This cer­tainly isn’t a drab work­horse

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING - ALWYN VILJOEN

WORK­HORSE Group In­cor­po­rated, a builder of hy­brid bakkie and de­liv­ery vans in Ohio in the U.S., has re­vealed the Work­horse 15 — said to be the first elec­tric bakkie de­signed for the fleet mar­ket.

It fea­tures a Tesla-style power train with Pana­sonic lithium-ion batteries be­tween the axles and BMW’s lit­tle “Rex” two-cylin­der, 647 cc petrol en­gine from the i3 up front, to help give the Work­horse a claimed range of some 644 km.

The group is also mak­ing pan­el­vans for UPS and de­liv­ery drones, but its W-15 pickup is de­signed from the ground-up to of­fer crisp styling, with clean driv­ing and a cabin fo­cused on tech­nol­ogy.

In the U.S., the W-15 has com­pe­ti­tion from other range-ex­tended bakkies, like VIA Mo­tors’ con­verted Sil­ver­ado and Wright­speed’s gas tur­bine small trucks.

The W-15 of­fers power to all four wheels, thanks to an elec­tric mo­tor on each axle that pro­vides 343 kW com­bined power.

The tray of thou­sands of small Pana­sonic lithium-ion cells pro­vides an all- elec­tric range of 129 km and the BMW petrol en­gine adds an­other 500 km. Us­ing the elec­tric mo­tors to crawl in city traf­fic and the fuel en­gine to drive on open roads, Work­horse es­ti­mates fuel econ­omy at be­tween 7,4 to 8,4 l/100 km.

What will im­press any Nis­san Navara and Ford Ranger buyer in SA most is, how­ever, the ac­cel­er­a­tion.

Work­ing on the 0-60 mile per hour, the Work­horse 15 bakkie should do a sub-six sec­ond run from 0 to 100 km.

There is a de­cent one ton pay­load too, and five seats big enough for Amer­i­cans. A 7,2-kW socket plugs di­rectly into the bat­tery pack to power elec­tric tools.

“Our team de­signed the W-15 not only for ex­cep­tional per­for­mance, but also the low­est to­tal cost of own­er­ship, the low­est emis­sions pro­file, and with state of the art au­tonomous con­trols and telem­at­ics,” Work­horse CEO Steve Burns ex­plains. “We have lis­tened to fleet en­gi­neers, man­agers and driv­ers in or­der to de­liver the best pickup truck for com- mer­cial use, from cost of own­er­ship, to func­tion­al­ity, to per­for­mance and, above all else, safety and de­pend­abil­ity for the driver.”

The W-15 fea­tures tech­nolo­gies like lane de­par­ture warn­ing, col­li­sion avoid­ance/auto brak­ing, and in­te­rior touch­screen con­trols with the Work­horse Metron telem­at­ics sys­tem stream­lin­ing fleet track­ing and man­age­ment.

Like most Amer­i­can bakkies — or trucks as they call them over there — the W-15 bakkie is al­most six me­tres long, and two me­tres wide and has 305 mm of ground clear­ance.

Work­horse said at the ACT Expo it plans to be­gin pro­duc­tion in late 2018 and al­ready has over 4 500 pre-or­der let­ters of in­tent from com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle fleets.

“Our team de­signed the W-15 not only for ex­cep­tional per­for­mance, but also the low­est to­tal cost of own­er­ship ...”

PHOTO: NEWATLAS

The Work­horse 15 is a lightning fast elec­tric bakkie sold with BMW’s tiny two-cylin­der Rex en­gine to help ex­tend its range and a fo­cus on tech­nol­ogy in the cab (in­set).

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