The Workhorse W-15 is an electric alternative for contractors and commercial trucks
An Ohio-based manufacturing company turns to the full-size truck market.
By George Kennedy
Workhorse, an Ohio-based manufacturing company, has focused on electric buses and utility vehicles for over a decade-and-a-half, and now, the company is turning its attention to the full-size truck market.
The result? The W-15, a completely new electric pickup truck.
The W-15 is not retro-engineered from an existing Silverado or F-150. The design consists of two electric motors — one at the front and one at the rear — a battery pack, and a gas-powered range extender.
The extended-range electric truck is built using a stainless steel chassis, with a composite body and carbon fiber where needed. Workhorse is designing the W-15 for a 28-year work life, with an available midlife refit that can include the seats, suspension, battery, and infotainment system.
Workhorse’s truck doesn’t look like anything else on the road. It’s decidedly futuristic, though it has practical design elements like steps cut into the corners of the rear bumper. Beneath that futuristic skin, the large Panasonic battery pack fits neatly along the floor of the truck, and it doubles as a portion of the frame. The 60 kilowatt-hour output feeds two electric motors, with one at the front and one at the rear. It makes 460 horsepower, and torque is set at 400-500 pound-feet range, but can be tweaked as needed by Workhorse for other needs.
The battery provides 80 miles of all-electric driving. When you reach the end of that range, a gasoline-powered, three-cylinder range extender kicks in. With its 11-gallon tank, the truck will go another 310 miles. The engine only generates electricity to get a current to the electric motors. The W-15 gets fuel economy of 28 miles per gallon in the city and 32 miles per gallon on the highway.
Workhorse says the W-15 will charge in 6 hours on a 240-watt specialty outlet or gain 50 miles of range from an overnight charge with a typical 120-watt power outlet. The folks at Workhorse are still evaluating a quick-charging solution like Tesla’s super-charger network.
Typical 4×4 pickup trucks have a transfer case and low range, but the W-15 doesn’t have a typical drivetrain. It does have 100 percent of its torque at 0 revolutions per minute, which is an advantage of electric motors. This is sufficient enough to deliver 0-60 acceleration in just 5.5 seconds. In a quick jaunt around Boston’s Back Bay, the W-15 made some squeaks and rattles as it rolled over bumps in the road. We’ll have to see what the fit and finish is of the production truck when it arrives in 2018.
The W-15 is also capable of towing 5,000 pounds and can hold a payload of 2,200 pounds. That might not be the 12,500 pounds of towing you can find in a Silverado 1500, but the W-15 can get a crew of five and all their gear to the worksite with ease.
Inside, the W-15 features an appropriately futuristic interior, but doesn’t sacrifice function and versatility. The bright colors dress up a refreshingly simple cabin layout with a dial for the shifter and a large touchscreen. It’s not as large as Tesla’s center screen, but will rival the largest screen in a luxury car. It runs Workhorse’s own infotainment OS system, which was a mockup on the test truck. The finished product will have Bluetooth hands-free calling, steaming music, and navigation, all the capabilities you’d expect from a modern infotainment system.
As safety technologies go, the W-15 comes with forward collision-avoidance, automatic braking, lane-departure warning, and backup camera — all as standard equipment.
As of right now, the W-15 is only available in the base WT model, which starts at $52,500, though it does come well equipped at that price. It also qualifies for the $7,500 federal tax rebate. Pricing for commercial fleets is available directly from the company.
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