Is this the eco-friendly off-road SUV we've been waiting for?
Electric cars are making bigger inroads into the market, and electric delivery vans are beginning to go to work in the logistics sector, but smaller electric trucks and SUVs haven't really broken out yet. However, with the recent announcement from Bollinger Motors about its forthcoming all-electric, all-wheel drive B1 vehicle, we might start to see more movement from the bigger players in the electric off-road vehicle category. Then again, does the average SUV vehicle buyer want to go electric, or is this more of a niche market for government fleets and commercial use? Either way, the working prototype of the B1 is a new direction in electric mobility, and is worthy of a closer look.
Instead of an SUV, Bollinger Motors calls its B1 a "sport utility truck" (SUT) that has "exceptional off road capability," and whereas there are a number of SUVs and crossovers that can do some off-roading or have some added traction features such as all-wheel drive, this new vehicle is built like an honest-to-goodness truck. The B1 features a rugged chassis and drivetrain, wrapped in a lightweight aluminum body, and has 15.5 inches of ground clearance for navigating rough terrain. The battery packs and the drivetrain are all low and between the chassis rails, which makes for a low center of gravity while freeing up space for cargo capacity.
Power to the wheels comes from a dual-motor powertrain, with the front and rear motors capable of generating 472 lb-ft of torque, and delivering up to 360 hp (270 kW) to the drivetrain. The entire truck weighs about 3,900 pounds (1769 kg) and has a towing 6,100 lb (2,766 kg) capacity, but when empty, can go from 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds and can hit 127 miles per hour. Owners will have two battery options, 60 kWh or 100 kWh, capable of a range per charge of either 120 miles or 200 miles, and a charge time of 7 hours and 12 hours, respectively. Regenerative braking will help recoup some range, while also potentially making it a more maneuverable and nimble vehicle on rough terrain.
The Bollinger Motors B1 also incorporates a host of other off-road ready elements to keep the truck stable and the traction high on all types of terrain, and presents a classic utility truck profile and clean interior. Plenty of storage space is available in the rear and the 'frunk', it even has a pass-through built into it that can handle 8-foot long boards, and the hardshell can come off so the B1 can go from full-cab to half-cab. With 10" of wheel travel, it's got plenty of wiggle room for rough country, and with seating for four, the B1 can carry the whole crew along.
One other incredibly useful aspect of an electric vehicle is its use as a power source, and Bollinger Motors has incorporated that functionality by building in two easily accessible 110V electrical outlets, as well as USB and 12V outlets, which could come in handy for everything from topping off the charge on a GoPro to running power tools at an off-grid site. For small tasks, the effect on the B1's battery levels are probably minimal, however, there's a practical limit to its usage as a large battery pack, which is that you have to manage your energy storage and your route miles with your plug-in power demands, because there's no jump-starting of an electric vehicle after a long day of using it as a generator.
It appears as if the Bollinger Motors team has pulled off quite a feat, based on the specs and visuals on the working B1 prototype, but where the rubber meets the road (or not) is the pricing, and at this point, the company is playing its cards close to its vest, with the only indication being statements to the effect of the cost being "competitive with comparable SUVs." In reply to my email about pricing, the company stated, "We are looking to have retail pricing by the end of the year and will hopefully start production in late 2018 and have them ready to ship in early 2019." In the meantime, the company is gauging interest in this electric sport utility truck with a no money down, no obligation reservation opt-in on its website, which Bollinger will use to notify potential customers with production updates. According to the company, in early 2018, those reservation holders will be able to order the B1 with a $1,000 down payment.