Electric vehicles chief selling points are their usefulness on work commutes, top-line capabilities and eco-friendliness. You’re getting to work in the carpool lane, could potentially be faster than some supercars and don’t burn gas like internal combustion cars. Now, those selling points might be great for some. But for those who live a life where real adventure is the norm, getting an EV might take a little more convincing.
It was that kind of thinking that inspired the new Bollinger B1 - a ballsy, military-looking all-electric truck - that’s touted as the world’s first fully electric Sport Utility Truck (SUT).
A working prototype for the B1, recently unveiled at the Classic Car Club Manhattan in New York, gives us some insight on the inner workings of the EV. The SUT, which goes on sale in late 2018, will be offered with two lithium ion battery pack options including a 100kWh pack that has a 200-mile range before it needs to be recharged. The standard battery pack for the new Tesla Model 3, by comparison, has a range of 220 miles. But be clear, the B1 is a truck first, in every sense of the word, says Robert Bollinger, the company’s founder and CEO.
MORE THAN AN EV
“We started this with a clean sheet of paper,” Bollinger tells Playboy, in an exclusive phone interview. “We didn’t take something already existing and put an electric engine into it. I wanted to create a truck that actually did better things. So I couldn’t start with anything that was already out there. And if it’s a clean sheet of paper, it’s got to be electric because that’s where everything is going.”
In fact, Bollinger says the design of the battery compartment for the B1 actually helps to make the truck more off-road capable, because it gives the SUT a lower center of gravity.
Power wise, the B1 generates 360 HP, but more importantly 472 lb.-ft. of torque from its all-electric motors. Those motors are mounted both front and rear, driving all four wheels simultaneously. The increased torque also enhances the vehicle’s off-road capabilities, because of the instant torque power generated in an EV. Some of the other key performance features include a 4-wheel independent driving system, an all-aluminum chassis and a payload capacity of 6,100 lbs.
A NEW YORK FARMER’S ‘STATE OF MIND’
Bollinger, an industrial designer by trade, says the initial idea for the SUT grew out of a personal need for a vehicle for use on his farm in the Catskill Mountains.
In 2015, he started pulling together a small team of engineers and designers to help bring his idea to life. The goal, he explains, was to build a vehicle that has more functionality than just being an electric vehicle - whether you’re hauling wood or taking the top off for a drive to the beach.
“I was in an ATV in the backfields with my dogs and taking them to the pond… and was like, ‘Why isn’t there just one vehicle that can do this, this and this?’" Bollinger says. “And it all came together: shorter wheelbase, big ground clearance and all these capabilities. It was really about mountains and mud and rocks and wanting to get to places.”
The Bollinger CEO says the working prototype has been a major part of the B1’s development strategy, to ensure that every piece and component of the truck lives up to the team’s vision as they move closer towards mass production.
The overall styling of the B1 was designed to be simplistic, staying true to traditional look of a rugged, heavy-duty truck. Still, the SUT’s special “Gunhouse” Grey paint work, fitted with those black aluminum wheels, gives the Bollinger EV a more modern urban appeal that makes the idea of buying an old-school Ford Bronco for the city seem a bit dated.
When the B1 SUT goes on sale, it’ll be available in two variants - a two-door configuration like the prototype and a four-door model - with a total production run of around 5,000 units annually. Bollinger says he’s already getting flooded with calls from potential buyers and has plans for other EV-based truck ideas down the road.
The company hasn’t announced pricing for the B1 yet, but Bollinger says it’ll be comparable to “a nicely equipped SUV on today’s market,” but not as expensive as some of the more premium luxury models. Don’t expect a driverless B1 any time soon; Bollinger telling Playboy that a driverless truck goes against the fundamental idea of what makes the truck special.
“It’s a weird crux of many different things happening right now,“ Bollinger says. "There’s electric, there’s autonomous vehicles, car sharing. And often, electric and autonomous are married in a lot of conversations. There’s a lot of great real-world applications for that. But we don’t have any plans for autonomous. We see B1 as totally hands-on.”