By on May 24, 2017

Workhorse W-15

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.

[Image: Workhorse]

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24 Comments on “Workhorse is Now Taking Reservations on a Consumer Version of Its Electric Pickup...”


  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    I can volunteer for their press events, as their HQ is about 10 minutes from my house.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    With apologize to Spider-man the formula for Workhorse sounds like what would happen if a radioactive Tesla bit a Ridgeline.

    • 0 avatar
      BigOldChryslers

      LOL!

      A coworker recently asked me what I thought of Tesla’s idea of building a pickup truck. In a nutshell, I said that their primary market would be people who would otherwise buy a Ridgeline.

      At least the Workhorse has an on-board “range extender” generator so you don’t have to worry about getting stuck in the boonies with a dead battery and nowhere to recharge.

      • 0 avatar
        arach

        I disagree… Do you know how AWESOME a tesla truck would be for the commercial market?

        The idea of being able to drive trucks INSIDE the warehouse is huge. Today you can’t because of the exhaust gasses, therefore you have to buy a bunch of electric forklifts that scoot around your facilities to take things outside and load into trucks.

        It might be a Niche product, but Tesla could probably easily move 20-30k a year or so, which if its only a moderate change to their platform would be a big enough niche to be profitable.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    There are Ryder service centers all over the place and many are open late. Of course they are usually not in the nicest part of town and are usually grimy places.

  • avatar
    IHateCars

    With a lift and 37’s, it may not look half bad! Lol!

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    They need to do a remake of Twister, and feature this truck. Profit.

    (the above was snark directed at the 96 minute Dodge Ram ad, errr, 1996 movie Twister)

  • avatar
    SPPPP

    There’s some naming confusion in the article between W-15 and W-12. The term W-12 appears 3 times, and W-15 appears 2 times. Just in case anyone wants to edit this … for posterity(?).

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “Chevrolet Bolt and Nissan Leaf drivers also display above average brand loyalty.”

    The Bolt is new, so I’m not sure how that claim can be made.

    My observation is that many Leaf drivers are looking for something better after a mixed experience with their Leaf (likely leased). My Leaf was fine, but there were enough downsides that I won’t be returning to get Leaf 2.0, partly due to corporate Nissan as much as the car itself. Nissan has received quite a beating in the EV community for dropping the ball.

    “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.”

    Great questions. It will be interesting to see how much of a dent in the truck market constitutes a ‘win’ for Workhorse. Toyota, Nissan, and Honda ask themselves this question daily.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    Not sure why brand loyalty among ev owners would be at all notable since there is so little to choose from.

    I think few Ridgeline owners would be potential buyers just because of vague structural and cosmetic similarities. More likely would be people who have the sense to run the numbers and arrive at the same conclusion as fleet buyers.

    Probably if the truck is at all successful, the established pickup companies will offer ev models. Easy to do since space for batteries isn’t an issue with pickups. Hopefully Workhorse has a plan for if and when that happens.

  • avatar
    russification

    ridgeline is underpowered…and this thing looks underpowered. no indication of towing capacity or how an electric transmission is going to work on a work truck vehicle….interested to know those details

    • 0 avatar
      Garak

      460 hp and 5000 pound tow capacity claimed by the previous article.

      I doubt electric motors have problems in a work truck, as they’ve been used in all kinds of heavy equipment since the 1800s. The battery on the other hand would worry me – can the 650cc range extender keep the vehicle moving when it runs out?

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    I wonder if they’ll offer an extended-cab version and not just the crew cab? I don’t need a full-time back seat.

  • avatar
    Robbie

    This thing will do well with the crowd of single-payer healthcare, NRA gun-toting, environmentalist Trump hippies who were doubting between an F150 and a Leaf!


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