Workhorse Group, Inc., is moving forward in taking fleet orders for its W-15 Plug-In Electric Pickup, through an agreement made with utilities in southern California.

The original equipment manufacturer will be bringing 500 of its pickups with a plug to Southern California Public Power Authority (SCPPA), a joint power authority made up of 11 municipal utilities and one irrigation district in the region.

The company cites letters of intent also made with Duke Energy, Portland General Electric, the City of Orlando, and other fleet clients.

“We will be testing the truck to confirm our expectation that the W-15 Electric Pickup may save utilities money over the life of the vehicle, when compared to a conventional gasoline-powered pickup,” said Michael Webster, SCPPA’s executive director. “SCPPA and our publicly-owned utility Members are committed to sustainability, the safety of our drivers and the communities we serve. The Workhorse W-15 could assist in all of these areas by reducing emissions, as well as reducing fuel and maintenance costs.”

The W-15 light duty platform design is an extension of the E-Gen electric technology used in Workhorse medium-duty delivery trucks, according to the company. Panasonic 18650 lithium-ion batteries can carry the truck about 80 miles on battery only. While the press release doesn’t mention it, a small two-cylinder gasoline engine onboard acts as a generator to add a hybrid driving range of an estimated 310 miles.

The company said that it expects to offer the W-15 for an MSRP of $52,500. It will be revealed in early May at the ACT Expo in Long Beach, Calif.

Deliveries are expected to begin in 2018.

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The W-15 will also offer the feature of providing an energy source for fleets needing crews to tap into that power out in the field. Utility fleets can power equipment directly from the pickups battery power source. That power can be tapped into without the truck running, and could also be a backup energy source during blackout.

Workhorse is competing directly with Via Motors, which offers converted plug-in hybrid pickups to fleets. Via Motors had backing from former General Motors vice chair and Chevrolet Volt marketer Bob Lutz.

The company says manufacturing the plug-in hybrid pickup makes it unique in the market.

“We believe this will be the first plug-in range-extended electric pickup truck built from the ground up by an OEM in America.  Our existing electric medium duty, delivery truck business has demonstrated that low Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is compelling to fleets,” said Steve Burns, Workhorse CEO.

Workhorse Group is also known for testing out a drone package delivery system.