On a slightly chilly morning a couple of days earlier than Christmas, Bollinger Motors CEO Robert Bollinger indulged my request for a brief interview about his longtime help for electrical autos. Talking by FaceTime, Robert animatedly talked about Bollinger Motors’ extremely anticipated Sports activities Utility Truck, his ideas about different EV makers focusing on the trucking phase, and even his experiences as a Tesla shareholder.
Robert Bollinger graduated from Carnegie Mellon College with a level in Industrial Design. After working for a sequence of advert companies, he began a 15-year stint at John Masters Organics, the place he served as COO and CMO. In a while, Robert co-started a grass-fed cattle farm, and whereas working within the fields, he noticed the necessity for a greater truck — one that isn’t being made by the world’s premier carmakers.
Years earlier than he began Bollinger Motors in 2014, Robert Bollinger discovered himself very impressed by a small startup electrical automotive firm from Silicon Valley. Having had a smooth spot for EVs for years, his consideration was instantly piqued by the discharge of the unique Tesla Roadster and the Mannequin S sedan. That mentioned, his work on the fields meant sedan or a sports activities automotive didn’t actually match his wants. However, he opted to help Tesla, simply in one other method.
“When Tesla first got here out, after they had the Roadster and Mannequin S, I hoped to purchase one. I didn’t have a automotive — I had my truck. (The Roadster and the Mannequin S) by no means fairly match my specific wants, however I purchased (TSLA) inventory quickly after they went public. Over time, I simply saved shopping for,” he mentioned.
Being a shareholder of Tesla, Robert is all too acquainted with the actions of the corporate’s critics, significantly these of short-sellers. When requested how he dealt with the stream of negativity persistently being thrown in direction of Tesla, Robert merely remarked that he “simply saved shopping for.” Towards the noise from the corporate’s most passionate naysayers, “I simply saved using it up,” he mentioned.
Robert Bollinger and his group with their first car, the B1 Sports activities Utility Truck. (Photograph: Bollinger Motors)
With a primary mover like Tesla disrupting the automotive trade with the Mannequin S, Robert determined in 2014 to start out his electrical car startup. Working underneath the title Bollinger Motors, the startup opted to create a car that’s designed and constructed round utility. It will be, in quite a lot of methods, the truck that Robert all the time wished when working within the fields. It will be powerful, it will function in tough terrain, and most of all, it will be all-electric.
“I all the time believed in electrical. If you wish to begin a startup now, it needs to be electrical.”
The results of Robert and his small group’s work is the Bollinger B1, a car the corporate dubs as a “Sport Utility Truck.” The B1 is arguably essentially the most utility-focused EV that has been unveiled to date, with its Land Rover Defender-esque panels, its 33-inch tires, and its 15-inch floor clearance. The inside of the B1 echoes the design of traditional utility autos too, with analog gauges dominating the dashboard. The corporate can also be planning the B2, a pickup truck it intends to unveil within the close to future. Total, Robert notes that the B1 and B2 are created to push the envelope on utility autos, significantly as SUVs and vans these days are principally specializing in components equivalent to luxurious and luxury.
“In comparison with sedans, SUVs and pickup vans, they haven’t actually advanced that a lot. They get extra luxurious, however they by no means get drastically extra succesful. For instance, their floor clearance usually has not improved. It’s not likely till you go drastic equivalent to going electrical that you simply see how a lot you are able to do,” Robert mentioned.
Whereas the B1 has attracted a notable quantity of curiosity because it was unveiled earlier this yr (there are actually round 28,000 reservations for the car), different electrical automotive corporations are breaching the pickup truck market as nicely. Fellow EV startup Rivian, for one, just lately unveiled the R1T pickup truck and the R1S SUV, and Elon Musk has talked about on Twitter that he’s “dying to make” Tesla’s pickup truck. Musk even famous prototype of the upcoming car could be unveiled as early as subsequent yr.
The Bollinger B1 is designed from the bottom up as a utility car. (Photograph: Bollinger Motors)
Regardless of the emergence of pickup vans and SUVs from bigger, extra established opponents, the Bollinger Motors CEO acknowledged that he believes the market will probably be giant sufficient for everybody. Even with legacy carmakers shifting their vans to hybrids or all-electric autos, Robert believes that there will probably be customers whose wants can be fulfilled completely by the B1 and the B2. On this mild, the EV fanatic notes that he welcomes the arrival of extra electrical and electrified vans.
“In some unspecified time in the future, there will probably be electrical jeeps. There will probably be electrical vans from many carmakers. After we’re creating our personal model of the car, we now have our personal DNA; we now have our personal setup and specs. A number of the legacy corporations, after they lastly come in direction of electrical, they’re gonna have EV variations of what they’ve now. The primary hybrid F-150 may have the present structure.
“Rivian’s extraordinarily completely different than us. It’s extra mainstream, extra luxurious — and that’s nice. That’s their market, however it’s not ours. I’m certain when Tesla comes out with their pickup truck, it’ll be nice. However we’re nonetheless going to be completely different. I’m simply glad that there are extra electrical vehicles. I applaud them for doing a fantastic job, and I consider that we are able to co-exist very properly.”
One among these variations is in the way in which Bollinger goes in regards to the manufacturing of the B1 and the B2. Tesla, for one, is creating and creating a lot of their autos’ parts in-house. This, based on Robert, is strategic for Tesla contemplating the corporate’s dimension. For a a lot smaller startup like Bollinger, although, Robert famous that one other strategy was wanted.
“Tesla and all people else goes about issues in a different way than we’re. They raised tons of of tens of millions of to accumulate what they want. Whereas, we’re extra coming from the angle of hand-built, small group, low overhead. We’re rising from the handcrafted facet of issues if you’ll. We’re rising extra organically, rising as we have to develop. We’re at a small house for prototyping proper now as a result of that’s what we want,” he mentioned.
The Bollinger B1 echoes the design components of traditional off-road autos just like the Land Rover Defender. (Photograph: Bollinger Motors)
To date, Bollinger has moved to a bigger headquarters in Detroit. Robert notes that this was a strategic determination because it permits the corporate to be near distributors and a wholesome expertise pool. The B1 can also be being refined as the corporate prepares to start out producing the car. When requested if he thinks Bollinger will expertise its model of “manufacturing hell” as soon as it begins manufacturing the B1, Robert candidly remarked that he’s saving all of the hell for 2019, when issues will possible go actually loopy.
Along with his background as a longtime EV supporter and TSLA shareholder, I requested Robert if he opted to make use of any of Tesla’s open-sourced patents when Bollinger Motors was creating the B1. The CEO notes that they didn’t discover a have to faucet into Tesla’s patents since Bollinger just isn’t making its personal electrical motors or batteries. As a result of firm’s dimension, Robert notes that he and his group should not attempting to reinvent all of the parts of electrical autos. As an alternative, it’s extra preferable for the corporate to depend on partnerships with distributors as an alternative, significantly as there’s much less overhead.
That mentioned, the Bollinger B1 and Bollinger B2 do have similarities with Tesla’s Mannequin three when it comes to battery know-how. Robert remarked that he and his group talked with about 5 battery suppliers to guage and take a look at which sorts of cells can be finest for the B1 and B2. After a protracted listing that included pouch cells and prismatic cells from a number of producers, Robert famous that they finally determined to choose 2170 cells.
“Lengthy listing of battery eventualities, the 2170 cell simply rose to the highest. It simply gave essentially the most power density,” he mentioned.
The Bollinger B1 in its pure habitat. (Photograph: Bollinger Motors)
Similar to Tesla’s electrical vehicles, a lot of the Bollinger B1 and B2’s parts are domestically produced. Robert admits that there are essential parts for his electrical autos which are made elsewhere, however Bollinger is making an attempt to get them licensed for manufacturing in the US. As soon as produced, Bollinger goals to convey its autos to prospects throughout the globe. Robert famous that an RHD model of the B1 and B2 could possibly be produced with out a lot complexity too, due to the autos’ simple design.
The Bollinger B1 and B2 are outfitted with each a J1772 and a CCS port. Again in August, and never lengthy after Elon Musk talked about that Tesla just isn’t proscribing different EV makers from accessing its charging infrastructure, Robert posted a tweet to Elon Musk, asking if Bollinger’s autos can use the Supercharger Community. The CEO famous that he didn’t actually anticipate a response since he requested by social media, however because the B1 and B2 shut in on manufacturing, there’s a good likelihood that he may request Elon Musk for Supercharger entry as soon as extra.
“I solely requested them by a tweet, so I didn’t actually anticipate a response. However as we finalize extra issues, we’d come again to that. However we obtained so many individuals, Tesla followers, that have been rooting for us. I admire that,” he mentioned.
The submit From Tesla stockholder to startup CEO: How Robert Bollinger is bringing utility to the EV market Auto Reviews & New Cars on TESLARATI.com.