You may not have heard of American company Workhorse, but if it manages to bring an electric pickup to market by 2018 as promised it may soon become a household name.
The Workhorse W-15 has been unveiled in its almost-ready production guise. Last month Workhorse displayed the range-extender ute’s chassis and plug-in powertrain and this week a working prototype has hit the ground at the Advanced Clean Transportation expo in California.
According to Workhorse, the W-15 will be capable of just under 130 kilometres of all electric range before the supplementary three-cylinder petrol engine kicks in to replenish the 60kWh lithium-ion battery, adding a further 500km of range.
Power won’t be in short supply either with output from the electric drivetrain rated at 343kW, delivered by an all-wheel drive system with front and rear motors. Further to that, an outlet in the vehicle’s tray allows power tools rated at up to 30 amps to plug in for use on any worksite, anywhere.
The dual-motor system can also whisk the W-15 from 0-60mph (0-97 km/h) in 5.5 seconds, plus carry a one tonne payload and tow up to 2270kg. Bodywork is a mix of carbon fibre and composite materials.
Workhorse isn’t aiming to win the hearts of private buyers though, with the W-15 developed with input from fleet operators as a way of keeping running costs for large company fleets low over the operating life of the vehicle.
That means the estimated US$52,500 purchase price (A$70,820) might look steep on the surface, but with refuelling and maintenance costs factored in Workhorse suggests its plug-in pickup should undercut a petrol-powered equivalent in the US.
If Workhorse is able to bring the W-15 to market as promised by 2018 the company could potentially beat Tesla’s electric pickup truck into showrooms, with Tesla instead looking to complete work on a semi truck before turning its attention to a ute.
The difference for Workhorse though is its fleet focus, with companies like the US postal service, UPS, and a group of electric power generation organisations in its sights ahead of any attack on private sales.