Will Companies and Contractors Buy the Workhorse W-15 Electric Pickup?

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
will companies and contractors buy the workhorse w 15 electric pickup

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.

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.

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.

[Images: Workhorse Group]

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  • Brn Brn on May 04, 2017

    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".

  • HotPotato HotPotato on May 06, 2017

    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.

  • Nrd515 I bought an '88 S10 Blazer with the 4.3. We had it 4 years and put just about 48K on it with a bunch of trips to Nebraska and S. Dakota to see relatives. It had a couple of minor issues when new, a piece of trim fell off the first day, and it had a seriously big oil leak soon after we got it. The amazinly tiny starter failed at about 40K, it was fixed under some sort of secret warranty and we got a new Silverado as a loaner. Other than that, and a couple of tires that blew when I ran over some junk on the road, it was a rock. I hated the dash instrumentation, and being built like a gorilla, it was about an inch and a half too narrow for my giant shoulders, but it drove fine, and was my second most trouble free vehicle ever, only beaten by my '82 K5 Blazer, which had zero issues for nearly 50K miles. We sold the S10 to a friend, who had it over 20 years and over 400,000 miles on the original short block! It had a couple of transmissions, a couple of valve jobs, a rear end rebuild at 300K, was stolen and vandalized twice, cut open like a tin can when a diabetic truck driver passed out(We were all impressed at the lack of rust inside the rear quarters at almost 10 years old, and it just went on and on. Ziebart did a good job on that Blazer. All three of his sons learned to drive in it, and it was only sent to the boneyard when the area above the windshield had rusted to the point it was like taking a shower when it rained. He now has a Jeep that he's put a ton of money into. He says he misses the S10's reliablity a lot these days, the Jeep is in the shop a lot.
  • Jeff S Most densely populated areas have emission testing and removing catalytic converters and altering pollution devices will cause your vehicle to fail emission testing which could effect renewing license plates. In less populated areas where emission testing is not done there would probably not be any legal consequences and the converter could either be removed or gutted both without having to buy specific parts for bypassing emissions. Tampering with emission systems would make it harder to resell a vehicle but if you plan on keeping the vehicle and literally running it till the wheels fall off there is not much that can be done if there is no emission testing. I did have a cat removed on a car long before mandatory emission testing and it did get better mpgs and it ran better. Also had a cat gutted on my S-10 which was close to 20 years old which increased performance and efficiency but that was in a state that did not require emission testing just that reformulated gas be sold during the Summer months. I would probably not do it again because after market converters are not that expensive on older S-10s compared to many of the newer vehicles. On newer vehicles it can effect other systems that are related to the operating and the running of the vehicle. A little harder to defeat pollution devices on newer vehicles with all the systems run by microprocessors but if someone wants to do it they can. This law could be addressing the modified diesels that are made into coal rollers just as much as the gasoline powered vehicles with cats. You probably will still be able to buy equipment that would modify the performance of a vehicles as long as the emission equipment is not altered.
  • ToolGuy I wonder if Vin Diesel requires DEF.(Does he have issues with Sulfur in concentrations above 15ppm?)
  • ToolGuy Presented for discussion: https://xroads.virginia.edu/~Hyper2/thoreau/civil.html
  • Kevin Ford can do what it's always done. Offer buyouts to retirement age employees, and transfers to operating facilities to those who aren't retirement age. Plus, the transition to electric isn't going to be a finger snap one time event. It's going to occur over a few model years. What's a more interesting question is: Where will today's youth find jobs in the auto industry given the lower employment levels?