Up Close With the Workhorse W-15, an EV Truck Headed to U.S. Driveways

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

As part of National Drive Electric Week, the Cincinnati-based Workhorse Group displayed their prototype W-15 EV pickup truck at the local Cincinnati event. TTAC got some more information on the future of this pickup, as well as a turn behind the wheel.

Come have a look.

We reported on the W-15 back in May of this year, with a subsequent article on a potential retail side for this initially fleet-only truck.

Workhorse is now certain it is pursuing both fleet and retail sales, relaying its current production deadlines at the EV event. The company’s intent is to start production for existing fleet orders in the latter part of 2018, with retail units beginning in 2019. The company will assemble the truck in its entirety within the former Navistar plant in Union City, Indiana.

The prototype currently sits on a Silverado chassis, with a custom body largely composed of carbon fiber. Workhorse indicated production models will use a custom Workhorse chassis, and that body composition is as-of-yet undetermined. However, if the company plans to stick to their previously announced price of $52,500, a carbon fiber-intensive construction seems unlikely.

The finalized cab shape will also differ from the prototype. While initially designed for fleet use, the four-door cab does not have rear legroom retail customers would consider acceptable for a crew cab pickup. Workhorse assured me the production cab will have more than six inches of additional rear legroom. The bed lift-over height at the sides will also see a decrease.

The finalized interior won’t look like this. Per the Workhorse representative at the event, the prototype wears an interior of mostly custom-fitted panels, which adds up to too many individual parts for cost-effective production. I recognized just a couple of components of GM origin.

The range extender found in the final version will also differ from the embryonic W-15. While the company wanted to use the same two-cylinder range extender as found in the BMW i3, engineers concluded the small engine did not provide the sort of range required for the W-15. To that end, Workhorse is currently developing a new range extender in cooperation with BorgWarner and Mercedes-Benz.

A test drive around the perimeter of the decrepit Tri-County Mall was short, but yielded a few basic impressions. It was certainly unusual to feel a vehicle of that size gather speed with only a slight whirring heard in the cabin. Steering and brakes responded as you’d expect — in a “truck” manner. The dual interior displays (iPads) were not charged by the truck’s power, and the screens were turned off at the time of my test drive. Thus, speed and power information was not available.

It was also bit nerve-wracking to consider I was piloting the only example the company has, which cost them several million dollars to develop. No pressure.

On the only straight stretch, where the Workhorse representative encouraged me to open up the throttle, a middle-aged HR-V driver decided to drive about 12 miles per hour in front of me. I didn’t get much of an opportunity. The W-15 does build speed reasonably well, though perhaps not in line with expectations for the claimed 460 electric horses spread to all four wheels.

The coming year should bring much more solidification of the Workhorse W-15’s future. As it stands now, they’ve got a lot of fleet orders to fill and important product finalization decisions to make. We’ll be watching. More photos can be found in the gallery below.

[Images © Corey Lewis]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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5 of 44 comments
  • CincyDavid CincyDavid on Sep 12, 2017

    And if you want to see the COOLEST piece of funerary architecture in North America, google the Dexter Mausoleum.

    • See 2 previous
    • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Sep 12, 2017

      @CincyDavid Thank you! Dang that syphilis.

  • CincyDavid CincyDavid on Sep 12, 2017

    Joseph Mersman wound up living in South St. Louis, near Lafayette Park, wealthy but blind from the syphilis he picked up along the way...

  • NJRide So this is an average age of car to be junked now and of course this is a lower end (and now semi-orphaned) product. But street examples seem to still be worth 2500? So are cars getting junked only coming in because of a traumatic repair? If not it seems a lot of cars being junked that would still possibly worth more than scrap.Also Murilee I remember your Taurus article way back what is the king of the junkyard in 2024?
  • AMcA I applaud Toyota for getting away from the TRD performance name. TuRD. This is another great example of "if they'd just thought to preview the name with a 13 year old boy."
  • Jeff Does this really surprise anyone? How about the shoes and the clothes you wear. Anything you can think of that is either directly made in China or has components made in China likely has some slave labor involved. The very smart phone, tablet, and laptop you are using probably has some component in it that is either mined or made by slave labor. Not endorsing slave labor just trying to be real.
  • Jeff Self-driving is still a far ways from being perfected. I would say at the present time if my car took over if I had a bad day I would have a much worse day. Would be better to get an Uber
  • 2manyvettes Time for me to take my 79 Corvette coupe out of the garage and drive if to foil the forces of evil. As long as I can get the 8 track player working...