Production of its long-awaited electric delivery van could begin in the next few weeks for Workhorse Group (NASDAQ: WKHS), with plans to add additional configurations and sizes to the C-Series once full production ramps up, company officials told FreightWaves at the recent NTEA Work Truck Show in Indianapolis.
In the company’s fourth-quarter earnings announcement on Tuesday, CEO Duane Hughes said Workhorse is waiting for one additional federal certification to begin production, and once that is received, manufacturing will begin with two vehicles per day at the company’s Union City, Indiana, plant.
Hughes said Workhorse would be producing 300 to 400 vans per month by the end of the year. Pax Lindell, director of sales, told FreightWaves there is a backlog of C650 and C1000 van orders right now. UPS, DHL and Ryder (NYSE: R) are among the companies with vehicles on order. UPS (NYSE: UPS) has an order for 1,060 vans, Hughes said on the earnings call, and will start receiving vans in the second quarter.
The C-Series was named the 2020 Innovation Award winner at the Work Truck Show.
The van will be available in 650-cubic-foot (C650) and 1,000-cubic-foot (C1000) cargo van configurations initially. Chief engineer Richard Bastien told FreightWaves a 1,200-cubic-foot (C1200) will eventually be offered.
The vans feature a skateboard design, meaning the base is the same across models. Built with composite bodies, they are offered in 190-inch and 144-inch wheelbases. Nearly all the specs are identical, including gross axle weight ratings (5,000 pounds for the front axle and 7,500 pounds for the rear axle) and the 12,500-pound fully loaded weight.
The powertrain is among the unique features of the van. Sitting in a cradle near the rear of the vehicle, the powertrain can be easily removed and replaced.
“That’s good for our customers because if they have multiple vehicles on the road, they can have an extra powertrain so if a truck breaks down, they can [simply replace it],” Bastien explained. The broken powertrain can then be repaired with minimal downtime for the vehicle.
The base battery pack is a four-module configuration with an effective range of 100 miles and a top speed of 75 mph. The battery pack is scalable, based on range needs, explained Don Wires, the original engineer who led development of the C-Series. Typically, a vehicle will have four packs for the C650 or six packs for the C1000, but a customer who needs only a few miles of range could choose just two packs if desired. An eight-pack option is in the works as well, he said. A six-pack configuration would provide about 150 miles range, Wires noted.
Lindell said initial ride-and-drive customer events have gone well, and he expects the vehicle to quickly gain traction.
“These trucks are the tools for their business,” he said. “The thing that stands out to them is this truck is purpose built” for delivery.
The C-Series features low floors, access through traditional delivery doors so drivers can step in and out of the vehicle easily, and 6,000 pounds of payload capacity.
“Today, I don’t think there is any doubt that if put into the right application, this is the best option,” Lindell said.