I Hope Bollinger Can Pull This Off

Illustration for article titled I Hope Bollinger Can Pull This Off
Photo: Bollinger

Bollinger’s electric SUV and truck have been in development for years now, and still not yet in production but also still edging ever closer to getting there. Bollinger’s ultimate plan is to do low volume vehicles at six-figure prices and I like it in large part because it has been doing all of this without the bombast of a Lordstown Motors, a Nikola, or a Tesla.

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This is mostly because Bollinger doesn’t want to be Rivian, Lordstown Motors, Nikola, or Tesla. Its aspirations are smaller and feel a bit more focussed. The B1, its SUV, and the B2, its truck, both feel like the culmination of a singular vision, which is rugged but electric, big but practical, and altogether too much but not altogether Too Much.

Contrast that with the Tesla Cybertruck, which feels like an exercise in antidesign and still might be vaporware; or the Nikola Badger, which really, really might be vaporware; or the Lordstown Motors Endurance, which also has a high chance of being vaporware; or the Rivian R1T, which is probably real but aimed more at higher volumes and destroying the Cybertruck, should that competitor ever emerge.

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And while the B1 and B2 could also still be vaporware, this company has been around since 2014 and has already passed a number of milestones lesser startups never reached.

According to Automotive News, it’s about to pass a few more:

Company founder Robert Bollinger, a former advertising executive who made his fortune in the cosmetics business, has been providing most of the funding for the company up to this point. However, he told Automotive News he is close to reaching two significant milestones: securing investment to take his three vehicles to production and inking a deal with a contract manufacturer to build the B1 SUV, B2 pickup and a chassis-cab model for commercial use.

And it’s been doing this with a slow-and-steady strategy that is very upfront about being for a very particular type of buyer.

The company plans to be profitable from the start by keeping its vehicles expensive and exclusive, with production capped at 2,000 to 3,000 units per year, Bollinger said.

“We’ve been very honest in that we are going for low volumes and the price point [$125,000] is high,” Bollinger said last week during an impromptu tour of the company’s new facility. “I’d rather make hundreds to thousands of vehicles and succeed than say we are going to have to make 100,000 vehicles before we are profitable,” he said.

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Automotive News then quotes an analyst who calls this plan “nearly impossible,” and normally I would probably agree, given the track record of car startups. But if nothing else this will probably be one of the first real-world runs of a manufacturing strategy that is the opposite of Tesla, which aspires to build everything in-house.

Similar to what Fisker’s planning to attempt, Bollinger is going to farm out the production of the B1 and B2 to third parties, which can mean lower costs for Bollinger since it won’t have to build a plant and staff an assembly line but also—or so the conventional wisdom says—possible build quality questions in the end product. It’s also probably Bollinger’s only choice since it is priced out of the alternative, but I hope this works out. We’ve seen so much of the B1 at this point that it would be a bit sad to not also see it cross the finish line.

News Editor at Jalopnik. 2008 Honda Fit Sport.

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DISCUSSION

2 questions:

1) Who wants this truck?

2) Who wants this truck enough to spend $125k on it?

Bonus Question: Why are aerodynamics not applicable to this vehicle?