Bollinger’s Electric Pickup and SUV Are Made for the Mud

More than a decade into the modern age of electric driving, the auto industry has brought batteries to just about every kind of car. Depending on your taste and means, you can take home a city runabout, a startling sports car, a luxury SUV, a pickup truck, and more without leaving any emissions in your wake. You can even do a bit of trail scrabbling in an elevated, all-wheel drive “soft-roader” like the Jaguar I-Pace. But if you’re serious about off-roading—if you want to summit boulders and smash through rivers—you’ve still got to rely on a ride powered by internal combustion.

Robert Bollinger is working to fix that. His eponymous company last week fleshed out its plan to conquer the wilds on battery power, with an all-electric four-door SUV and four-door pickup truck. Dubbed the B1 and B2 respectively, the ultra-rugged duo follow Bollinger’s 2017 reveal of a two-door SUV concept. “I knew I wanted to develop an electric vehicle, but I didn’t want it to be a little roadster,” says Bollinger, a serial entrepreneur who has funded the effort with profits from the sale of a hair product manufacturer where he was CEO. “I wanted a tool. Something I can use on my farm—a truck that can hold plywood and two-by-fours and have the kind of off-road capabilities that our most avid supporters want as well.”

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Bollinger Motors, which started in upstate New York in 2015 and recently moved to Detroit, is just one of many electric-focused industry newcomers looking to cut off a piece of a pie long dominated by just a few major automakers. Rivian just landed an order for 100,000 electric vans from Amazon. Dyson has filed some rather interesting patents. Virya Mobility 5.0 is making electric rickshaws in India. But with their straight edges and minimalist surfacing, Bollinger’s new bash brothers look less like the future than the military-grade Hummers of old.

Bollinger’s vehicles comes with a two-speed transmission, a tech that’s slowly catching on in the EV world.
Photograph: Eric Adams
Which is fine, because each has the features trail-bashers care most about. Their massive off-road tires offer 10 inches of wheel travel. Their ground clearance of 15 inches trumps the Jeep Wrangler’s 11. They can splash through water 3 feet deep. Their dual electric motors produce 614 horsepower and 668 pound-feet of rock-conquering torque. They’ll carry a 5,000-pound payload. You can remove their doors and windows for a better view of interiors light on creature comforts, but made to be durable and easily hosed down after the action’s over. The trucks will carry 120 kWh batteries, bigger than any pack on the market today. That will enable more than 200 miles of range per charge, the company estimates, which isn’t bad considered the power and not-exactly-aerodynamic profile of the vehicles.

The trucks also come with some clever engineering. To deliver that extra ground clearance, Bollinger used what are called portal axles. These use separate gearboxes to raise the axles out of the undercarriage, freeing up space between the vehicle and the dirt. The company also developed its own two-speed transmission for each motor. Multispeed transmissions are slowly catching on in a mostly single-speed EV world. Porsche just introduced one in the Taycan, and transmission maker ZF has one in the pipeline. They offer advantages in delivering higher top speeds and greater acceleration for road cars, along with improved efficiency.

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