Workhorse Logs 5,000 Orders for W-15 Electric Pickup Truck, Plans Production Launch

May 02, 2017 by Tiffany Hsu, @tiffkhsu

Workhorse Group has collected about 5,000 nonbinding orders from large businesses and government agencies for its W-15 extended-range electric pickup truck, enough to begin commercially manufacturing the vehicle.

The Loveland, Ohio, trucks company announced its biggest order to date — 2,500 trucks from Ryder System Inc., the fleet management giant.

Ryder said Tuesday it would distribute Workhorse delivery trucks and an electric pickup truck in North America, as well as provide warranty and maintenance work.

The W-15, which is debuting as a drivable concept vehicle Tuesday at the Advanced Clean Transportation Expo in Long Beach, Calif., has already attracted pre-orders or letters of interest from Duke Energy, the cities of Portland, Ore., and Orlando and more.

The orders would represent about $250-million worth of initial sales for the company. The trucks are priced at about $52,000 and are expected to be eligible for state and federal green vehicle incentives such as the $7,500 federal income tax rebate.

“We have enough pre-orders now to justify pulling the trigger and making a march toward production,” Stephen Burns, chief executive of Workhorse, told Trucks.com. “We wanted to make sure there’s an appetite, and it’s really encouraging to see the appetite that’s there.”

Now, the company is ready to build 30 preproduction vehicles for crash testing and to start lining up vendors for the manufacturing process. Production and delivery will start in the fourth quarter of 2018.

“We think that in the commercial segment there is nothing that compares to this truck,” said Scott Perry, Ryder’s chief technology and procurement officer.

Perry said he believes the W-15 could become a popular service truck for food and beverage companies and other industries.  These are businesses that could install their own electric charging infrastructure and have the trucks run regular routes, serving clients.

“Contractors will like the trucks because they have an exportable power system that will allow them to run tools at a worksite,” Perry said.

All of the plug-in pickups — Burns declined to say how many he expects to be sold each year — will be constructed in Workhorse’s Union City, Ind., factory. The facility could potentially make up to 60,000 vehicles annually, he said.

The W-15 is designed for fleet use but could someday also be positioned as a consumer vehicle, he said.

The Ryder deal will give Workhouse national reach and assure customers that they will have easy access to service and warranty work, Burns said. Last year, Ryder also signed on to be the nationwide distributor and maintenance provider for the hydrogen fuel cell electric semi-trucks being developed by Salt Lake City start-up Nikola Motor Co.

“You don’t get to move the needle in life very much. The pickup truck has gone through a hundred years of refinement, so how do you come in as a newcomer?” Burns said. “It took a complete rethink.”

The “radically different” vehicle is designed to reach the equivalent of 75 mpg, with a range of 80 miles, when it’s in full electric operation, Burns said. A gasoline engine will serve as a range extender by acting as a generator for the electric drivetrain when the batteries are depleted, giving the pickup a conventional vehicle range.

“With that insurance policy, suddenly everything opens up, the price falls into line and we have a truck that’s more cost-effective for its proper duty cycle than any truck ever made,” he said. “If you’re going to climb a mountain every day, this might not be the truck for you. But looking at the total cost of ownership, it’s much less expensive over its life cycle for a fleet operator.”

The 460-horsepower truck can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds and also features all-wheel drive, collision avoidance technology, a lane-departure warning system and automatic braking.

The body includes carbon fiber to keep the truck light, but otherwise, “it looks like a pickup truck — four wheels and a cab bed,” Burns said. “But underneath, it’s like no truck in the world,” he said.

Developing and building the prototype took two years. The W-15’s powertrain was built in-house in the company’s headquarters near Cincinnati, with Detroit vendors providing the carbon-fiber work.

“We wanted to take advantage of being so close to the heartland of trucks,” Burns said.

Despite a trend toward massive grilles, the W-15’s grille is small, which makes the vehicle more aerodynamic and showcases its environmental pedigree.

“We don’t need the big radiator — our grille could have tapered down to a point like a Porsche, but it looked funny on a pickup truck,” Burns said. “It still had to be strong-looking — it’s built for strength and efficiency, and that had to come through in the design.”

Pickup trucks are the most popular vehicles in America. They accounted for nearly 2.7 million of the 17.5 million U.S. auto sales last year.

The traditional U.S. automakers — Ford Motor Co., General Motors and Fiat Chrysler —dominate the market, making the segment extremely difficult to penetrate. But others are looking to break in. Tesla Inc., the Palo Alto, Calif., electric car builder, says it also is working on an electric pickup, but it has not revealed any plans or shown a working prototype.

“It’s probably the most competitive automotive landscape there is — we couldn’t just come in with a conventional pickup truck and say that ours is a little bit better,” Burns said.

Burns expects that demand for fuel-efficient and cost-effective vehicles will stay strong.

“We’re really comfortable cutting our teeth with fleets, but everyone who sees this as a consumer wants it,” Burns said. “We’re starting to think that, as we mature, this could migrate to also being a consumer vehicle.”

Related: First Drive: Workhorse W-15 Electric Pickup Truck Offers Speed and Utility

3 Responses

  1. Greg huntwork

    I’m glad to see union City Indiana plant get going again I worked there 10 years befo retiring there’s a lot of people that need jobs are town has lost 7-8000 jobs from all the factories shutting down so thank you workhorse!!

    Reply
  2. J Cameron Hollis

    I love the profile of this truck. From the side and rear that is. The front facia needs the appearance of a large grill with some sort of brushed aluminum outline and horizontal ribs with matte black paint. That with added fog lamps would appeal to the consumer market. Additional interior refinements would certainly make the switch seamless. I’d ditch my thirsty Ram for this truck. One of these in my garage next to the Revero would do me proud. That is if we shut down then last coal power plant feeding the power grid here in Seattle. Granted it’s just under 1% of the total purchased by the PUD via the Bonneville Power Administration, it’s still a very dirty energy. The electric consumption in my home is almost 70% less than it was two years ago. This is all thanks to new LED lighting. We already had gas powered appliances. The furnace was upgraded last year. And a new on demand hot water system replaced the six year old 80 gallon gas powered tank. The oven and microwave were replaced with convection to further reduce energy consumption. Next is to replace the diesel truck with an all electric with gas range extender. 90% of my trucks mileage is under 70 miles. This is the perfect truck for my needs so long as they make the facia a little less awkward looking. I don’t like Tesla’s, with the exception of the new roadster, because of their boring front facias.

    Reply
    • J Cameron Hollis

      After looking into my this further and weighing the benefits, I found out my the electricity sourced by my power supplier doesn’t use just 1% coal. In fact, coal is the number one supply of energy powering my area. I was shocked to learn coal provided 37% of the power. The graph shows; coal 37%, hydro 31%, natural gas 22, wind 9%, nuclear +/- 1%, solar-thermal +/- 1%. I was pretty satisfied when I thought we were less than 1% coal yesterday, but still determined to reduce my use further. Now I am on a quest to rip off my new fancy 83k roof the HOA sanctioned all homeowners put on and slap on the best looking solar roofing tiles with a net metering system.

      The reason for my shocking discovery is my income properties just a mile are serviced by the PUD. PSE services my primary residence. PUD has a contract to purchase all of their power needs from BPA (Bonneville Power Association). The BPA occasionally needs more juice which is purchased from the coal power plant. This amout is 1% or less annually.

      Now I must weigh the carbon footprint of adding solar tile roofing to all the house I own. A couple are due for new roofs in the next five years or so. The main loss will be my primary home with its complex roof structure and the money i just spent two years ago. Actually the biggest hurdle will be convincing the HOA to approve the new tiles. Luckily 80% of the surface I’d like to cover is on the back facing south.

      Anyhow, I thought I come back to correct my prior comment.

      Cheers.

      Reply

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