Workhorse Electric Pickup Truck: What We Learned from a Test Drive

May 08, 2019 by Ryan ZumMallen, @Zoomy575M

President Donald Trump surprised electric vehicle insiders when he announced General Motors will sell its Lordstown, Ohio, plant to Workhorse Group Inc. to produce electric pickup trucks in a Tweet on Wednesday.

Workhorse builds electric commercial vehicles such as trucks, delivery vans and even drones. However, the company has failed to bring a fully electric vehicle to market. And its W-15 pickup is still in development several years after its public debut.

Trucks.com drove an early prototype of the electric W-15 truck in 2017 at the Advanced Clean Transportation Expo in Long Beach, Calif. Here’s what we learned:

      • Electric power: The Workhorse W-15 is powered by lithium-ion batteries made by Panasonic that are mounted to the floor of the truck, lending it a low center of gravity. The batteries power dual electric motors that give the W-15 about 450 horsepower and 80 miles of all-electric range.
      • One fast truck: The electric motors make the W-15 accelerate like a freight train, quickly building momentum in near silence. Since it doesn’t need to change gears, the truck rushes forward without interruptions. It goes from 0 to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds.
      • Range extender: A small 1.5-liter three-cylinder BMW gasoline engine provides extra driving range in case the batteries run out of charge. The engine generates power to operate the electric motors – it does not drive the wheels on its own.
      • Work site toughness: Though the W-15 is meant primarily as a statement piece for construction foremen, it’s engineered for strength. The truck has a maximum payload capacity of 2,200 pounds and maximum towing capacity of 5,000 pounds.
      • Braking issues: While the electric powertrain provides more than enough muscle, the W-15 needs brakes more suited to the task. The W-15 is not tuned to automatically brake when the gas pedal lets off, as many automakers’ electric vehicles do. Workhorse may make regenerative braking more aggressive for production.
      • Carbon fiber body: The prototype Trucks.com tested used body panels made of lightweight carbon fiber to make the vehicle rigid yet light. The material helped the W-15 offset the hefty weight of the batteries. Production versions will use more cost-effective composite plastic.
      • Unfinished model: Workhorse planned to make changes to the W-15 driven in 2017. Its body panels were creaky, and some fit and finish could be improved, especially on the interior.
      • 2018 changes: The company revealed a slight redesign in 2018 that featured a modified chassis and new bumpers. It also had a longer cabin, a 6.5-foot bed and an optional roof-mounted light bar. Standard safety features include automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning and blind-spot monitoring.
      • Unknown future: Workhorse accepted thousands of deposits for consumer and commercial versions of the W-15 pickup truck. But the company has released few updates since the 2018 redesign. In March, executives announced Workhorse would hold off on the W-15 and focus on electric vans due to financial setbacks.

John Voelcker April 24, 2019
Ford will invest $500 million in electric-truck maker Rivian and will use the startup’s “skateboard” underpinnings for an unspecified future electric vehicle.

3 Responses

  1. Mac McGuire

    80 mi range would be very limiting if working on a job site. In the DFW metroplex several 100 miles a day are not uncommon.

    • David

      The all electric range is 80 miles on battery power, then it switches to the gasoline powered range-extending generator using similar technology as the Chevy Volt, which gives it a gasoline range comparable to a gas powered truck.


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