An electric pickup?

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Plug-in-hybrid-pickup manufacturer Workhorse will hasten work on the consumer version of its W-15 model that’s designed for corporate fleets.

Workhorse CEO Steve Burns says the company planned to cut its teeth on a vehicle that would deliver the minimal-miles-per-day performance that commercial users want and apply what it learned to meet the bigger demands of consumers. However, Workhorse received enough inquiries from consumers after the vehicle’s May 2017 introduction that the company changed its plans.

“We are seeing if we can expedite a consumer version,” Burns says. One possible change: “a slightly larger generator."

As with the plug-in-hybrid Chevrolet Volt, the W-15's generator will extend the range of the vehicle’s use after its batteries are depleted. Workhorse produces a truck for United Parcel Service (UPS) that employs a two-cylinder “range extender” that BMW uses in the plug-in-hybrid version of its i3. Owners of the i3 filed a class-action lawsuit that claims that the range extender is faulty. Burns believes that no problem emerged with that system in the UPS trucks because of the stop-and-go nature of package delivery. Nevertheless, for the fleet W-15, “a little beefier” three-cylinder generator that produces 50 kilowatts will be used.

Burns says the short-trip-oriented demands of fleet pickups mean that those customers can count on the W-15 ($52,500) to deliver the stated 2,200-pound-payload and 5,000-pound-towing capacities. Will consumer W-15 owners be able to do the same? Burns says the use of carbon-fiber composite body panels offsets the weight of the battery packs, so the pickup will deliver those capacities in addition to 80 miles of range in all-electric mode and 310 miles of range when the generator kicks in.