By on September 11, 2017

Image: Workhorse W-15, 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.

Image: Workhorse W-15, by Corey Lewis

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.

Image: Workhorse W-15, by Corey Lewis

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.

Image: Workhorse W-15, by Corey Lewis

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.

Image: Workhorse W-15, by Corey Lewis

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.

Image: Workhorse W-15, by Corey Lewis

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.

Image: Workhorse W-15, by Corey Lewis

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.

Image: Workhorse W-15, by Corey Lewis

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.

Image: Workhorse W-15, by Corey Lewis

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]

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44 Comments on “Up Close With the Workhorse W-15, an EV Truck Headed to U.S. Driveways...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I suppose it would have been bad form to yell: “Y’all keep everybody off the course so I can hot lap this sucker!”

  • avatar
    JimZ

    why do these startups always seem to go with the most expensive solutions? Like Carbon Motors thinking a BMW turbodiesel is a good engine for a police car marketed to perpetually cash-strapped municipalities. Surely they could have found a range-extender solution from someone other than $Mercedes?

    • 0 avatar
      Thinkin...

      Great question. Let’s see if we can help them out; they’re obviously keen on working with GM, and they need a small-displacement range extender engine bigger than the one in the i3. And the like GM parts. But need a range extender, perhaps like one in a car bigger than the i3. Something like a small family sedan range extender, if you will.

      Sure, Mercedes might be an option, but if only there were a domestic manufacturer… Perhaps one who the company has worked with before, and who has experience making a partial-EV with a reliable range extender.

      Nope, I can’t think of any other options here.

    • 0 avatar
      arach

      Gets investors excited enough to invest.

      Its near impossible to say, “yeah we’re going to launch a company that uses off the shelf technology and just makes a car that no on else is making”.

      Its easy to get money when you say, “We are using cutting edge materials to create an ultra light vehicle powered by new battery and motor technology that will take the industry by storm”

      When I launched my first EV company, I was going to come to market with a low cost EV that would undercut the competition because of the use of off the shelf tech and investors were like “Yawn”. The minute I created 3 new innovations that were really not necessary but were patentable and cutting edge (despite being unnecessary), investors were like “tell me more!”

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      I was going to say this reminds me of Carbon Motors. Is William Santana Li involved?

  • avatar
    ash78

    “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.”

    When in doubt, just Bertha Benz it! “Yo, gotta borrow the car, BRB!”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bertha_Benz#First_cross-country_automobile_journey

  • avatar
    arach

    Welcome to my backyard. I recognize you driving right in front of BJs… haha.

    I wish I saw one of these around here. I used to be an investor in Workhorse back when it was called AMP electric Vehicles and they were using that location off of 275. I’m glad to see them still surviving, and I would seriously consider buying one of these when they come to market if they go retail. I hate EVs because they are too small, and I want a truck but they cost too much in gas, so I have a big F350 I never drive sitting in my driveway.

    Anyway, any time I see someone in my stomping grounds I get excited. If you hear of any other “events” in the area let me know… and we were hosting “Exotics and Wine” right down the street in down town Wyoming…

    My big question not mentioned in your post was what driveability was like. Was it torquey like a diesel? Did it have good pickup and driveability?

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    “As it stands now, they’ve got a lot of fleet orders to fill and important product finalization decisions to make.”

    Seems that the latter should’ve been done before the former. Am I the only one who finds it weird that a company would order a fleet of trucks which admittedly won’t be much at all like the prototype, and what it will be like is up in the air?

    Company: “We’re going to make an electric truck. Here is a prototype that is unlikely to bear any resemblance/relation whatsoever to the final product.”

    Customer: “That’s all I needed to know! Sign me up for 50.”

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      No, you’re not. I agree.

      Not only does that raise alarms, but also the fact that this is the only prototype. Yet, they want to hit a production date of 2018. You’d think, then, that there would be more mules by now. And the bodyshell, especially for an EV, is a huge factor in the overall product, so that ought to be finalized by now.

      I wouldn’t pre-order one of these.

      Then again, Tesla was able to get 400,000 pre-orders on a car whose public details were slim to non-existent. But…Tesla has a track record of delivering successful products at *some* point.

    • 0 avatar
      993cc

      And people say Elio Motors is vapourware!

      • 0 avatar
        arach

        Are you suggesting Workhorse is vaporware?

        Workhorse is the new name for Amp Electric Vehicles… the manufacturer that partnered with Saturn to produce Electric Saturn Vehicles.

        The vehicles saw a certainly level of success by exporting them outside of the US. Because they were electric, they weren’t subject to the same import tariffs, and therefore some places- like iceland- found the EVs cheaper than their gas alternatives.

        Amp did get a little “screwed” when the platform was discontinued (end of Saturn). They were down, but not out… and they still continue to sell electric commercial vehicles.

        If a company successfully sells thousands of cars around the world, they are certainly in no way shape or form “Vaporware”

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      None of those product decisions matter because the product doesn’t matter. It’s a political statement against the scourge of soda bubbles in the air, and blue state entities across the country are lined up to spend other people’s money to make it.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        This. Nobody is signing up to buy a single one of these with their after tax income, and few of them will be purchased with money earned by their purchasers. There might not be a truck today, but there must be one because other people’s money is already spent! At some point, Trump will have to decide whether to let the principles declare bankruptcy and slink back into the swamp with their grants and deposits or allow more taxpayer money to get dumped out of this particular rectum.

  • avatar

    That photo of the range extender is what packaging looks like from a group of engineers who don’t know anything about car production. So many routed components that are touching. Even where heat shields are present

    Good lucking buying this giant piece of ****

  • avatar
    geozinger

    This should have been an EREV instead of a BEV. Truck buyers have a different mission/mindset than car buyers. If it doesn’t appeal to them right out of the gate, then, ¡Adios! Workhorse trucks!

    • 0 avatar
      anomaly149

      I wonder if the intended use is “those electric tractors / carts you see in every big factory on the planet, but for a construction site”?

      80 miles is pretty bad, but if you’re just basically shunting around toolkits, skilled trades repair guys, and/or whatever you just offloaded from the 18 wheeler in the loading dock, this might make sense.

  • avatar
    DudeMcLovin

    That thing is FUGLY!

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    I’ll be following this fairly closely, but I’m not a fan of the hefty size; I’d prefer something about 3/4ths to 2/3rds this size.

  • avatar
    NMGOM

    It certainly is not headed to my driveway.

    This truck is nonsense as a general purpose pickup.
    Why?

    EV’s will be neither practical nor accepted for general-use vehicles in America for the foreseeable future, because of these factors:
    a) They would need a range of greater than 500 miles.
    b) They must charge fully in 10 minutes or less.
    c) They must cost LESS than a comparable ICE vehicle.
    d) They must be supported by charging stations all over the country (America).
    e) They must have a supporting electric grid capable of powering more than 25% of all customers who would drive all EV’s (which does not yet exist).
    f) They must not depend on exotic metals like indium and cobalt, which are rare and rapidly depleting.
    g) They must have adequate VERY cold-temperature performance (which they do not now).

    And right now, into the foreseeable future (10-20 years out), the market will still favor ICEs at about an 80% take rate, because of engine advances:

    http://www.caranddriver.com/flipbook/12-propulsion-technologies-that-will-increase-future-cars-efficiency

    ===========================

  • avatar
    CincyDavid

    Shoot, I work at the cemetery right over the crest of the hill south of Tri County Mall…never heard of this company before?!?

  • avatar
    CincyDavid

    http://www.springgrove.org

    The Norman Chapel, circa 1879-1880, is home to funeral and wedding services. Amazing place but it does get HOT in the summer.

  • avatar
    CincyDavid

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

    • 0 avatar

      Fascinating, I had no idea this was in there. So now the costs of maintenance on the structure are on the cemetary?

      Does anybody ever go in the chapel part at the top?

      Saw an article, no mention of what happened to the Dexter family after the late 1800s.

      I’m gonna go check this out and get some pics.

      • 0 avatar
        CincyDavid

        I’ve been in the bottom, the floors are unstable upstairs so I’ve never been up there.

        The Dexters branched out into railroads and other businesses, there are still living descendants out there. His best-known brand of bourbon was Old Dexter. The mansion where Ed Dexter lived was on 4th street in Cincinnati, Western & Southern Life bought it around 1910, used it for their offices until it was torn down and replaced with the building they still have downtown now.

        There’s a book that I have a copy of, The Whiskey Merchant’s Diary, that is transcripts of the diary of a man names Joseph Mersman, who was Ed Dexter’s protégé.

        There’s also a mixed drink called the Ed Dexter…bourbon, orange curacao and simple syrup, from a recipe book produced at the end of prohibition.

  • avatar
    CincyDavid

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

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