Electric and hybrid cars are still fairly new to consumers, but their presence is already making waves. Companies like Tesla are taking a good chunk of the market and existing brands like Subaru and Toyota have hybrid options for most of their models. But one area that is sorely lacking is electric trucks. Not just pickup trucks, either, as Ford is due to release a hybrid pick-up this year- large 16-wheelers meant for shipping and traveling cross-country. Given the amount of fuel these behemoths require and the amount of CO2 emissions they output, it’s a wonder that the idea of electric trucks hasn’t been tackled sooner.
While diesel-chugging trucks aren’t going away anytime soon, manufacturer Workhorse is setting off in the right direction. Their W-15 pickup features an 80-mile range just using the rechargeable lithium ion batteries, with a larger range when in hybrid mode (310 miles per tank). This means that the MPG for electric travel is a whopping 75, just under three times the fuel economy when running as a hybrid. It’s a solid vehicle to boot, with several safety features like automatic braking and all-wheel drive, plus a towing capacity of up to 5,000 pounds.
While the W-15 is geared towards consumers (with preorder reservations going on at the time of this writing), Workhorse is also a key player in updating delivery fleets. UPS has been working with the company to design and update their delivery trucks, starting with test vehicles in California. In fact, it’s possible you may have seen one of the Workhorse vans dropping off your package- just look for the text reading “Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle.” In a press release, UPS said that the cost of the new trucks- a total of 50- “will be comparable in acquisition cost to conventional-fueled trucks without any subsidies.”
That’s not all that Workhorse has going for it, however. For those wishing to take to the skies, there’s the SureFly helicopter. Yes, a helicopter- one with eight motors, battery backup, a 70 MPH top speed, and a ballistic parachute in case things go awry. The website boasts that it’s the helicopter reinvented after 78 years and that the “SureFly is a personal helicopter/VTOL aircraft designed for easy flight.” With a target price under 200,000 USD, it is a fair bit cheaper than other models currently on the market.
On the subject of aerial travel, Workhorse also taps into skyward voyages with their line of HorseFly delivery drones. These drones are also in testing, with UPS, the University of Cincinnati, and Wilmington Airport all contributing in some fashion. As Amazon continues to explore drone delivery options, Workhorse offers an alternative for companies other than the online shopping giant. According to a press release by UPS, the current plan for the HorseFly drones is for the drones to focus on rural deliveries (which are expensive and time-consuming on road) while the driver makes another. Although current tests use preset flight paths for the drones, UPS and Workhorse hope that they can use “UPS’s [sic] On-Road Integrated Optimization and Navigation (ORION)” to allow the drone to direct itself.
All of the above products are still in testing but show tremendous promise in making package delivery and personal travel safer and more eco-friendly- not to mention affordable. True, not everyone has the budget to splurge on a personal helicopter, but everyone shops online nowadays. Making mail orders easier and less dangerous to deliver will make shipping costs drop and could even increase productivity. Workhorse is proving that working hard and a dash of ingenuity can lead to producing groundbreaking vehicles- even if they aren’t necessarily on the ground.