If you’re at all like me, you have one eye (and a savings account) geared toward the electric car in your future to handle your commuting needs, but also a gas-powered truck in the garage for off-road adventuring. A little bit environmentally hypocritical? Sure. But until electric trucks are a thing, a gas-powered one is your only option if you want a vehicle that can handle itself off-road and offer hauling/towing/camping abilities.
That may not be the case much longer.
Workhorse, a Loveland, Ohio, based company, has released a proof-of-concept, plug-in hybrid four-wheel-drive pickup called (unimaginatively) the W-15. This isn’t an electrified already existing truck platform; Workhorse built this truck from scratch, with a goal toward fleet applications. They hope to start selling it in the U.S. in 2018.
Who or what is Workhorse? Formerly called AMP, the company has been in the electric vehicle conversion game for about a decade and works with Navistar, a U.S. trucking and hauling company to electrify some of their, uh, workhorses. So they know what they’re doing.
The W-15 runs on Panasonic lithium-ion batteries, arranged in packs that Workhorse produces in house. It creates 460 horsepower from two electric motors—each axle gets its own—and the all-electric range is right around 80 miles. The truck also has a BMW three-cylinder gas engine that can extend the range to 310 miles.
Interestingly, the gas motor acts as a generator only. When it kicks in, it recharges the batteries, or, in the case of total battery depletion, can power the electric motors, but it never actually turns the wheels. The truck, according to Workhorse, gets 28 MPG around town and 32 on the highway.
Want to tow? The W-15 can pull 5,000 pounds. The payload is about 2,200 pounds—not bad. The bed is a long one at six feet, six inches, which makes it ideal for use as a camper. As for off-roading, the 4WD system is full-time, which is a bonus, but the truck looks fairly low to the ground, so clearance could be an issue. Options for lifting aren’t yet clear.
While Tesla has announced that they expect their all-electric semi-truck to be in production fairly soon, and a pickup is likely to follow, the Workhorse W-15 is just about ready for inclusion in a work fleet, and if you’re looking for a fuel efficient truck, you literally can’t do any better.
The price could be an issue (price is always an issue) MSRP will be $52,500, according to Motor Trend. That’s about ten grand more than the Toyota Tacoma or the Chevy Colorado, and it’ll take you many, many years to make up the price difference in gas savings. For fleet use, that makes plenty of economic sense. Might not for the recreational truck owner.
Regardless, the W-15 is an exciting development for those of us who need (okay, want) the ability to drive far from civilization, hauling plenty of outdoors goodies along the way, but feel awful about the gas we consume to do so.
Electric trucks are coming. If the W-15 is any indication, maybe sooner than you think.