By on May 3, 2017

Workhorse W-15

Whether or not there is public demand for them, electric pickup trucks are on the way. Tesla is preparing one for market while another American company specializing in electric utility vans is doing the same. The Ohio-based Workhorse Group is putting the finishing touches on its W-15 pickup in the hopes that companies might want to add it to their fleet.

Workhorse already provides medium-duty vans to companies for ground delivery services, including the United States Postal Service, FedEx, and UPS. Its popular E-Gen platform mates to a traditional Morgan-Olson step-van body and uses a 60 kWh Panasonic battery pack, supplemented by a 647 cc internal combustion unit from BMW. The W-15 pickup promises to be a different animal but will remain targeted at Workhorse’s core of fleet-focused businesses. 

Playing to its buyer base’s focus on the bottom line, the company is claiming the pickup should prove more affordable and deliver a stronger return on investment than traditional internal combustion trucks. “We sell it on economy. This is a less expensive truck,” Workhorse CEO Steve Burns told USA Today.

However, the base price of the W-15 is $52,500. Those savings come over time via maintenance and gas fees. But based on the budgetary success of hybridized vans, Burns isn’t speaking nonsense. Commercial fleets, especially those based in cities, seem willing to adopt electrics on the promise of long-term savings. Still, while odds are good that an EV pickup will be cheaper to run, the W-15 won’t be much good to anyone if it doesn’t function as a work vehicle.

Workhorse W-15

Its formula is similar to the E-Gen step-vans. The pickup uses a pair of electric motors, one in the front and one in the back, for a combined 460 horsepower. The BMW range extender carries over from the van. Workhorse claims the W-15 is capable of driving 80 miles on electricity alone, though that range is sure to fluctuate in extreme temperatures, or if drivers decide to test the pickup’s alleged 5.5 second 0-to-60 time. Fuel economy is rated at 32 highway and 28 city when the gas motor is running; otherwise, it’s 75 MPGe all day.

Sufficient for holding 2,200 pounds of cargo in its bed and possessing a side-mounted 7.2 kW, 30-amp outlet for running power tools, the electric pickup sounds like a decent contender as a work vehicle. However, its towing capabilities are soemwhat lackluster. Workforce sets the W-15’s maximum hauling weight at 5,000 pounds — a base Chevrolet Silverado can manage 7,600 pounds and Ford’s cheapest F-Series can pull almost a half-ton more than the Chevy if equipped correctly. Of course, neither of those come with all-wheel drive as standard equipment, possess 460 hp, or have a composite body with carbon fiber — they’re just a hell of a lot cheaper.

Workhorse W-15

At 234 inches long, the Workhorse is roughly the same size as its more-traditional competitors, but its angular bodywork helps to set it apart from rivals. It looks like a concept vehicle from a decade ago, though I imagine the modest ground clearance and long front overhang don’t do it any favors off-road.

The interior screams fleet, with a few colorful flourishes injected into an otherwise spartan workspace. There is a lot of plastic, a steering wheel, a gear selection dial, and not much else. All instrumentation and infotainment are addressed using LCD touch screens.

Workhorse says it already has 4,650 pre-orders for the pickup and has entered into a 10-year strategic partnership with corporate vehicle provider Ryder to become the primary distributor and service outlet for the model. The company plans to launch the truck next year with a 6.5-foot bed and extended cab configuration to businesses, but has not yet addressed the prospect of retail sales.

Workhorse W-15

[Images: Workhorse Group]

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69 Comments on “Will Companies and Contractors Buy the Workhorse W-15 Electric Pickup?...”


  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    ” they’re just a hell of a lot cheaper.”

    And cheaper is what counts for most companies and contractors, who run the daylights out of them and then trade them off.

    Seems to me putting a 30-amp AC generator in the bed of a standard Silverado or F150 would still be cheaper, though not 460hp under the hood, but a greater range if needed.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      What good is a high HP figure for a work truck? It can’t use it to tow, evidently, and it can only carry so much. Where does the “work” part come in, if its less capable at doing work aside from bragging rights on HP + green points?

      It does make for an impressive 0-60 time, BUT I’m not sure many fleet managers will consider that an advantage so much as something to be weary of.

      “I want my guys to get lots of tickets, and endanger people who can sue me.”

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Most work trucks are parked at the work sites. It’s people who do the work.

        On rare occasions I had to haul and tow, and from that perspective my 2011 Tundra was a better truck than my 1988 Silverado or my 2006 F150. I did more, and did it better, with more finesse.

        I just can’t see this Politically Correct Eco truck in that same category.

        But it may find application in the Big Cities.

        Whatever happened to all those Volts that the last guy in office said the government would buy? Did that ever happen?

        Now THAT would be an interesting article, to learn how all that wound up, or unwound.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Nice piece.

    Memo to Workhorse: Maybe try cutting out the Blade Runner and build a dash that resembles I don’t know, a truck mayhaps?

    I would also simplify common body parts for ease of replacement since these are fleet focused (i.e. tail/head lights, bumper, etc).

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      I was thinking any recent videogame, I do agree they should simplify the dash and the outside body bits.

      The Checker Cab didnt get its recondition by creating one-off, expensive body bits.

  • avatar
    Menar Fromarz

    Can I pull my 30 foot fifth wheel ? In that case most def will be interested. Oh. And an 8 foot box. Please and thank you

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      Given the payload vs. towing capacities, this one appears to be more built for hauling than towing. What I wanna know is how much the range is affected when hauling a full payload.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        “What I wanna know is how much the range is affected when hauling a full payload.”

        A lot, if the Tesla Model X is any indicator. In this case, they lost more than 60% while towing 4850 lbs:

        https://www.teslarati.com/tesla-model-x-range-impact-towing/

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      ” its towing capabilities are soemwhat lackluster. Workforce sets the W-15’s maximum hauling weight at 5,000 pounds — a base Chevrolet Silverado can manage 7,600 pounds and Ford’s weakest F-Series can pull almost a half-ton more than the Chevy. ”

      Not unless your fifth wheel is within that hauling weight.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Not bad, definitely a work vehicle and not a suburban status machine. Would have liked to have seen some packaging advantage from the e-powertrain expressed in the layout, instead of the usual styling. A cab-forward design or underhood storage?

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      “Not bad, definitely a work vehicle and not a suburban status machine.”

      Unless you consider “I’m driving an ugly vehicle because I’m saving the world” type status folks. Maybe this can sit next to their Prius V.

      “MOM! Daddy bought a, a, a, (gulp, choke, sniff) pickup truck! How am I supposed to get into The Albert Gore Jr. College for the Easily Coerced now?”

      “Oh Chastity, its an electric truck. Your daddy cares. See his ‘I Care’ badge?”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Looks promising. I hope the BMW REX works better here than in the i3.

    This truck’s price isn’t terribly higher than the average truck these days.

    Using rough math, this truck would save ~$1300/year @ $0.10/kWh, 20k miles per year (EV driving only), vs a 20 mpg truck. So I think there is a niche market that would really go for this.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Maybe for “Companies and Contractors” in the big cities like NYC, LA, CHI, ATL, MIA, and such.

      That would be a considerable number, but would it be enough to “break even” for Tesla? Or would they need to sell at least 1 million to break even?

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      “This truck’s price isn’t terribly higher than the average truck these days.”

      $52,500 will buy an F-350 Lariat dually that can probably tow a half dozen of these trucks.

      But, yes, because its priced like a freaking 1 Ton Lariat but equipped like (and to be used like) a stripper model half ton XL, its close enough. Can’t tell you how many fleet managers buy a damn King Ranch to send to the jobsite loaded down with tool boxes and filthy workers.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-car-transaction-prices-climb-nearly-2-percent-year-over-year-in-april-2017-according-to-kelley-blue-book-300449271.html

        Full-size pickup average transaction price is $46,182. *Somebody* is buying these things.

        So the Workhorse is 14% higher. I’m not claiming it’s equivalent in every way, but it can haul and tow a lot – probably matching the needs of over half of the pickup drivers in the country.

        • 0 avatar
          cdotson

          SCE,

          Sorry but this truck’s ratings don’t qualify as haul/tow a lot. The tow rating is more comparable to mid-size trucks or 15 year old half tons than contemporary half ton trucks. Payload rating is up to half-ton snuff.

          Initially I saw this as being a light-duty runabout, but all the places that used Rangers have switched to Colorados or realized that a compact (or sub-compact) hatchback was enough. These applications are focused on acquisition cost, uptime percentage, and roll over the fleets every few years to avoid accumulating garage time. None of these attributes align with EV realities. Operating cost of an EV may be cheaper but if it isn’t going to be kept long enough to offset the huge acquisition hit it won’t matter. Right now, fleet managers won’t be confident that the EV payoff can be realized and they won’t be until it’s been demonstrated sufficiently that the average Joe with his head in the sand takes notice.

      • 0 avatar
        scott25

        I see a lot more King Ranches on worksites and used by contractors than XLs. I’d probably say 85% at least of Ford trucks either parked on worksites or with a business name on the door are Lariat or higher, that I see around.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          “I see a lot more King Ranches on worksites and used by contractors than XLs.”

          That’s probably an owner/contractor/subcontractor that owns the King Ranch.

          Company trucks usually are XL or Work-grade trucks.

          Contractor/Owners usually upgrade their trucks with the left-over business profits after all expenses are satisfied, when it is time to trade.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          scott25,
          You have the “pro-pickup” lobby talking sh!t again.

          The reality is 75% of pickups only have air as a payload.

          If one digs around, I’d bet not many pickups tow more than 5000lbs.

          Ah, you can sense the disillusioned nostalgia from the “true believers”.

          Also read many of their past past comments, its about acceration first.

          These trucks will find a large enough market, even a 75%’er will buy some.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al From 'Murica

            “The reality is 75% of pickups only have air as a payload.”

            Even if that were correct it is still a better number than the 99 percent of your posts that have only hot air as a payload.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “a base Chevrolet Silverado can manage 7,600 pounds and Ford’s weakest F-Series can pull almost a half-ton more than the Chevy.”

    This is incorrect. The F-150 3.5L has a towing capacity of 5000 – 7600. The Silverado 4.3L ranges from 5500 – 7600. The Ram 3.6L is 4170 – 7610.

    ford.com/resources/ford/general/pdf/
    towingguides/17RV%26TT_Ford_F150_Sep7.pdf

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Not sure about the range, but I could see this being a hit with the auto parts stores that deliver parts around town. They can plug in often to try and top off etc.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Yes, but a Chevy Bolt could do that. And it doesn’t cost $52.5k.

      The local stores that do delivery around here use small, cheap vehicles. AutoZone had Versas, but they recently replaced them with Fiestas. All hatchbacks. O’REILLY’s use an aging pair of I-4 Ranger XL trucks.

    • 0 avatar
      Erikstrawn

      They don’t get a chance to plug in too often. If they aren’t moving, they aren’t making money. I worked at the local NAPA chain, and when the driver took a week off I drove his route. If I stopped for more than five minutes I was behind.

      • 0 avatar
        afedaken

        Was his route more than 80 miles in a day? I mean, sure you’re not plugging while you’re on the go. Ideally you’re plugging in at the end of the day.
        And per spec, this one has the range extender such as it is, so I guess you could just do the gas thing.

    • 0 avatar
      Salzigtal

      I could see this for Silicon Valley construction sites. Just have IBEW rig more receptacles from the temp power pole. Run these back & forth between the yard / foreman’s home & the site.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    And here I thought the front end of a truck couldn’t get any uglier than the current F-150. Can’t wait for the 2018 F-150 to get here.

  • avatar
    Steve65

    I found both the 0-60 time and the hp figure mystifying. Neither advances functionality for something that’s being pitched (literally) as a light duty local workhorse. Cut both figures in half. No loss, and likely a significant increase in range.

    I strongly suspect there will be a single-motor version in the future as well, for users who have no need of 4wd.

    I like the styling in a “it’s not trying to substitute for a lack of manhood” way. It’s simple, and just looks like a truck. The tailgate liftover height looks at least not terrible. The built-in steps on the bumper corners are useful. The shoulder-high bed walls are, like every other current pickup, ridiculous and stupid. If the wheels on it are any larger than 16″, they’re chosen for style or bragging rights, not function.

    Touch-screen controls are indefensible in any device intended to be used while in motion, but that ship has sailed. Cheaper design, cheaper implementation, and flash value beats real-world usability every time.

    The range extender is key. My daily mileage varies greatly, entirely dependent on how far away the job site is, and whether I need to run errands. Some days I drive 11 miles. Some days I drive 150 miles.

  • avatar
    NeilM

    I’m always surprised not to see more — well, make that “any” so far — electric delivery vehicles. For services such as USPS, FedEx and UPS in urban areas range anxiety would be a non-issue, since these guys are on planned routes of known distance and duration. Overnight charging would be simple since most of these vehicles return to a central depot anyway. The stop/start nature of these routes is ideal for battery vehicles.

  • avatar
    shaker

    That range extender is way too small for this application.

  • avatar
    dont.fit.in.cars

    I drive a 2500HD crew cab work truck. 100k miles in two years with a honda 200i generator. I haul a TC, tow 10k pounds, off days I pull a 7k travel trailer to the beach.

    Electric Truck is a laughable. What you have here is a sedan with an open trunk.

  • avatar
    ydnas7

    This should be suitable to serve a large niche or 2.

    Electricians,
    Plumbers,
    lots of construction tradies who don’t tow materials, but need to haul their gear with them.

    Its a large market, and quite wealthy too.

    Then there is also corporate sales, good for the boss for a couple of years, then handed down to the crew for work.

    • 0 avatar
      mattwc1

      I agree completely. Also, many of the vehicles remain static for hours are a job site. There is definitely a market for this.

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      There’s more. Any state or city park, golf course, stadium, on base military or mining maintenance vehicle could run silent with no fuel being brought to them. Most importantly, the use of these will definitely be leveraged for public relations and tax advantage.

      Personally I like the bollinger motors even pickup concept better. This might be more appropriate for the on pavement fleet use though.

    • 0 avatar
      afedaken

      Those folks often don’t chose an open-bed truck. Most of the plumbers and electricians around my area use vans. Either older Econolines, or Transit/Sprinter types. I’m seeing a lot of the NVs around here lately too.

  • avatar
    chperry@ieee.org

    460 hp is worthless if you can’t use it. As a work truck, we don’t need drag racing. We need towing and load hauling. This is specked as a poser truck not a work truck.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      It has nothing to do with drag racing. High HP/Tq, a fast 1/4 mile ET and a quick 0-60 denotes how it’ll deal with and get heavy loads up to highway speeds, with or without headwinds and steep grades, and keep them there. Or accelerate to pass a Vulpii.

      That’s much simpler/easier than setting up a comparison with all sorts of tests and variable work/load values.

      You don’t have to use all the HP. It’s electric so dial it back or put a short 2X4 behind the GO pedal.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      What you guys seem to be missing about EVs is the following:
      a) Electric motors have roughly asymptotic torque curves with peak torque at 0RPM
      b) Electric motor operating RPM ranges are such that a shifting gearbox isn’t required. Most EV transaxles just use a reduction gear, so that the motor can run at 6k-ish RPM on the highway when the wheels are running below at around 1200-ish RPM. (I might be a little off with those numbers, but they’re the right order if magnitude)

      When you put those together, you get a simplified drivetrain that costs less and has fewer moving parts than anything with a traditional transmission — but you have to super size the motor in order to provide sufficient torque at highway speeds (due to the roughly asymptotic torque curve)

      If you want proof, take the Leaf for a test drive. It pulls like an amusement park ride 0-30MPH and pulls like a 4-banger at 70MPH, and acceleration peters out pretty quickly after that, again, because of the asymptotic torque curve.

      The ridiculously fast 0-60 time on most EVs is just a happy side effect of bring able to keep up with 80mph highway traffic while fully loaded. But the marketing people don’t want to explain something so nuanced, so they’ll just flaunt the MOAR POWAH aspect of it.

      EVs really are different than combustion cars. But not so different that it doesn’t make sense when you get behind the wheel.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        “Electric motors have roughly asymptotic torque curves with the peak at 0RPM”

        Electric motors do not have a asymptotic torque curve, in fact it isn’t even a curve it is a straight line. It doesn’t just approach zero it reaches zero at its maximum rpm.

        • 0 avatar
          Luke42

          It might be better to say that the upper bound for torque is bounded by torque <= max_rated_power / RPM.

          When you graph that upper bound, it follows the shape of y=1/x, which is asymptotic.

          And it looks very different than the gasoline. Diesel torque curves…

  • avatar
    Big Al From 'Murica

    This isn’t a new concept…I believe milk trucks back in the 50’s were electric. It does seem oddly speced for a work truck though with regards to power but maybe that is just a concept thing or something.

    It is mentioned they build some vehicles for the post office, etc. If they could base it off of that I think this could work. This looks not to be the case however.

  • avatar
    Pete Zaitcev

    Hopefully it succeeds better than Taylor-Dunn’s Electruck (last seen in Taylor-Dunn’s catalog in 2014).

  • avatar
    Robbie

    This is a solution to a problem that does not exist.

    Pickup trucks are a fashion statement; they fill no utilitarian need (except for perhaps 1000 or so used in construction and forestry :) ). Months go by when you do not see anything in a bed of a pickup truck. Entire countries run fine without them.

    An electric pickup truck will never sell. It’s like selling a Trump sticker that only fits onto Priuses.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      You don’t think a 460hp electric truck emblazoned with “WORKHORSE” emblems front and rear & having an interior that looks like it came from ‘Demolition Man’ could be a fashion statement?

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al From 'Murica

      Oh bull. Plenty of people use their truck. Just because they don’t always have something in the bed or being towed doesn’t mean they don’t do it often enoughto justify it. Is every Vette or Porsche always being driven at 10/10ths on the trainck? And would your average Prius or Tesla owner be better served by mass transit Comrade?

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Robocop approved…

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Instead of the 650 BMW donk, a 1.6 litre diesel would be better.

    If Workhorse can work it out by having the diesel and electric motors working together the diesel might be able to have an emissions system that is simple with far less restrictive controls to meet the per mile emissions standard.

    EcoThirsts play the system with their 15.4mpg. How much crap is the EcoThirst emitting?

  • avatar
    Hummer

    It would go along way to helping their image if they got rid of the bling wheels and put actual steel bumpers on it, you know, like a normal truck.

  • avatar
    arach

    The thing I don’t hear anyone talking about… but that REALLY appeals to me… is the ability to drive inside.

    If I can run on electric alone, we can drive our trucks into the warehouse, load up, and then leave. Right now we have to use fork lifts to transport the delivery out of the warehouse into the loading docks.

    I think this isn’t all that common, but its probably a common enough niche to be worthwhile right there.

  • avatar
    Shockrave Flash Has Crashed

    Why not make the front end shorter and the box bigger? Leverage the better packaging that an electric drive-train allows. This is a clean slate guys, find someone with vision to design it.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Agreed.

      I wonder why regular pickup trucks dont do this, too. My Sienna had a 269HP engine in a very compact front end, and did better in bad weather (with and without a load) then all three of the pickup trucks I’ve owned.

      I kept wondering why nobody made a pickup truck like that. The closest thing is the new Honda Ridgeline, which is basically a Honda Pilot CUV where the 3rd row has been replaced with a bed. I like the Ridgeline a lot, and the only reason I haven’t bought one is that it’s hard to stomach paying $40k for a vehicle without plug, when my daily driving fits within a 30-mile envelope most days.

  • avatar
    George B

    The main reason I could see for buying an electric work truck would be to gain solo access to car pool lanes. Faster travel between job sites. However, $52k is rather expensive for a work truck.

  • avatar
    brn

    The powertrian is interesting, though a bit overpowered. Aside from that, I don’t understand who their target market is. This is not a “work truck”.

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    I’m seriously dubious about that tiny BMW range extender.

    Did Bob Lutz’s VIA Motors ever move on from issuing press releases to delivering vehicles? Their thing was extended-range EV conversions on Chevy pickups and vans. Seems like an easier starting place. The VIA solution had a lot smaller battery (23 kWh) and a lot bigger engine (4.3 liter V6), so you’d only get 40 miles before the battery needed recharging, but it seems more plausible that a 4300 cc engine would be up to that task, vs a 650 cc engine. VIA’s other selling point was service through ordinary Chevy dealerships.


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