One of the most popular displays at the LA Auto Show was Bollinger Motors‘ B1 and B2 electric sports utility truck and truck for off-road on-road, uniquely crafted with every bit of utility needed and then some. Enthusiasts opened doors, crawled under the chassis and felt the massive tyres. Robert Bollinger is the visionary who is bringing a new transformative classic to market.
Bollinger exudes passion for his designs as he explains why he and his trucks have developed such a great following.
Why did he start a new truck company? Bollinger created the vehicle he couldn’t find and wanted to drive.
“I wanted to buy an electric vehicle and there was nothing on the market that I wanted. What I really wanted was a truck. I had a grass-fed cattle farm and we needed the truck to move hay and also ploughing all that snow. I wanted it to a be an all-wheel-drive truck that wasn’t available,” says Bollinger.
Bollinger always knew he wanted to design cars when he was a kid he sketched cars. He graduated from Carnegie Mellon with a degree in industrial design. He wound up working in New York in advertising. He helped his friend John Masters with his organic hair and cosmetic company, eventually leading the company.
“THREE Months OF Seven days a week, eighteen-hour days.”
In only four years Bollinger has accomplished a lot. He started designing the vehicles in upstate New York, revealing the first two-door B1 and B2 at the LA Auto Show in 2017. He’s been busy ever since…
“We moved from upstate New York to Detroit. Then hired 30 people in Detroit. We found a building to move to which is not easy to do. We built our own prototypes in-house; that was three months of seven days a week, eighteen-hour days. We got the prototypes done to debut them at a media event in September in Ferndale, Detroit. Then we started getting ready the LA Auto Show,” says Bollinger who, on the way to Los Angeles, made a few test stops.
“Last week we went to Mohab Utah and Colorado for testing. They (the trucks) did great. They went through a few feet of snow and cold testing. It was all data collection so we could see what the batteries are doing in the cold it was 7 degrees F (-13.8 °C),” he says.
When the LA Auto Show is over the trucks will be taken back to Michigan and then the team is going to go up to the Upper Peninsula for true winter testing.
“We want to keep the batteries optimal in extreme heat and extreme cold,” says Bollinger, his design has radiators for cooling the batteries and the motors around the headlamps in the front of the B’s.
He called the style of the trucks “classic.”
“The truck is like a multi-purpose tool with styling,” says Bollinger who also liked the old Internationals. He notes that the style does affect aerodynamics but it is better for off-roading. Driving the trucks on the highway is going to affect driving range, but it’s more of a local vehicle and a second vehicle.
He sees the buyers for B trucks in three bubbles. The first is for utility and for work with ten electrical outlets to use a machine or a workshop. The second is for off-road fun and adventures. And some customers will buy a Bollinger truck because they want it to be ‘green’.
Bollinger B Truck Community
B truck buyers are already putting down deposits.
“We already put out our price point which is $125,000 and are taking thousand dollar deposits. We started talking to customers and had a party at the LA Auto Show,” says Bollinger. The company has been gaining a following since its inception.
“We have a lot of people who follow us on social media and whenever new information gets posted they share it with each other,” says Bollinger who is forming partnerships with dealers to sell the B’s and service them so they are near the owners. But that’s not all he sees for Bollinger B truckers.
“We want to have our own Bollinger base camps, that will be twenty or thirty acres where will have the trucks. If you can’t afford to buy one or live in the city and don’t need one you can rent them for a day go off-road – have fun and meet other people. If you own one you can bring it to the camp any time. Dealers can come and learn about them,” he says.
The most amazing part of the truck is the patent-pending pass-through that allows for long-boards, pipe or items to run right the truck for a length of up to 16 feet (4.87 metres).
The area is also a favourite of the team’s ergonomics tester, Paco a Pitbull-Labrador mix that goes to work with Bollinger. Paco likes people and Bollinger Motors’ friendly work atmosphere. Paco also likes to sit with his head against the window and just look outwards.
Technical specs are a truck driver’s or off-roader’s dream with hydro-pneumatic suspension, towing up to 7500 pounds, a payload of 5,001 pounds, variable ground clearance, dual motors, 614 horsepower, six gearboxes, 688 lb-ft of torque and zero to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds
The rear seats come out and both metal consoles come out of the bed so if you need to carry something big or long such as a piece of plywood it can fit in easily.
The trucks are transformative and transformational – in that many of the pieces can be taken off or removed. You can take all the windows, the top comes off, the doors can be removed, the windshield can be removed with a ratchet. There are also different outfitting options (see poster)
The dash is ready for right-hand-drive so it will eventually be adaptable for the U.K. and other right-handed driver countries.
“You’ll be able to order the panels in different colours and metal or glass and switch them,” says Bollinger. There will also be an option for a swing-out arm and a spare tire.
There is good news for California business owners who would like to use a B1 or B2 for business fleets. Bollinger Motors will be applying in the State of California for clean fleet incentives.
The modular aspects of the vehicles also bode well for all types of commercial trucks.
“We can make a cab on the truck chassis version to make it a fire rescue vehicle, make it an ambulance, or whatever,” says Bollinger, “There’s a whole commercial aspect to the business that we haven’t even touched yet. That’s why it’s the class 3 truck, to begin with, because we want to go commercial. We can be low volume l for beautiful trucks like this and low- volume or more volume with the commercial.”
“We proved our market. We found our people who are part of the family now. From day one Mark Foster is our brand director and has been about filming it showing our story. We’re about being honest and true and this is what we are doing,” says Bollinger.
The Future of Bollinger Motors
“First and foremost we want to get the B1 and B2 into production then we want to go back and make the two-door versions with maybe a smaller battery pack. People really love the two-door models. Then maybe have another vehicle after that a nice surprise or a nice new thing using what we know off of our DNA. I want to surprise people again,” says Bollinger.
“I want to keep innovating and developing and creating new products every day. Getting into production that’s very important but I also want to make sure that we all keep creating new things and doing cool stuff,” he says.
Bollinger attributes his success in automotive from what he learned working at John Masters.
“The biggest thing I learned from him was ‘trust your gut it,’” says Bollinger, “I learned that I like running a business. We sold it for a good amount of money and that’s what’s funding this. We’re doing a round of investment funding now and the next wave is going to get more expensive.
He’s not worried about the competition from the likes of the Tesla’s Cybertruck or Rivian because, making its trucks so unique, they are always going to be different than everything else. Bollinger confirms: “No other truck can do what our trucks can do.”