Workhorse may have the ultimate proposal for commercial fleets with the reveal of its W-15 pickup truck, the first range-extended electric pickup truck to be built from the ground up with fleets in mind.
While Tesla says it is developing an all-electric pickup, which will supposedly be revealed in two years, the W-15 has now been introduced with 80 miles of all-electric range and a range extender to boot.
That range comes from a 60-kilowatt-hour battery pack using thousands of Panasonic 18650 lithium-ion commodity cells, mounted underneath the body and doubling as the truck's frame.
For range-extending duties, a BMW-sourced 3-cylinder engine has been tapped. That engine, however, never actually powers the wheels mechanically.
Efficiency estimates are good, too, with 75 MPGe combined and an estimate of 28 mpg city and 32 mpg highway when the 3-cylinder gasoline engine is doing all of the work.
Miles Per Gallon Equivalent, or MPGe, is the distance a vehicle can travel electrically on the same amount of energy that's contained in 1 gallon of gasoline.
When the battery range is depleted, the little engine produces 50 kilowatts of electricity to charge the battery or power the truck's electric motors, which drive all four wheels.
When it comes time to recharge the battery, the Workhorse W-15 accepts 110-volt, 240-volt Level 2, and DC fast charging.
At a Level 2 charging station, Workhorse estimates 6 to 7 hours of charging time to fill a completely discharged battery.
When all is said and done, the Workhorse W-15 is a commercial vehicle—and its payload ratings best those of competitors converted from standard gasoline pickups.
The W-15 can handle 5,000 pounds when towing and 2,200 pounds of payload.
The Via Motors pickup truck, by comparison, can only tow 4,000 pounds and carry 1,000 pounds.
Moving to vehicle construction, the W-15 is made of carbon-fiber reinforced plastic, making it light and durable. It also won't dent.
Its total weight minus the driver tips the scales at a relatively low 5,000 pounds, not bad for a vehicle with a Tesla-size battery.
Motor Trend had the opportunity to take the Workhorse W-15 for a spin and found it to behave in a very Tesla-like manner.
A low center of gravity keeps the W-15 well-planted and the magazine's writer found the ride to be smooth during a quick drive.
Inside, a center-mounted touchscreen handles most of the driver functions and can even be used with work gloves; Workhorse knows its audience.
Also like Tesla, its operating software can be updated over the air.
The W-15 comes with a suite of standard safety equipment including collision warning, emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and lane keep assist.
Workhorse is hoping for very high marks from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, noting that the W-15 was engineered with safety in mind.
That's evident in its large front crumple zone.
At present, the W-15 will be the only model available with an extended cab configuration. However, Workhorse plans the traditional slew of configurations and W-25 and W-35 heavy duty variants.
Production is slated to begin in late 2018 with a starting price of $52,500 before federal tax incentives.