Workhorse is Now Taking Reservations on a Consumer Version of Its Electric Pickup
Earlier this month, we covered Workhorse’s finalization of the W-15 electric pickup for sale to fleet buyers and wondered if there would be any consumer demand for such a vehicle. Apparently, the Ohio-based Workhorse Group was also curious if it might have a role in the retail market, as it’s now considering offering a variant of the plug-in hybrid for regular sale.
Yesterday, Workhorse posted an invitation via Twitter for interested parties to visit its website and reserve a W-15 pickup. It’s already receive some positive feedback on the subject, but it’s not yet an outpouring of support — at least, nothing that would match the nearly 5,000 letters of intent is has received from businesses regarding the purchase of its fleet units.
There are some inherent problems with launching a consumer model, beginning with demand. Despite some recent growth in plug-in sales, electric vehicles are still just a tiny fraction of the market. And those who are interested in EVs tend to adhere to a brand loyalty that would make a Mopar fan blink.
A recent survey from CleanTechnica shows 90 percent of North American Tesla drivers plan to purchase another Tesla as their next vehicle. (Tesla Motors has stated it plans to build an electric pickup truck in the near future.) Chevrolet Bolt and Nissan Leaf drivers also display above average brand loyalty. That could make it difficult for Workhorse to make its mark, although it would have the advantage of being one of the first companies to offer a pickup in the EV segment.
Another possible benefit is that EV shoppers don’t seem to mind spending a little more dough to get what they want. The W-12 costs significantly more than its internal combustion rivals. Fleet managers rationalize this by looking at the bottom line, after calculating maintenance costs and fuel savings. However, individual consumers don’t typically think along the same lines. Their willingness to pay more for something they’re interested in could be a blessing.
Servicing is another big question mark. Workhorse has indicated Ryder will become the primary distributor and service outlet for the W-12. That might be fine for businesses but the average consumer isn’t going to like that. Still, Tesla has also experienced servicing issues, even though it has more to do with volume. The brand doesn’t have enough designated service centers to keep up, leaving some customers complaining about long wait times. However, that issue hasn’t turned the manufacturer’s fan base against it.
If Workhorse can find a crowd to give it the same sort of love as Tesla, perhaps a wonky service network won’t be an issue. The question still remains as to what type of person would choose this type of vehicle over a tried-and-true internal combustion pickup truck, and if there are enough of them out there to rationalize a move like this.
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