Southern Ohio OEM Reveals Electric Range-Extended Pickup Truck (And GM Should Maybe Buy Them, Too)
It seems that I was not the only one to think that what the electric car market needed was a good truck. First, we had indications of a Wrangler-esque electric SUV/truck from Bollinger Motors, without many details about performance. Now, we have the introduction of a range-extended electric pickup from Workhorse Group called the Workhorse W-15.
Now, I was kind of excited to hear about Workhorse, since the company is actually in the same area as our office—its R&D department is based in Loveland, Ohio, and its production is in the state-line-straddling Union City, Indiana. Then, after reading a bit about the pickup, I got seriously intrigued.
The W-15 works on the same sort of principle as the BMW i3 REx (and uses a BMW-sourced engine for a range-extender). Underneath, it packs a sled of Panasonic lithium-ion batteries which give the truck 80 miles of all-electric range. Once that depletes, the range extender turns on, and gives the truck another 310 miles per tank of gas. It does all of this while connected to a pair of electric drive units (one front, one rear) that give it 460 horsepower, giving the W-15 a towing capacity of 5,000 pounds and a payload capacity of 2,200 pounds.
The Workhorse W-15 also has some interesting features: it has an extra-large front crumple zone due to the range-extender engine’s small size, it features all-wheel drive, and it offers both lane departure warning and automatic braking. On top of that, you can plug your electric tools into a port on the side and run them off of the pickup.
The inside doesn’t look half bad, either.
The interior has a fairly simple but friendly design, including a large (presumably touch-) screen in the center of the dash, with a rotary dial instead of a conventional gear shift, four vents across the dash, and what appears to be a backup camera on the screen. I would presume that those blank buttons at the bottom of the dashboard wouldn’t end up staying blank, and instead would have some sort of controls for, well, the air conditioning.
The only question I have is, why would you put the hazard lights on the steering wheel? I mean, I don’t know how often people who drive for working truck fleets need to use the hazard light button, but that seems like something that could easily be set off accidentally and freak out the people behind you.
All of this is contained in what looks like a good, conventional pickup truck with a double cab and standard bed, from a company that already has a comfortable business building extended-electric step van chassis for the likes of FedEx, USPS, FritoLay, UPS, Ryder, and Penske, to name just a few.
Here, now, I wish I could say that I think that General Motors would buy Workhorse (like I said it should do to the Bollinger SUV), but it seems like Workhorse is somewhat set up already as its own self-sustaining OEM, making it too expensive of a buy. I think that the best chance for the General to get involved with Workhorse would be in partnering up and using its chassis to make some awesome electric Colorados. Then again, I could be wrong (the mind of General Motors is a great and inscrutable thing), and perhaps we will in a few years hear about GM’s new Chevrolet Workhorse rolling electrically across the workplaces of the Midwest. After all, some of the same reasons I thought that Bollinger would appeal to GM could apply to Workhorse, too: The electric truck market is completely empty, and even Jeep is moving to making an electric SUV/truck.