Is there future in electric-hybrid pickup trucks? Workhorse is a small Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) who definitely thinks so. Using electricity for pickup truck propulsion is inevitable, but the real question is when will this be viable. Workhorse says that fleet customers will be able to take delivery of the W-15 plug-in electric pickup at the end of 2017 and regular consumers can do the same at the end of 2018. How is it possible to go from the artist drawing of a pickup to a full production model in under two years? Here are the Workhorse’s plan and all the specs for the pickup.
First, some background on the Workhorse company itself. Company’s official name is Workhorse Group Incorporated, and it is publicly traded on NASDAQ with ticker symbol: WKHS. The company has worked with heavy truck and engine manufacturer – Navistar. The original testbed for the electric plug-in powertrain is commercial trucking came in the form of a delivery “step van”, like the ones used by UPS and other package delivery operators. First vehicles were delivered for testing in 2012. Workhorse now has an assembly plant in Union City, IN where it currently builds around 800 electric plug-in hybrid delivery van per year. These vans are proving to be popular as their fuel efficiency and maintenance costs are drastically lower than traditional diesel-powered counterparts. Workhorse expects to increase van production to about 1,000 units per year next year.
Enough about delivery vans. Here is all the information and specs for the upcoming W-15 pickup truck. Workhorse calls their powertrain system E-GEN. While the commercial delivery vans have a 19,500 lbs GVWR, the smaller pickup truck is targeted at 7,200 lbs GVWR. It is squarely aimed at the half-ton pickup truck market. The W-15 is initially planed in one configuration: extended cab (with four forward opening doors) four-wheel-drive with a 6.5 foot bed length.
The Workhorse E-GEN powertrain is electrically driven with a gasoline engine/generator used only to charge the batteries (not provide propulsion). Workhorse has an agreement with BMW to provide them with both BMW i3 or i8 gasoline engines to be used as range extenders. The 647 cc BMW motorcycle engine is currently used in their delivery vans, and the 1.5L three-cylinder non-turbo BMW engine is planned for use in the W-15 pickup truck. The lithium-ion battery cells are supplied by Panasonic. These are the exactly the same cells as you can find in a Tesla Model S or Model X. The W-15 pickup is planned to carry a 50 kWh batter pack, which will power an electric motor on each the front and the rear axles.
How much horsepower will the W-15 have? Workhorse does not have an electric motor supplier finalized yet, but they are targeting their 5,000 lbs truck to do a 0-60 mph in 6.0-7.0 seconds.
The E-GEN propulsion system and the entire vehicle is run by Workhorse-developed software. The company says this is the only way to ensure all systems can integrate well together and provide high reliability. The chassis and frame are made of stainless steel with plastic-composite body panels.
In summary, the W-15 is an extended cab/regular bed all-wheel-drive pickup truck which should be capable of 80 miles of electric range, around 390 miles of total range (with gasoline range extender), will average 30 MPG in hybrid mode, can carry 2,200 lbs of payload, and reach 60 mph in under 7.0 seconds. Overall, the specifications and claims are very impressive with one exception, which is the estimated maximum towing capacity of 6,000 lbs. Why not over 10,000 lbs of towing? The driving range diminishes drastically under heavier loads. This is something Workhorse and other companies will have to work on.
The W-15 pickup concept has a few parallels to the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica eHybrid. These are still different animals, but both provide considerable all-electric range, can carry lots of cargo, and can be driven long distance with the help of gasoline.
Oh yea, the W-15 truck will have a standard 7,200 watt power export (or 14,400 watt optional) capability. It means that you could run a job site, your house, or your camp on electricity generated by your pickup truck.
Finally, Workhorse is estimating the W-15 price to start at $52,500. This would be on par with all the other nicely appointed half-ton trucks.
Will we all be able to purchase a Workhorse W-15 truck in two years? We will still have to wait and see…
While we wait for more details on the W-15, here are all the details on the 2017 GMC Sierra 1500 Hybrid (which is a very mild gas-electric hybrid).