Nearly two years after unveiling his prototype for a brawny all-electric off-road truck, former industrial designer Robert Bollinger on Thursday showed off “beta” versions of the electric Bollinger B1 SUV and B2 pickup.
He expects retail deliveries to begin in 2021.
The updated Bollinger Motors trucks remain faithful to the original’s rigid rectangular exterior design scheme. They are reminiscent of early Land Rover Defenders. They still have all-wheel-drive, dual electric motors, 15 inches of ground clearance, self-leveling suspensions and four-door, four-seat cabs.
Underneath their aluminum skins, though, most everything has changed, Bollinger said in an interview earlier this summer.
The trucks boast new motors, inverters, controllers and battery packs. Cargo capacity is down a bit, but horsepower and torque have increased substantially. The range has almost doubled. Each truck is capable of up to 200 miles of travel on a full charge of the standard 120-kiloWatt-hour battery, Bollinger said.
ADVENTURE, WORK NICHES
Bollinger initially said he is financing the venture with proceeds from his share of the sale of a New York-based organic products company. Unlike Rivian, a potential rival, Bollinger hasn’t publicized any outside investment and remains silent about the sources of continued funding. Rivian investors include Ford, Amazon and Cox Automotive.
Potential buyers have made about 32,000 “reservations.” But the company doesn’t charge a deposit or require anything more than a statement of interest. Bollinger hasn’t announced pricing but has said the all-aluminum trucks, with their “love it or hate it” appearance, won’t be cheap.
Bollinger said he doesn’t see his company becoming a mass producer, operating instead as a boutique company targeting the outdoor adventure and work markets.
That’s probably a wise course.
The total market for rugged off-road capable pickups and SUVs is between 500,000 and 600,000 a year, according to analyst Sam Abuelsamid of Navigant Research. “Even if we optimistically assume a five percent market penetration for electric trucks in the near future, that’s 25,000 to 30,000 units” for all-electric truck makers.
“Given Bollinger’s limited resources and an increasingly crowded market, it seems unlikely that they will be able to capture any significant volume,” Abuelsamid told Trucks.com.
Bollinger faces competition from several well-heeled challengers.
Rivian is a Detroit-area neighbor with more than $1 billion in financing. It plans to launch an electric pickup and SUV about the same time Bollinger intends to hit the market. While boasting more conventional styling, the Rivians are also designed to be quite capable in off-road settings.
EV pioneer Tesla has said it will launch an electric pickup, expected sometime in 2021. But it is unclear whether Tesla’s truck will be aimed only at the passenger and light-duty markets or be outfitted for rugged off-road work like the Bollinger.
Several other independent companies, including Atlas Motor and Workhorse Group, are developing electric pickups as well.
Bollinger initially intended to be in production by 2019. But he moved the company to Detroit from upstate New York last year. That delayed the production launch.
At Thursday’s prototype reveal at the company’s headquarters in Ferndale, Mich., Bollinger said he intends to provide information about truck pricing and production and sales schedules “in the coming months.”
Truck specifications released by Bollinger show that the horsepower rating has climbed to 614 from the original 360 hp. Torque is now 668 pound-feet, up from 422 pound-feet. The battery is heavier than the original 60 kWh version. Payload has dropped to a claimed 5,200 pounds from the original 6,100 pounds. Towing capacity, however, has increased to 7,500 pounds.
The SUV has an 118.8-inch wheelbase and length is 171.5 inches overall; the pickup’s wheelbase is 139 inches and the overall length is 207.5 inches. Both trucks are 72.2 inches wide and fall into the Class 3 gross vehicle weight range of 10,001-14,000 pounds.
The trucks’ dual electric motors – one for each axle – use a single-speed reduction gear transmission. A dual-range transfer case provides high and low ranges in both forward and reverse, though.
The self-leveling hydraulic suspension features quick disconnect anti-sway bars and up to 5 inches of travel. It can raise the standard 15-inch ground clearance to 20 inches or lower it to 10 inches.
The trucks retain the original prototype’s front trunk, or “frunk.”
They also have a pass-through tunnel that allows boards of up to a foot in width and 14 feet in length to be carried entirely inside the vehicle.
Bollinger said he developed the truck based on his personal frustration with conventional pickups when he operated a cattle ranch in the Catskill Mountains of upper New York State.