Up Close With the Workhorse W-15, an EV Truck Headed to U.S. Driveways

As part of National Drive Electric Week, the Cincinnati-based Workhorse Group displayed their prototype W-15 EV pickup truck at the local Cincinnati event. TTAC got some more information on the future of this pickup, as well as a turn behind the wheel.

Come have a look.

We reported on the W-15 back in May of this year, with a subsequent article on a potential retail side for this initially fleet-only truck.

Workhorse is now certain it is pursuing both fleet and retail sales, relaying its current production deadlines at the EV event. The company’s intent is to start production for existing fleet orders in the latter part of 2018, with retail units beginning in 2019. The company will assemble the truck in its entirety within the former Navistar plant in Union City, Indiana.

The prototype currently sits on a Silverado chassis, with a custom body largely composed of carbon fiber. Workhorse indicated production models will use a custom Workhorse chassis, and that body composition is as-of-yet undetermined. However, if the company plans to stick to their previously announced price of $52,500, a carbon fiber-intensive construction seems unlikely.

The finalized cab shape will also differ from the prototype. While initially designed for fleet use, the four-door cab does not have rear legroom retail customers would consider acceptable for a crew cab pickup. Workhorse assured me the production cab will have more than six inches of additional rear legroom. The bed lift-over height at the sides will also see a decrease.

The finalized interior won’t look like this. Per the Workhorse representative at the event, the prototype wears an interior of mostly custom-fitted panels, which adds up to too many individual parts for cost-effective production. I recognized just a couple of components of GM origin.

The range extender found in the final version will also differ from the embryonic W-15. While the company wanted to use the same two-cylinder range extender as found in the BMW i3, engineers concluded the small engine did not provide the sort of range required for the W-15. To that end, Workhorse is currently developing a new range extender in cooperation with BorgWarner and Mercedes-Benz.

A test drive around the perimeter of the decrepit Tri-County Mall was short, but yielded a few basic impressions. It was certainly unusual to feel a vehicle of that size gather speed with only a slight whirring heard in the cabin. Steering and brakes responded as you’d expect — in a “truck” manner. The dual interior displays (iPads) were not charged by the truck’s power, and the screens were turned off at the time of my test drive. Thus, speed and power information was not available.

It was also bit nerve-wracking to consider I was piloting the only example the company has, which cost them several million dollars to develop. No pressure.

On the only straight stretch, where the Workhorse representative encouraged me to open up the throttle, a middle-aged HR-V driver decided to drive about 12 miles per hour in front of me. I didn’t get much of an opportunity. The W-15 does build speed reasonably well, though perhaps not in line with expectations for the claimed 460 electric horses spread to all four wheels.

The coming year should bring much more solidification of the Workhorse W-15’s future. As it stands now, they’ve got a lot of fleet orders to fill and important product finalization decisions to make. We’ll be watching. More photos can be found in the gallery below.

[Images © Corey Lewis]


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