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Workhorse (WKHS) unveils new all-electric step van, a 1,000 cubic foot cargo box on wheels

Long-running commercial EV developer Workhorse has reemerged after a couple years’ hiatus from the public eye with a new electric step van called the W56. The new 1,000+ cubic foot cargo box made its official debut during NTEA’s Work Truck Week in Indianapolis, Indiana, this morning. Check it out.

Workhorse Group Inc. ($WKHS) may not be a name you’ve heard in a while, but it’s more than likely one that you recognize as an early player in EV technology. The company’s history dates back to chassis manufacturing in the late 1990s.

In 2013, AMP EVs took over the Workhorse chassis brand to focus on electric vehicle manufacturing. Following the official name change to Workhorse Group, the company introduced an all-electric pickup truck called the W-15 back in 2016. By 2019, Workhorse was in talks with GM to acquire its production facility in Lordstown, Ohio.

Following a 10% stake in a new EV start-up you may have heard of called Lordstown Motors, Workhorse shared design details of its W-15 pickup under a licensing agreement that enabled what would become the Lordstown Endurance – an EV vehicle and maker with its own list of issues.

In 2021, Workhorse faced major controversy following investigations by both the US Department of Justice and the SEC pertaining to traded securities in the company. The reports stated that Executives at the company sold $60 million worth of company stock after learning its bid to supply EVs to the revamped USPS fleet was in trouble.

The order was eventually awarded to Oshkosh Defense. Workhorse originally filed a formal complaint with the US Court of Federal Claims, protesting the awarded contract to Oshkosh, but dropped the complaint in September 2021. At the time, current CEO Rick Dauch had recently been appointed and wanted to focus on other business opportunities. A week later, Dauch halted Workhorse’s limited electric van production indefinitely, citing a lack of confidence in their reliability.

The press room at Workhorse Group has been eerily quiet since then, but we’ve learned that in the past 18 months, Dauch and his revamped team have been working on launching a new era for the dubious brand, beginning with a new all-electric step van called the W56.

The new W56 electric van / Credit: Workhorse Group

Workhorse’s new van demonstrates “EV caliber to come”

Workhorse unveiled the W56 step van in front of a crowd at the Indian Convention Center this morning. The company shared that by leveraging its previous designs and millions of miles of service on roads, it was able to design the W56 as its first purpose-built chassis platform erected from the ground up at its factory in Union City, Indiana. CEO Rick Dauch was there and spoke to the work that went into the new Class 5/6 step van:

The W56 marks the first official vehicle designed and produced under our revamped team and is the culmination of many hours of hard work combined with process enhancements implemented over the past 18 months. This vehicle incorporates the extensive on-road learnings of our legacy vehicles and improves upon those models with a new custom-designed chassis, demonstrating the caliber of trucks that we will produce for years to come. As we complete the final steps in our transition from a technology start-up to a pioneering commercial EV OEM, we look forward to starting production and making initial deliveries later this year.

Workhorse shared that the new zero-emissions delivery van was designed to meet the demands of various jobs using commercial vehicles, stating it will come available in a number of configurations to support those various business applications. The W56 features a cargo box with over 1,000 cubic feet of space and a payload capacity of up to about 10,000 pounds.

As a local work/delivery van, the Workhorse W56 will offer up to 150 miles of range on a single charge; it was also designed with last-mile delivery drivers in mind. The electric van features a lowered step-in and wider cabin door for easier movement in and out of the ergonomically designed cabin.

Production of the W56 step van is expected to begin in Q3 of this year, but Workhorse shared that customer demonstration EVs should be ready to deploy in the coming weeks.

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Scooter Doll is a writer, designer and tech enthusiast born in Chicago and based on the West Coast. When he’s not offering the latest tech how tos or insights, he’s probably watching Chicago sports.
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