Workhorse, a US based maker of plug-in hybrid delivery trucks, says it will bring a new plug-in hybrid pickup truck with four wheel drive to market in 2018. Called the W-15, it will be the first plug-in hybrid in the US pickup truck market. It will have a 60 kWh battery pack mounted low in the chassis and two electric motors — one in front and one in the rear.

Workhorse plug-in hybrid pickup truck concept

Range on battery power alone is said to be 80 miles. The W-15 will also have an onboard range extender gasoline engine. probably the same 647 cc two cylinder engine used in the BMW i3. Total range is claimed to be more than 180 miles. Hopefully the W-15 will be able to program the REx engine to kick in sooner than allowed by federal and state officials in the i3.

In order to make the BMW i3 qualify as a zero emissions vehicle, the engine is prevented from starting until battery power is below 5% of capacity. Once that happens, the tiny engine does not have enough power to charge the battery and move the car forward at more than about 30 mph.

Workhorse has already supplied 125 delivery vans using the same technology to UPS and has just signed a contract to deliver 200 more. The benefits for fleet operators are compelling. Workhorse claims a 400% decrease in fuel costs and a 60% decrease in maintenance expenses. As fitted to the delivery vans, the powertrain puts out 268 horsepower and delivers 1,620 lb-ft of torque. If those specs carry over the proposed pickup truck, the W-15 is going to be a very appealing package.

The W-15 will be the “safest pickup ever built,” says the company. The weight of the batteries will be carried low in the chassis for excellent stability. The pickup will be built on a ladder-type frame made of stainless steel. In addition to standard electronic stability control, the truck will have larger than normal crumple zones. The body will be made of composite panels. Between the stainless steel chassis and composite panels, rust should be less of an issue than it is for many pickup trucks, which have a tendency to rot long before the powertrain wears out.

The W-15 will seat five and will feature a large and wide load bed. It has already attracted interest in the US from a large energy company and the City of Orlando, Florida. We have at least one regular reader here at Gas2 who has spoken many times about his wish for a plug-in hybrid pickup truck. Depending on final pricing, the Workhorse W-15 could be a wish come true for a lot of folks.

Source and concept graphic: Motoring