Brawny and brutish, the Bollinger B1 SUV and B2 pickup were designed for serious work and off-road applications. But the Detroit-based startup has unexpectedly unplugged the two EVs, shifting its focus to commercial truck applications.
Having sold an organic hair care products company, Robert Bollinger bought a farm on the hardscrabble landscape of New York’s Catskill Mountains.
He quickly realized he needed a vehicle that could handle all sorts of “hard stuff” off-road. But Bollinger didn’t want to settle for any of the smoke-belching options he found on the market.
In an epiphany, Bollinger concluded plenty of other folks would have the same needs, whether for a farm, a worksite, or to take camping. After moving to Detroit, he opened up the eponymous car company, Bollinger Motors, and started working up plans for two heavy-duty all-electric alternatives: the B1 SUV and B2 pickup.
Making even the new GMC Hummer EV look tame, the two models were designed to crawl over just about any terrain possible, all while providing plenty of storage holds and a lot of interior space. The big B2 could haul up to 16-foot lumber using a pass-through from the cargo bed.
But after promising delivery as early as 2021 and then repeatedly delaying the launch, Bollinger Motors today announced it is indefinitely “postponing” the development of its retail battery-electric vehicles. The suburban Detroit startup said it’s shifting its focus to medium- and heavy-duty all-electric commercial trucks.
“It’s the right move,” Bollinger told GearJunkie during a phone interview. “The decision to focus on the commercial market has been a long time in coming.” He added that more and more of his team have been shifting over to that part of the company during the past year.
Bollinger acknowledged the move will come as a disappointment to those who were longing for a truly go-anywhere all-electric pickup or SUV, adding that the company will now be refunding the deposits of some early customers.
“This may be a shock to them, but it’s the right decision for us.”
Electric Startup Struggles
The U.S. automotive market has long been closed to startups. The EV revolution has changed the game, however, with Tesla largely rewriting the rules. That company sold just shy of 1 million vehicles last year and is expected to keep growing as it opens new plants in Texas and Berlin.
Several other EV entrants are showing strong momentum, including Lucid and Rivian, the latter manufacturer offering its own electric SUV and pickup models.
But other startups are struggling. Lordstown Motors, which had hoped to launch its own heavy-duty pickup, the Endurance, is struggling to survive and recently sold its Ohio assembly plant. One-time hot prospects Byton and Faraday Future are also on life support.
Bollinger’s shift to the commercial market reflects changing market realities. Commercial customers were slow to embrace battery power. But they now face increasingly stringent emissions and mileage standards.
That’s the stick. The carrot is the fact that EVs promise significantly lower operating costs, especially on energy and maintenance.
Never Say Never
Going forward, Bollinger said, “We can use almost the same components,” including the electric motors, control electronics, and the battery pack the company has developed in-house for its commercial product.
But it only plans to supply the underlying platform. It will turn to “upfitters,” such as EAVX, to provide the top half of future vehicles, which could be anything from dump trucks to ambulances to medium-haul delivery vehicles.
It’s targeting what are known as Class 3 to 6 trucks. It’s intentionally avoiding Class 2 last-mile delivery trucks, where the competition has become fierce.
As to the B1 and B2 models, Bollinger’s founder is clearly disappointed with having to pull the plug, calling the two BEVs “the loves of my life.”
That’s why the official message is that they’re being “postponed.” The company has no plans in place, but “I know to never say never,” Bollinger said, adding that he hopes the company can eventually bring them back to life.