According to a recent U.S. Energy Information Administration Electric Power Monthly report, the average cost of electricity for transportation is just under 10 cents per kilowatt-hour in the U.S. At approximately 60 kilowatt-hours per 100 miles, that’s roughly $6, or six cents per mile for fuel.
In comparison, a one-ton gasoline or diesel van getting 10 MPG over the same distance would incur fuel costs that are four or five times higher, and that’s at today’s still relatively low fuel prices.
That’s one reason for the growing number of light- and medium-duty electric vehicle choices on the market. It’s a roster that will soon include a new city delivery model resulting from a design, development and production partnership between Dana and Workhorse Group.
The new Workhorse model will feature Dana’s Spicer Electrified integrated e-Drive axle. Expanding the Spicer Electrified portfolio, the e-Drive axle is designed for city delivery duty cycles and to offer a weight savings that allows for higher payload and more battery capacity for extended range.
The e-Drive’s axle integrated design optimizes packaging so there is more chassis space to position batteries inside the frame rails, the manufacturer explained. The extra space can also be used to accommodate features like side steps that are common on medium-duty delivery vehicles.
“Workhorse’s extensive development background and manufacturing experience in the EV space provide the capabilities we sought in a strategic partner,” said Mark Wallace, executive vice president of Dana and president of Dana Commercial Driveline Technologies. “The integrated e-Drive axle solution leverages proven competencies that will enhance the Workhorse electric vehicle architecture to deliver maximum efficiency at a reduced system weight.”
“We look forward to enhancing our EV offerings with Dana’s drivetrain and propulsion technologies,” said Steve Burns, chief executive officer of Workhorse. “This alliance uniquely positions us to jointly develop sustainable solutions that will encourage city delivery fleets to go electric and feel confident in the vehicle’s performance and cost of ownership.”
Dana electric vehicle architecture for Class 4, 5, and 6 vehicles includes a “drop-in” integrated water glycol cooled motor, transmission and axle power system, as well as an inverter. Dana also offers integrated motor and axle systems for Class 1, 2 and 3 trucks and vans.
This is yet another arrow in Workhorse’s electric vehicle quiver. The company also offers the E-Gen range-extended, medium-duty, walk-in step van that utilizes a proprietary chassis, powertrain and battery management system with Panasonic Li-Ion battery packs. The Class 5 vehicle has a 60-mile all electric operating range and with an integrated range extender can cover an additional 60 miles on a single charge. According to the manufacturer, the E-Gen can achieve an equivalent of 40 MPG in on-road applications.
Additionally, Workhorse is testing its N-Gen line of Class 2-4 electric walk-in vans with a local package delivery firm in the San Francisco area. The N-Gen model, with a 500-cu. ft. composite body, a one-ton load carrying capacity and a GVWR of 7,500 lbs, will provide an anticipated range of 100 miles on a single charge and an optional range extender can add 75 miles. In early testing, the N-Gen demonstrated efficiency equivalent to 60 to 65 MPG.
In the future, other configurations of the N-Gen line from Workhorse could include 700- and 1,000-cu. ft. models. Electric vehicles from the manufacturer also include the new W-15 pickup truck with an expected 80-mile battery range. Additionally, with an on-board gasoline generator the W-15 could provide an unlimited range of operation.
While higher in initial price than similarly sized gasoline or diesel vehicles, electric trucks can generate savings because they’re less expensive to operate and maintain after just a few years of service—depending on mileage. The anticipated return on investment period for these vehicles is also expected to be shorter over time as battery prices drop. Other benefits include meeting sustainability goals and addressing idling and noise regulations in local and delivery operations.