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FERNDALE, Mich. — Rivian isn’t the only all-electric truck-maker in the Motor City.
While the Plymouth-based firm has wowed auto show attendees and attracted hundreds of millions in investment from Fortune 500 companies including Amazon and Ford, Ferndale-based Bollinger Motors has also targeted its stylish electric trucks for production next year.
Revealing tomorrow! Thursday September 26, 2019. 5pm ET sharp. See the new Bollinger B1 and B2 electric truck livestream reveal on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. pic.twitter.com/MCiXARvSbJ— Bollinger Motors (@bollingermotors) September 25, 2019
Bollinger Motors debuted its four-door, all-electric SUV and pickup trucks in Ferndale on Sept. 26. Called the B1 and B2, respectively, the big and rugged vehicles are targeted at off-road enthusiasts with a penchant for pricey Range Rovers.
Bollinger is the brainchild of industrial designer Robert Bollinger, who largely self-financed his effort with a fortune earned in the cosmetics industry.
The inspiration for the EVs came from “living on a grass-fed farm in the Catskills in upstate New York,” Bollinger said in an interview on Autoline this spring. “I wanted to go back to a childhood dream of starting something automotive. I needed a truck out of necessity; it’s what I wanted to drive.”
After hammering out a rough vision of his prototype on his farm — the vehicle’s severe, boxy design owes itself to its founder’s design aesthetic and the fact that it doesn’t use stamping dies to save development money — Bollinger introduced an early B1 prototype at Classic Car Club of Manhattan in 2017.
The response was electric, and Bollinger had 28,000 hand-raisers interested in his products by mid-2019. A move to Metro Detroit soon followed so that the growing company could take advantage of Michigan’s deep engineering and automotive vendor resources. Plans are to build them in Ferndale.
With Jeep Wrangler-like dual locking-differentials, knobby tires, 15-inch ground-clearance (adjustable up to 20) and 10-inch suspension travel, the B1 and B2 are designed to explore Bollinger’s farm — and the limits of the outdoors.
Bollinger designed the truck electric to take advantage of EVs’ inherent physical qualities — battery in the floor, low-end torque and electric motors driving front and rear axles — to offer utility and hauling capability.
“It was obvious to go electric — anyone starting anything now in automotive has to be electric,” Bollinger said. “Electric is so much better than gas — there is pass-though [space] in the middle of the truck, lockable storage space in front, and two motors.”
The interior is open as a pass-through space. Both the front and rear ends of the vehicles have drop-down tailgates so that you can run long cargo — lumber, rolled carpet, steel beams — from one end to the other. The B2 pickup has enough pass-through space for 16-foot-long lumber. The B1 SUV can accommodate 13-footers.
The pickup will feature a 6-foot bed, which is extendable to 8 feet by dropping the wall behind the rear seats.
Rivian vehicle by Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg News
The B1 and B2 are classified as Class 3 trucks weighing between 10,000 and 14,000 pounds — the same class as a Ford F350 Super Duty. The skin is made of aluminum, but most of the mass comes from the huge battery that will give the truck over 200 miles of electric range while offering the capability to tow a claimed 7,500 pounds or carry 5,200 pounds of payload.
While Rivian has already received 100,000 orders from Amazon for delivery trucks, Bollinger is focused on selling at small volume to off-road customers.
“We needed to be in our little niche — and own it. I don’t want to raise millions of dollars, I don’t want millions of square foot of space, I want to know everyone in the company,” Bollinger said.
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The B1 and B2 batteries are liquid cooled and heated to maintain battery range in all kinds of weather. The vehicles are spare both inside and outside — no big, fancy Tesla touchscreens here — with an emphasis on utility. All of the vehicles’ doors and glass are removable to get close to nature.
Pricing will be announced closer to production in 2020. Expect a sticker more like Range Rover than Jeep.