batteries and electric motors for propulsion, with a backup gasoline generator to recharge the batteries for longer trips. What’s more, Workhorse already has strong interest from Duke Energy and the City of Orlando.
“Pickup trucks are the number one vehicle segment in America — we asked why there isn’t an alternative pickup truck in that category,” Workhorse Group founder and chief executive Stephen Burns told trucks.com “Amongst fleets there is a need and a desire for this.”
The truck is said to ride on a ladder-frame chassis constructed from stainless steal and have a lightweight composite body. It would feature a large battery pack from Panasonic mounted between the frame rails and under the cab. Two electric motors, one for each axle, would power the truck and give it all-wheel drive capabilities, much like Tesla’s vehicles.
Unlike Tesla, the W-15 would feature an internal combustion engine mounted far back under the hood. The engine would act as a range-extending generator to recharge the batteries. Workhorse says its goal is 80 miles of all-electric range and 310 miles of total range with a full tank of fuel. Longer trips would simply require refueling the tank like a conventional truck. Workhorse is also aiming for a payload capacity of 2,200 pounds and “superior towing capabilities.”
The company already contracts with BMW for its W20 REx gasoline generator for use in its range-extended delivery vans. Workhorse uses van bodies and chassis built by Morgan Olson to build fuel-saving vehicles for companies like UPS, FedEx, USPS, DHL, Penske, Cintas, and Aramark, among others.
Workhorse says the W-15 will sell for less than $50,000 before government incentives. If the automaker succeeds, it will become the first to offer a plug-in range extender pickup in the U.S.
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More on the Workhorse W-15 pickup
On top of it being an electric range extended pickup, the W-15 is said to have several active and passive safety measures on board. On the active side, it will come with lane-keep technology and automatic autonomous braking. It’s also supposed to have a low center of gravity to improve handling. With that, we’d expect a full barrage of other common equipment like blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, and automatic cruise control.
If worse comes to worse, the W-15 is said to have a full 30 inches of crumple zone space between the front bumper and the range extending engine. This space isn’t going to waste, though, as Workhorse has designed a front trunk, or “frunk” to hold cargo much like a Tesla.
The W-15 will also be able to help at a job site thanks to onboard power supplies. Both low- and high-voltage power outlets are planned. The power would come from Panasonic’s 18650 Lithium Ion batteries. Workhorse has kept horsepower and torque rating under its hat, but the truck could possess upwards of 400 horsepower and 500 pound-feet of torque. Tesla’s Model X has horsepower that ranges from 324 to 532 and torque specs that range from 316 to a whopping 713 pound-feet. The truck will utilize the company’s E-Gen electric technology that’s already in use in its delivery vans. In the W-15 application, Workhorse expects to achieve 28 mpg highway and 32 mpg city with the range extender in play. Combined, the W-15 should achieve 75 MPGe.
The truck will be American made, as well. The battery pack will be manufactured in Cincinnati, Ohio while the truck’s final assembly will happen at Workhorse’s factory in Union City, Indiana.
As far as Duke Energy’s interest in the truck, the regional energy conglomerate has reportedly signed a non-binding contract for at least 500 trucks by 2019. No numbers were given in regards to the City of Orlando’s order.
|Cargo Capacity||2,200 lbs.|
|Crew Cab Configuration||Seating for 5|
|All-Electric Range||80 miles|
|Hybrid Range||310 miles|
|MPGe fully electric||75|
|MPG with E-GEN||28 highway, 32 city|
Why It Matters
it’s hard to argue against the concept of Workhorse’s W-15 pickup. What’s not to like? It has a battery pack with dual electric motors giving it all-wheel drive, a range of 80 miles, an efficient gasoline engine that pushes its total range to 310 miles, advanced safety features, a stainless steel frame and composite body, a payload capacity of 2,200 pounds, and room for five adults. Even harder to argue against is Workhorse already having contracts with a major company like Duke Energy and municipalities like the City of Orlando. It will most certainly be interesting to see how this plays out.
If Workhorse succeeds, it will set a presedent for all other hybrid or range-extended pickup trucks. Perhaps this outside player will be the catalyst that ignites the electric craze in autoamkers like Ford, GM, Toyota, and Ram.
Now GM and Ford have already toyed with a hybrid pickup. GM was first to the game, introducing the Silverado Hybrid back in the mid- to late 2000s, along with several of its full-size SUVS. Ford is said to be currently developing a hybrid F-150. The Blue Oval has previously said it will bring a hybrid version of the F-150 by 2020.
In related news, Workhorse is also busy building a prototype mail delivery van for the U.S. Postal Service. The USPS recently issued fifty contracts to companies from all over the world to build a hybrid, electric, or otherwise fuel-conserving vehicle to replace the seriously aged Grumman Long Life Vehicle that’s been delivery mail since 1987.
Workhorse might still be considered a startup, but this publicly traded company definitely has its feet far off the ground.