Bollinger has officially unveiled its B1 off-road EV – and it looks pretty promising
One of the key signs of a maturing EV industry is the willingness with which manufacturers are now taking on the challenge of heavy-duty and off-road, all-wheel drive (AWD) vehicles. And the newly unveiled EV from Bollinger is a case in point.
As the New-York based EV start-up’s first model, the B1 makes an impact. Described as a “no-nonsense back-to-basics all-electric sport utility truck (SUT) with exceptional off road capability” the truck takes the classic 3-box design and adds a truckload of electric power.
“We are so thrilled to be able to finally take the wraps off of our Bollinger B1 SUT,” said Bollinger Motors’ founder and CEO, Robert Bollinger. “This is the culmination of what has been a 40-year-long boyhood dream of mine and I couldn’t be more pleased with the vehicle and the incredible team who worked so hard to create it.”
Much is made of the vehicle’s chassis design and balance, but let’s start with some more fundamental specs. Its dual-motor powertrain configuration uses front- and rear- mounted synchronous motors to drive all four wheels, delivering up to 270 kW (360 hp) and 472 lb-ft of torque. This will take it from 0-60mph in 4.5 seconds and up to a top speed of 127 mph – not bad for a truck weighing almost 1,800 kg.
According to Bollinger, the production model will be available with two battery pack options: 60 kWh or 100 kWh, offering 120 or 200 miles in range. While that might not satisfy the long-distance traveller, it should be plenty to cover several days of commercial use.
A cut above
The B1 has an aluminium chassis to keep overall weight down. This offers a wheelbase of 105 inches, front and rear track of 68 inches, an approach angle of 56 degrees, departure angle of 53 degrees, and break over angle of 33 degrees. Ground clearance is 15.5 inches, although the company says this will be adjustable “using a self-leveling, 4-wheel independent, hydro-pneumatic suspension within the 10 inches of wheel travel.”
The additional weight and placement of the battery is also an advantage. “Because the entire drivetrain and battery storage system is located between the chassis rails, the B1 has abundant and unique storage areas and a very low centre of gravity providing for unsurpassed stability,” Bollinger lead engineer Karl Hacken explained. “The hydraulically-assisted steering rack was designed in-house allowing us the ability to fine tune the driving dynamics to our exact specifications.”
Charging is done via a J1772 universal connector for conventional 110V and 220V charging, but a CHAdeMO charge port on the fender allows for up to Level 3 fast-charging. For those planning serious off-roading, Bollinger also notes that the battery pack compartments are encased in four layers of protection, with metal casings and water tight seals, which will withstand submersion under in more than a metre of water for 30 minutes.
The interior remains refreshingly utilitarian. It will seat up to four passengers including the driver, but its main purpose appears to be flexibility and functionality. Case in point, as Bollinger says: “For ease of cleanup the interior can be fully hosed down as all of the instruments have rubber seals and gaskets and polyurethane-coated floor pans.”
As well as the rear cargo space (which can be extended by removing the rear seats), the B1 also has a “frunk” which is handily accessible through the front console. The front can also be fitted with a 12,000lb hydraulic winch.
Models will apparently be available in both full- and half-cab.
As we’ve seen with other AWD and electric work vehicles, another major advantage of EVs is in powering tools and equipment directly from the battery pack. “We put 100 volt plugs throughout the truck so you can use it to power any equipment and tools you might need out in the field. USB and 12 volt plugs are also integrated into the dash to cover all power needs,” the company notes.
To B, or not to B?
The B1 was officially unveiled at the Classic Car Club of Manhattan last week, but it may be over a year before customers will be able to get their hands on one. Bollinger will announce pricing and production targets later this year, but did confirm that the B1 would be positioned “at a price point of a nicely equipped sport utility vehicle.”
Once manufacturing is finalised, B1 deliveries are planned to begin within 19 months. In early 2018 reservation holders will be able to order their B1 with a $1,000 down payment. Bollinger will use a direct-to-consumer sales model at first, although does plan to open retail stores in major US cities.
Certainly though, the AWD market is one ripe for disruption. Given the petrol and diesel consumption of most off-road vehicles and trucks, commercial users in industries like agriculture and construction could stand to make significant savings. That only increases when multiplied over an entire fleet of vehicles.
Pricing questions aside, ElecTrans sees this as one of the most persuasive offerings in terms of features and commercial opportunity – and Bollinger thinks it has a fighting chance of success too. As Engineer CJ Winegar commented: “This vehicle signifies a huge leap above what is currently on the market. There’s nothing like it out there.” Based on what we’ve seen, we’re inclined to agree.