American electric vehicle start-up Workhorse wants to market the world’s first plug-in range-extended electric pickup truck, bringing it to market by 2018, reports Electrek.

The pickup – dubbed the W-15 – is a clean-sheet design, built from the ground up to accommodate electric drivetrain components. Thus the vehicle eschews many design compromises befallen to electric conversion vehicles based on conventional powertrain designs.

A large Panasonic lithium-ion battery pack will sit in the floor of the vehicle, with electric motors positioned between both the front and rear axles, thereby providing all-wheel-drive traction.

A small gasoline range-extender engine will be positioned at the front of the vehicle, leaving enough space for front-truck storage capacity. The range extender will kick in after approximately 130 kilometers of all-electric driving, going on to deliver a total range of 500 kilometers when disembarking with a full tank of fuel and a fully-charged battery.

When running purely on battery power, the W-15 is said to achieve 75 mpge (3.1 L/100 km-electric equivalent); when using its range extender, the vehicle is reported to achieve an average of 8.4 city/7.3 L/100 km highway (28 mpg highway/32 mpg city).

The truck will be built on a high-strength stainless steel chassis, with lightweight composite body panels helping to reduce overall weight. The vehicle’s curb weight will still be quite hefty, though, tipping the scales at 3,266 kilograms (7,200 lbs).

Workhorse says the W-15 will feature “superior towing capability” thanks to its high-torque electric motors and high curb weight—though official towing capacity has yet to be announced. Payload capacity is listed at 998 kilograms (2,200 lbs) in the rear cargo bed.

The electric pickup’s off-road capability is not expected to be stellar due to its heavy curb weight and limited range, but the vehicle features a respectable 23 cm (9 inches) of ground clearance nonetheless.

Beyond the vehicle’s reported towing and payload capabilities, Workhorse has integrated several design details that should prove useful to contractors and construction workers.

Bumper-steps have been integrated into the rear bumper design, much like the steps found in the rear bumpers of GM’s pickup trucks, allowing for easy access to the rear cargo bay.

The vehicle’s front trunk will come equipped with high- and low-voltage electrical outlets for plugging in power-tools and appliances as needed—this feature is sure to please many on the job site.

The W-15 will arrive with seating for five in a four-door crew-cab layout.

Thanks, in part, to a 76-cm front crumple zone, Workhorse claims its truck will be “the safest pickup ever built.”

In addition to its passive safety features, the W-15 will feature active safety aids, including auto-lane centering, auto-braking, and a rear back-up camera.

The alternative-powertrain truck company started off building hybrid-electric delivery vans; the start-up has sold 125 vans to UPS to date, with another 200 on order.

In an early November press release, Workhorse revealed its electric pickup is destined for fleet use; the company has not given any indication whether it will attempt to sell its pickup for personal use.

“We believe this will be the first plug-in range-extended electric pickup truck built from the ground up by an OEM in America,” said Steve Burns, Workhorse CEO.

“We feel the extended range capability from the combination of Panasonic batteries and an on-board generator will deliver the performance that fleet managers expect from a work truck.”

(Electrek)