Workhorse Hybrid Delivery Vans Are 5 Times More Efficient


If you are in business, it’s all about the bottom line. Saving the world is all well and good, but not if it means lower profits. Workhorse has begun field trials of its hybrid delivery vans and the results are nothing short of amazing. In normal real world driving, these vans get between 5 and 8 miles per gallon. Workhorse says its hybrid electric E-GEN powertrain should be more efficient, but by how much?

Workhorse E-GEN hybrid delivery van powertrain

It has supplied 125 E-GEN equipped delivery vans to UPS. Those vans were recently placed in service in Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Nevada, Ohio and Texas. Workhorse monitors the performance of each system with an advanced telematics system it calls METRON — a proof-of-performance application that makes it possible for fleet managers to monitor and manage the performance of the vehicles in their fleet in near real time via a wireless 4G cellular network connection.

The vans have now completed the first 250,000 miles of service and the results are in. No salesman hyper-speak or puffery. No pie in the sky predictions. The data doesn’t lie and it shows the hybrid electric vans have achieved an astounding 30 MPGe rating in daily, real life, stop and go operation. At that rate, Workhorse calculates each van will save the owner $165,000 during its lifetime compared to a conventional van.

Of course the Workhorse version costs more to buy. How much more is not known. But lets assume, for the sake of discussion, the additional cost is $25,000 per vehicle. That means the net savings to the UPS or any other fleet operator during the life of the vehicle will pencil out to $140,000. How many of those dark brown delivery vans do you think UPS has in its fleet? The company says it has 104,926 package cars, vans, tractor trailers, and motorcycles.

Again, for the sake of discussion, let’s say 90,000 of those vehicles are delivery vans. Multiply $140,000 savings by 90,000 vehicles and you get total savings of $12.6 billion over their useful life. Hello? Do we have your attention yet?

“By achieving 30 MPGe with over 125 medium-duty trucks on the road, Workhorse is setting a new standard with our electric delivery vehicles,” says Steve Burns, Workhorse CEO. “Medium-duty local delivery trucks are the backbone of the Last Mile delivery system and a six-fold fuel economy increase, as well as reduced maintenance, and zero or near-zero emissions are a major change to the conventional delivery system.”

The Workhorse E-GEN is equipped with a 200 kW Sumo electric motor and a 60 kWh battery pack (45 kWh usable). It uses the familiar Panasonic 18650 cells — the same cells used in the Tesla battery pack. It also has a 2 cylinder internal combustion engine rated at 30 horsepower.

“These low-emission trucks are designed specifically to meet the stop and start needs of UPS’s urban delivery routes, while driving unprecedented fuel and maintenance savings. This new system enables the vehicle to accommodate UPS’s typical route on battery energy and uses a very small internal combustion engine to add additional energy to the batteries when and if needed and eliminates range anxiety,” says Burns.

The METRON system works in both directions. Workhorse can download software updates directly over the air to each vehicle. So from now on, that UPS van you see on the road today and the Tesla Model S you are craving will have something important in common.

Related: Electric Truck Overview — Electric Light-Duty Trucks, Medium-Duty Trucks, & Heavy-Duty Trucks

Source: Next Generation Technology 

Photo Credit: Workhorse

About the Author

I have been a car nut since the days when Rob Walker and Henry N. Manney, III graced the pages of Road & Track. Today, I use my trusty Miata for TSD rallies and occasional track days at Lime Rock and Watkins Glen. If it moves on wheels, I’m interested in it. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.

  • Ed

    Brilliant. The financial impact of this technology defines a true tipping point in delivery systems. As more of commerce is reaching us by vans – thanks, Amazon – this is going to get a lot of attention. Very exciting!

    • Steve Hanley

      Couldn’t agree more, Ed. When I read these hybrid vans are 5 TIMES more efficient, it kinda took my breath away!

      • Ed

        It suggests the Wrightspeed work might give similar results(?)

        • Steve Hanley

          I rather think it will. Wrightspeed focuses on heavy trucks whereas Workhorse targets the medium truck market. There are far fewer heavy trucks on the road but they contribute a disproportionate amount of diesel emissions relative to their numbers.

          I wonder if the Workhorse powertrain would be suitable for school buses?

          • kevin mccune

            Don’t see why not .

  • WebUserAtLarge

    “… total savings of $12.6 billion …” to be taken out of Big(ly) Oil’s pockets. 🙂

    • Steve Hanley

      Yup, that a few manufacturers of brake shoes, I suppose.

      • roseland67

        And Jiffy Lubes?

    • Burnerjack

      “Bigly”? or is it “Big League”?

      • WebUserAtLarge

        If you missed the pre-election goof-offs by the Orange Ogre, then it doesn’t matter.

        If you didn’t, it then it mostly depends on weather you are for the Orange Ogre, or with the rest of the civilized world. 🙂

        • Burnerjack

          No matter what you think of him, its “big league”. That’s all.

          • WebUserAtLarge

            Nope. 🙂
            Maybe my delivery was off, maybe it sounded better in my head, but extreme sarcasm was indeed intended in my original comment. I did mean to poke fun at the Orge in a big(ly) way… You know… have some fun at his expense. ABSOLUTELY regardless of what ‘big(ly)’ actually is or isn’t.

            BIGLY BIGLy BIGly BIgly Bigly bigly igli gli li i … fade in to silence…

        • Burnerjack

          “Civilized world” depends on order. Order depends on predictable and just application of the Law as delivered by the Legislature.
          In direct opposition is an “uncivilized world”, characterized by the capricious and unpredictable application of Law, and the resultant chaos, corruption and general disdain for a legislative and executive application which seems to only serve the well heeled. Dictatorships are often destroyed by such disdain, devolving into civil degeneration. Syria comes to mind. Many other examples exist as this is a perennial issue.
          Therefore, a return to a predictable application of the Law, as is the responsibility of the Executive Branch, is the cornerstone of a sustainable, civilized society of self determinant country.
          It would appear that President Trump is attempting to pivot away from ‘selective enforcement’ and return to a ‘uniform code’.

  • roseland67

    Does Jo read these?

    Kinda sorta almost exactly what I said 2 months ago.
    ICE drive train efficiency stinks in every way, shape and form compared to electric drive vehicles.
    Energy density of gasoline is 10-20 times more than that of battery drives, but 75% of the energy in gasoline does NOT move your vehicle it is wasted as heat.

    • kevin mccune

      That is one thing the racket likers like to ignore ( and of course electricity doesn’t need much refining , the accumulators help with that )

    • fred smith the deplorable

      If your efficiency claim were true, people would be rushing to buy EV’s, and would be abandoning ICEV’s. Money is the great measure of efficiency. The fact remains that ICEV’s have a much lower TCO than EV’s. Only when governmental penalties and subsidies are high, allowing a few EV operators to ignore the true TCO, are new EV’s even close. Buying used, after the taxpayer and the first owner/lessee has taken a huge financial hit, is another way for an EVO operator to achieve a competitive TCO.

      • roseland67


        It is true, but nice redirect, reminiscent of Jo.
        I said nothing of total cost of ownership, money, only efficiency.

        Moving forward that means:
        Energy in/Energy out,
        The closer that number gets to 1.0 the more efficient you are.
        If you’re put 10 gallons of gas in your car, about 2.5 gallons are used to move your car forward, and about 7.5 gallons is wasted as heat, or 2.5/10 = .25 or 25% efficient.
        Electric drive trains are 90-95 % efficient.

        I know it sucks, but you just can’t escape the math, after a while you are left in the crushing grip of logic and reason.

        • Burnerjack

          All very true. Now, let’s talk about “Economic Efficiency”
          That would be Money in/benefit&effectiveness out.
          Money in vs. Payload, range, (capability) and total cost of ownership over the planned term of ownership.
          Energy in/energy out is inconsequential until the cost of fuel vs. capability is calculated. Back to that “Money in/ capability out” thing. In this case, we can pick a baseline, such as present state of ICE Money/capability as 1.0 and then objectively calculate the Money/capability of other platforms. Hopefully, the other platforms will score higher that 1.0. If they do, they will see widespread market penetration and acceptance, if not, they will not, despite slick marketing and so forth.

  • IndyX

    “If you are in business, it’s all about the bottom line. Saving the world is all well and good, but not if it means lower profits.”
    And it is the same with individuals who are not wealthy…

    This is also why I dont worry much about EVs, solar and wind energy under Trump and the reality is it is the only reason why it expanded under Obama…
    Because only hardcore enviormentalists or millionares will pay more for less…

    • H.P. Singh

      And 3…2…1…a Trumpkin troll shows up and has to make it political!

      Well how about the fact that the EV battery uses LOCAL energy from a LOCAL utility which hires AMERICAN workers?
      Ever think of that, troll?
      Nope, you can’t conceive of any other benefits of an EV, can you?

      Didn’t your hero promise “to make America great again!”?
      I bet Indy is a Trumpkin who whines and complains about “radical Islamic terrorism” but drives a gas guzzler. Cognitive dissonance at its best!

      Of course he’s going to reply with “alternative facts” that the U.S. can somehow drill its way to energy independence with the mythical billions / trillions of barrels under our feet if only the government/environmentalists would let it happen.

      Patiently explaining things like cartel economics, API gravity, and EOR won’t help one bit to change his mind and/or understand how the global oil market actually works.

      Trump people are BEYOND hope.

      • IndyX

        Hey genuis I voted and it wasnt for Trump…
        You know what they say about people who assume…

        • H.P. Singh

          Sorry; Gary Johnson voter then.
          “Because only hardcore enviormentalists or millionares will pay more for less…”

          “Because only hardcore parents who don’t want their kids to have asthma, hardcore citizens looking to keep their fuel dollars local, hardcore fiscal hawks looking to cut our trade deficit, and hardcore patriots looking to keep our troops out of unnecessary conflicts….would pay ‘more’ for ‘less’.”

          There…fixed it for ya.

          Btw, if you read the article, there is a very clear and very large return on investment…increasingly true for most renewable technologies.

          Nothing to do with Obama or Trump, though Obama does deserve credit for early investments in the tech.

          EV battery prices are dropping fast, as are solar panel prices…not much Trump can do to stop that

      • Steve Hanley

        There’s a lot of trolling by both sides these days. At Gas2, I think it’s accurate to say we have a point of view, but we try to listen to anyone who has something to say.

        I may not agree with IndyX, but I hardly think I would call him a troll. Let’s work on a little higher level of tolerance, shall we?

        • H.P. Singh

          My apologies Steve.
          I’m frustrated when politics is brought up in articles about energy technology.
          There are so many positive developments going on in this area that I think it should be welcome news to anyone…regardless of their political affiliations. Cleaner environment, lower costs, less imported energy, fewer overseas conflicts…what’s not to like?
          I’ll withdraw my comment…

          • IndyX

            You should not try to read between lines because you are not very good at it…
            I am pro enviorment and bought a Leaf last year and if I had my way the US would be a world leader not follower in clean energy with solar panels going up everywhere…
            Back to my origional statement is that clean energy is only now being deployed because it is cheaper and it will continue to get cheap enough there will be no other realistic options…
            Nowhere did I say clean energy is bad…
            And it is also not very polite to try and tell people what their opions are…

          • Steve Hanley

            Not to worry. I am guilty of using too strenuous a voice on many occasions. What we need more of today is talking TOO each other rather than shouting PAST each other.

            The internet and social media make it far too easy to shout. We need to teach ourselves new ways of communicating effectively in a digital age. Not an easy task, I grant you.

          • H.P. Singh

            Fair enough. No doubt there is a lot of ‘reading between the lines’ in the current political climate, and I’m as guilty as anyone.

            I applaud IndyX for driving a LEAF and doing his part for sustainability.

            I consider myself pro-clean energy, but take issue with (what I believe) are self-defeating positions taken by environmentalists, particularly with respect to natural gas, nuclear and carbon capture.

            However, nothing compares to the way hybrid/EV cars have been hijacked by the ‘green crowd’. It drives me nuts (even if I didn’t put it in the most succinct words!) It is literally IMPOSSIBLE to find an article about hybrid/EVs anywhere on the internet without mentioning being green, being smug, saving the planet, saving the polar bears, feeling good, etc. etc.

            This, I assure you, has created a backlash amongst large segments of the driving public…. it’s basically a polarizing effect where people don’t like being told/lectured what to drive, and “if those greenies are driving one, then I”m NOT going to drive one!”.

            So sorry for mistaking IndyX for one of the polarized people, but I blame environmentalists for creating and perpetuating this meme. There are so many good reasons to get a hybrid/EV, especially ones conservatives can get behind, like saving money, having market choice and competition, lowering our trade deficit (thereby strengthening the dollar) and fewer entanglements in the Middle East.

            But NO ONE ever talks about these issues…when was the last time you read an article that described a hybrid/EV buyer as a patriot as oppsoed to a greenie?

            And what is the end result of this decades-long campaign to make hybrids/EVs exclusively about climate change? The numbers don’t lie!:

            – U.S. produces 20% of global GHG emissions
            – Transport, in all forms, accounts for 30% of U.S. GHG emissions
            – Light-duty vehicles account for 50% of U.S. transport emissions

            20% x 30% 50% ——————> 3%

            So there you have it. If EVERY SINGLE car, pickup, minivan, SUV & CUV in the U.S. was converted to a pure EV (no hybrids!) tomorrow AND they were charged with zero-carbon sources of electricity, global GHG emissions would drop 3%!!!

            So, for a mere 3% reduction in GHG, environmentalists have completely sealed in the national consciousness that hybrids/EVs are ONLY about being green, with the effect that they will likely never appeal to more than 20% of the population that cares (and is willing to pay more) about environmental issues.

            20% of cars is not even enough to get us off of foreign oil, forget GHG. And of course until people start talking about ALL the other benefits of getting off oil, we will likely NEVER get conservatives into hybrids and EVs!

  • Doug Bursnall

    This is why USPS needs to move electric quickly, with there similar trip lengths and more but smaller vehicles I would expect similar savings

    • Steve Hanley

      Once UPS hears about this, I would be on the phone to Workhorse asap!

      • Ed

        How can I invest in Workhorse?!?!

        • Steve Hanley

          NASDAQ symbol WKHS.

  • mb

    Question for Workhorse:
    How easy is it to make a version with a motor around 60-70kW and could that be made to fit a Grumman LLV?

    • jamcl3

      I suspect that ICE is the BMW 2 cylinder from the i3, meaning it is already tuned for emissions compliance. So they would probably need to source the Volt engine from GM to do what you suggest?

      Seems more likely to put a bigger battery and start the gas engine at a higher SOC, rather than switch to a bigger engine, but what do I know?

  • fred smith the deplorable

    MPGe is both irrelevant and a mostly worthless number. The number that really counts is miles per dollar / total cost of operation. If the hybrid van truly can be shown to save $140k over its service life, it will be an easy sell. And it won’t need government subsidies or forced compliance.

    PHEV’s are the most logical path to free-market acceptance of EV’s. If / when the EV message changes from “fossil fuels and the people who use them are evil planet killers” to “you can save money with EV technology”, and step away from the hysteria and governmental forced compliance, the whole country will win.

    • jamcl3

      I suspect the upfront cost premium is higher but TCO is still improved.

      That is an interesting picture you suggest, what comes to mind is the devil dancing at the bottom of the oil well and angels dancing around the solar panels. Ha ha. But it is really about $, and renewables are well established as the low cost energy sources in large parts of the country.

      We just need to get fake news out of the battery hype to see where TCO lands in the long run.

    • Burnerjack

      Right on the money Fred.

  • Burnerjack

    Presently driving a Ford 250 van with a V6 engine. I get 13 mpg. I do not drive for ‘mileage’. Not a maniac, but not ‘gentle’ either. Will they have a vehicle in this class as well? What might be reasonable expectations of such a vehicle?
    I was very excited about the WH pickup for personal use until I read the specs. Both range and payload were a bitter disappointment for me. Hope both can improve enough to be competitive with the presently available IC versions.