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Workhorse shows off the latest in electric-pickup vaporware

Designed for fleet use, the goal is to get these trucks on the road in 2018. Ideally.

The W-15 does look pretty gnarly.

Workhorse Group Inc.

We're on the verge of electrifying the trucking industry, and players both big and small want to cash in.

This latest electric pickup concept comes from Workhorse Group Inc. And while it might be vaporware, it might help clean up the fleet industry, should it become reality.

Workhorse specializes in battery-electric delivery trucks, so the W-15 electric pickup is a natural extension of its skill set. The W-15 promises a Panasonic lithium-ion battery pack capable of 80 miles on a single charge. To extend that range for heavy users, an internal combustion engine will provide a source of electric motor juice, similar to the BMW i3 or Chevrolet Volt.

The concept's renderings promise a massive crumple zone to help adhere to modern safety standards and a proper steel ladder frame underneath the composite body. It should seat five and come with a boatload of power outlets to help power other items on the job site. Workhorse also promises semi-autonomous systems such as automatic braking, which has not yet caught on with pickups.

The reason I'm hedging my bet and calling it vaporware comes down to one simple thing -- money. It costs boatloads of cash (estimates hover in the billions) to create a brand new vehicle that passes all federal safety standards. With a market capitalization roughly one-tenth the amount of what it costs to build a car from the ground up, and a negative net income as recently as December 2015, I'm still rather skeptical that Workhorse can pull it off.

From this angle, the W-15 sort of resembles a futuristic Ford F-150.

Workhorse Group Inc.