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2017-05-05 05:54

BATTERY BAKKIE: Battery bakkies will save our double-cab work and play lifestyle. Meet the Workhorse W-15. It’s beaten Tesla’s project by two years. Image: Workhorse

Lance Branquinho

Ohio - One of the greatest fears of a battery vehicle future is that we will have to forego that absolute pillar of Mzansi motoring: the bakkie.

Former Pretoria Boys High graduate and global industry disruptor in chief, Elon Musk, promise us that this will not be the case. That Tesla will produce a bakkie, by 2019. 

But what if you cannot wait quite that long and feel the need to cart your goods (or MX bikes) with a zero emissions bakkie? Well, from the good state of Ohio comes the very unimaginatively named Workhorse W-15

Battery-powered bakkie

An evolution of the Chevrolet Silverado, Workhorse has both single- and double-cab versions available and they’re not slow. At all. 
Powered by a two 172kW electric motors – one at each axle - Workhorse’s W-15 is good for 0-100km/h in 5.5 seconds, hardly surprising considering the power unit’s total output of 344kW.

There’s a small-capacity petrol engine on-board to function as a range extender. Well, as a ranger-extender but also a static power generator set, to power tools when you are working out on site, or the farm, with your W-15.

Image by Workhorse

Range isn’t phenomenal. It will run flat in 130km, which is first-generation BMW i3 fare, but the performance is substantial and it’s worth remembering that this is a full-sized American bakkie. That means it is nearly 6m bumper-to-bumper and more than 2m across, with a load capacity of 1t and tow-rating of 2.5t. Entirely sufficient for most requirements. Workhorse claims that with the range-extender working overtime, total W-15 range is close to 400km.

Image by Workhorse

All styling additions, which look like a matric metal fabrication project gone wrong, prioritise aerodynamics and without an engine up-front, and most of the electric drive components at hub-height, the W-15 has a frunk. ‘A what?’ Yes: a frunk. It’s a front-axle trunk (or bonnet-boot, if you wish to South Africanise things). 

Workhorse deserves credit for its project, delivering a conversion that evolves the bakkie, with all its utility left unaltered, into a zero-emissions vehicle. Costs? Workhorse has taken 2150 orders for its W-15 already, price at R800 000 a unit. Let us rejoice in this battery powered double-cab 4x4 from Ohio. It has secured the future of bakkie motoring. 


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