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Workhorse Group applies for $250M gov't manufacturing loan

The money will help the company build its first electric pickup truck, the W-15.

Workhorse Group

Developing and building a brand-new vehicle is a very expensive proposition, even if it pays off down the road. That's why Workhorse Group is getting a little help from the feds.

Workhorse Group has applied for a $250 million loan from the US Department of Energy's Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program, Reuters reports. The company will reportedly use this month to equip its plant in Indiana, which will eventually produce the W-15 electric pickup truck.

There aren't too many extended-range electrics that look like they want to punch you in the face, but the W-15 is one of 'em.

Workhorse Group

The W-15, which I have already apologized for calling vaporware, is an electric pickup truck with a gasoline range extender. Its electric motors produce a net 460 horsepower, and it should achieve about 80 miles on a single charge. While it can be plugged in when the battery depletes, there's also a gasoline range extender that can juice up the battery on the go. A carbon fiber composite body keeps weight low. The styling is... unique.

Yet, there appears to be quite the market for this kind of truck. "Workhorse has received letters of intent to purchase more than 5,000 W-15s, which we believe demonstrates that fleets are eager to incorporate range-extended electric pickup trucks," said Stephen Burns, Workhorse CEO, in a statement.

Workhorse Group is set to unveil another electric vehicle -- a last-mile delivery van -- at CES 2018 in January. That vehicle, the N-Gen, features an optional delivery drone, similar to a system it tested with UPS earlier this year.

The Department of Energy's ATVM loan program helps automakers big and small prepare to manufacture "advanced technology vehicles" in the US, including battery-electric vehicles. Prior recipients of ATVM loans include Ford, Nissan and Tesla. Fisker received a loan, as well, but it defaulted when the company (and the Fisker Karma it built) went belly-up.

Electric pickup trucks are an as-yet unexplored corner of the automotive industry. Ford has already announced plans to offer a hybrid variant of its venerable F-150 pickup, but no major automaker has yet to discuss an all-electric truck like the W-15. 

Bulky from every angle.

Workhorse Group