Workhorse Shows Prototype W-15 Pickup Truck, 80 Miles Extended Range!

APR 15 2017 BY MARK KANE 31

Workhorse released photos of its W-15 pickup truck prototype, which without a load (or pesky extras like a frame) is like a rocket according to Stephen Burns, founder and CEO.

“Drivers will have to shift into a “beast” mode to have full access to the speed, he said. That way someone won’t accidently take off at an unsafe speed while towing equipment.”

The range-extended vehicle will have 80 miles of all-electric range and decent acceleration of 5.5 seconds 0-60 mph.   Also, a 7.2 kW power export is one of the most handy features of the future pickup.

The ground clearance is to be about the same as in a standard pickup, with towing capability and payload targeted respectively at 5,500 pounds and 2,200 pounds.

Some 2,150 units have been ordered (non-binding) through Letters of Intent from fleets, with an expected price of $52,500 (MSRP).

Workhorse W-15 (Workhorse via

Unveiling of the Workhorse W-15 is scheduled at the Advanced Clean Transportation Expo in Long Beach, California on May 2, while production will be launched in 2018.

In theory Workhorse will enter plug-in pickup market before Tesla’s all-electric truck, of which CEO Elon Musk recently stated is still some 18-24 months out; meaning the company has a small window in which to execute its plan.

Workhorse W-15 spec:

  • 80 miles of all-electric range, 75 MPGe fuel efficiency in all-electric operation
  • 460 system horsepower (343 kW), double motor, AWD
  • 0-60 miles per hour in 5.5 seconds
  • automatic braking, lane-departure warning
  • composite body with carbon fiber
  • double cab
  • standard bed configuration
  • 7.2 kW power export that allows tools to be plugged directly into the battery power source without the truck running

source: Green Car Congress and

Categories: Concepts, Trucks

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31 Comments on "Workhorse Shows Prototype W-15 Pickup Truck, 80 Miles Extended Range!"

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80 miles range for $52K? Sure, I’d love a truck that can tow, but $52K is way too much for a truck that can only tow ~5500 lb. That’s the same as my 20 year old Chevy Astro mini van.

I tow a 3000lb boat with the box full of camping gear, and commute daily to an office. These specs look just fine.

Given I spend $3K+ on gas per year, the price isn’t that bad either.

Probably a lot of people doing the same.

The range extender needs to be a little bigger.

The real killer will be the interior – likely very crude/ utilitarian.

Serial anti tesla troll thomas


This truck is described on the Workhorse Website as having an “onboard BMW generator range extender”. The range extender on its larger step van is described as a “BMW W20 REx engine” which is the same engine installed in a BMW i3 REx, so it’s reasonable to assume that this same range extender engine would be installed in the pickup. The output of this engine is insufficient to maintain the battery pack’s charge level in the much lighter and more aerodynamic i3 over ~70 mph on a level road. So this truck certainly won’t be a long-range highway cruiser. It might be able to drive on urban or suburban roads without depleting its battery pack if the range extender engine is allowed to run at full output to increase the battery pack’s charge level when the power required for propulsion is less than the range extender’s output, something that the i3 REx cannot do.

They are building this as a repair truck for utilities, not for people hauling a camping trailer to far away vacation destinations.

It certainly makes sense for a company with severely limited production capacity, one such as Workhorse, to aim at a very specific niche market for a new vehicle. For Workhorse to try to aim at a broad market makes no sense, as they couldn’t possibly satisfy much demand without greatly expanding their production capacity.

I still question the price tag of $52,500, though. Will this be essentially a larger version of a utility vehicle, one without passenger vehicle “frills” such as air conditioning, stereo sound system, etc? If it’s just a “bare bones” vehicle, that might work. But they would still need to do crash testing and install air bags and all that to make it a street legal vehicle, which utility vehicles are not. I can’t see utilities buying such a vehicle if it can’t be driven on public roads.

If this becomes a reality, it makes way more sense than the Tesla all electric pickup. If they hit these numbers it will sell, not in enormous numbers, but enough to get the attention of traditional pick up buyers. The Tesla truck is a non starter in the pick up market IMO. These are not people that want to be limited by range, wait around some place for the truck to recharge, or deal well with range anxiety.

Yeah, at first. But batteries will get better and cheaper and range extenders will go the way of the 8-track.

You are correct. That is the goal, but here, today the reality is battery energy density is still not good enough to meet the demands for trucks. That’s why the PHEV approach is the best choice for now.

The lower popularity of the very BMW i3 range extender of late proves your point well. If Tesla releases their pickup truck at a base price of $50k (smaller battery, single motor), then Workhorse will have 18-24 months (I don’t care what was quoted by either party, this is my prediction) to get market share. After that, if they don’t have at least 25,000 on the road, they will dwindle.

Their strategy here is to basically do a “quick turnaround” PHEV using whatever they can obtain off the shelf and build quickly. They won’t have high margins, especially with carbon fiber assemblies. My guess is that, somewhere under the covers, a much larger company is funding this as a feasibility and if they prove successful, they will be bought out, or become a wholly owned subsidiary.

The assumption you are making is that people will flock to the Tesla all electric pick up truck. Why is that? I don’t know if you peer inside the windows of many Teslas, but there’s not a lot of pick up drivers in there. Consider this- Toyota and Nissan have been trying for years to eat GM, Ford and Chrysler’s lunch in the pick up market and haven’t made much head way. Should be easy right? The big three are a bunch of knucklehead losers that can’t design and build their way out of a paper bag, right? Why haven’t the Japanese put them out of business by now? Turns out, pick up truck buyers tend to be fiercely loyal, fiercely traditional, fiercely patriotic and actually celebrate the ICE and lately particularly the diesel version of the ICE. That’s why I say a BEV pick up, given today’s technology, is almost a non starter. That’s why I say a PHEV approach is the way to go with pick ups. No range limitations, no long recharge times, lots of torque and added HP, better gas mileage and they can still have a gas, or diesel engine to make them feel better… Read more »

I certainly agree that those who drive pickups not because they need them, but merely for the “macho” image, will mostly have the die-hard attitude of “you can have my gasmobile when you pry the steering wheel from my cold, dead fingers”.

The market I see for PHEV pickups is those who need them for practical purposes, for work, and who are a lot more concerned about the daily or annual cost of using the vehicle than they are about the self-image they get when driving the thing.

And yes, I agree that when Tesla markets a BEV pickup, it will likely appeal only to a small segment of pickup buyers. But as the EV revolution continues, as more and more people grow comfortable with driving and using EVs, and as BEVs get larger capacity battery packs which will give EVs more energy and power, that market segment will grow. It may grow a lot faster than you think; I certainly hope so!

I think it would fun though unlikely to see Tesla Pickups running in MT with guns racks, though you seem to be plugging everyone that buys a truck into one category.

Probably half the people that buy pickups don’t even use them as work vehicles. And the use they do put them too could mostly be accomplished by other vehicles.

So there will be a market for a Tesla pickup, but not with all buyers. To early to say for sure, but I think like all Tesla models there will be strong demand.

Yes there will be demand for Tesla’s pick up. It will be tiny, but it will exist. Once all the elite, tech hipster Tesla fans get one and everyone in Hollywood has made their fashion statement, sales will go flat.

Yeah, just like with Model S….you guy need to come up with different lines from time to time just to keep it interesting.

That is what the petrol heads have been saying about Tesla since ~2008.

” There are only so many hippie millionaires.. what happens when…”

So far over 200k “hippie millionaires” have purchased a Tesla and 400k have reservations for one.

No, a reservation is not a sale but I know very few people that like giving out 18 month $1000 interest free loans.

“The Tesla truck is a non starter in the pick up market IMO. These are not people that want to be limited by range, wait around some place for the truck to recharge, or deal well with range anxiety.” If it’s gonna use the same gas-powered range extender as the BMW i2 REx, as ______ said, then it is very seriously underpowered for a pickup. That’s basically a “limp along until you can recharge” driving mode. Even the i3 REx has a problem with climbing mountains; it has been reported that the i3 REx gradually loses top speed down to 25 MPH under those conditions. Trying to push a vehicle with much greater drag than an i3 along, something like a pickup, would be even worse. I do agree that at this still early stage in the EV revolution, a PHEV pickup makes more sense than a BEV pickup, at least for those using a pickup as a working vehicle, and not just a commuter vehicle for people who want to drive a pickup because it “looks tough”. So yeah, Tesla likely doesn’t have the optimal solution for those who actually need (not just want) a pickup. But it needs… Read more »

Oops, bad editing on my part.

…the same gas-powered range extender as the BMW i3 REx, as Alohart said…

The higher the battery capacity, the lower the range extender output could be while maintaining full performance. An i3 REx sold outside North America allows the driver to start the range extender manually when the battery pack’s charge level is below 75%. Starting the range extender before it automatically starts at a charge level of 6.5% can ensure no loss in performance under driving conditions that most drivers experience. So this pickup truck’s range extender need not have the output of a Volt engine if its battery pack has high enough capacity and its range extender could be started at high charge levels.

Look, this ain’t rocket science. If the range extender isn’t sufficiently powerful to provide all the electricity the vehicle needs to drive down the road, then the battery pack will drain to the point that the vehicle will be forced to reduce speed. Once the battery is drained to the point that the range extender needs to be turned on, then driver either has to reduce speed to the point that it’s no longer draining the battery, or else accept that the car will have very limited range at the speed he’s driving.

The BMW i3 has been engineered for very low drag, so that puny scooter motor can (if I understand what I’ve read) maintain highway speed as long as it’s driven on level ground, with no use of the A/C or heater or any other significant drag on power.

Not so with a pickup. With its much higher drag, a PHEV pickup either needs a much more robust gas motor for a range extender, or the driver will have to accept that he can’t drive it at highway speed for long. 2 + 2 = 4… there is no way to make it equal 5 or 6.

The Emperor’s New Truck?

* 80 miles range as shown. May vary with vehicle body and seats.

“or pesky extras like a frame”

I think you mean “body” not “frame”. Pretty hard to have engine and suspension without a frame.

Alas, a carbon-fiber “body”, as stated, is probably a non-starter in more ones than one.

Hey Workhorse, how much extra is the W-15 with the BODY option? It might help to add that BODY option as standard equipment, as I think Bob Lutz and crew, over at VIA MOTORS, gives you everything, while really, actually giving you, in reality absolutely nothing!

Sounds like a decent concept but I won’t be buying this off brand truck. Tesla or GM yes. This thing no.

Whether or not the range extender can put out enough to “maintain” 70mph, It is a range extender none the less.

And range when towing is probably 30 miles?

Obviously it depends on how big the trailer is — that is, how much drag it creates from wind resistance — but a pickup already has such poor aerodynamics that adding a trailer might not reduce the range by as much as you’d think.

For instance, the Tesla Model X reportedly loses about half its range from pulling even a moderate sized trailer. Workhorse’s EV pickup might lose noticeably less than half its range pulling the same load.

There are many tests of pickup fuel economy when pulling trailers of various size and weight. Generally the effect is to reduce MPG by 35-50%. There’s no reason to think that an electric truck would act any differently.

Here’s a little story ’bout a man named Jed

Tch. Actually, the “Ballad of Jed Clampett” begins:

Come listen to a story ’bout a man named Jed…–11627.html