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Workhorse gets big electric truck order, but can it deliver?

Production performance key to deal with Pride Group for 6,320 vans

Workhorse Group received its largest order to date for its C-Series last-mile delivery vans. (Photo: Workhorse)

Workhorse Group Inc. (NASDAQ: WKHS) booked its largest order of electric last-mile delivery vans to date. But the order is contingent on Workhorse being able to fulfill it.

Pride Group Enterprises, which operates 17 retail and rental truck locations in the U.S. and Canada, ordered 6,320 vans for delivery between this July and 2026 — five times the backlog Workhorse has for its C-650 and C-1000 battery-powered composite-body vans.

Slowed by a COVID outbreak at its factory in Union City, Indiana, Cincinnati-based Workhorse expects to build 1,800 vans this year, gradually reaching production of 200 vans a month. It built just seven vans in the third quarter, two of which were delivered to Ryder System Inc. (NYSE: R) for use in its COOP short-term rental program.

Workhorse plans to begin fulfilling a pending order from United Parcel Service (NYSE: UPS) for 950 C-Series vans this year. It had a total backlog of about 1,100 vans at the end of the third quarter of 2020, not counting a 500-truck order from commercial vehicle distributor Pritchard Cos.

The Pride Group order is subject to “various production and delivery conditions,” according to a Workhorse press release Monday. A company spokesman did not immediately return a call seeking clarification of the conditions.

“This large order solidifies our first-mover advantage and indicates the heightened interest in our last-mile delivery products,” Workhorse CEO Duane Hughes said in the release.

Workhorse shares closed at 21.42, up 8.29% Monday.  

A slight lead?

Workhorse may have a slight lead in building last-mile delivery vans over market startups Arrival and Rivian, which expects to fulfill an order for 100,000 electric delivery vans from Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) by 2024.

Pride Group is moving to make all its offerings electric. It reserved 150 Tesla Semis in November. It might purchase as many as 500 of the oft-delayed electric heavy-duty trucks.

“Pride is excited to establish this new partnership, which will add last-mile delivery vehicles to our existing product offering,” CEO Sam Johal said. “It is one of the key steps we have taken over the past year towards achieving our future target of 100% electric vehicles.” 

Hitachi Capital America is financing the inventory of both the Workhorse and Tesla purchases.

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Alan Adler

Alan Adler is an award-winning journalist who worked for The Associated Press and the Detroit Free Press. He also spent two decades in domestic and international media relations and executive communications with General Motors.