I really like the basic, no-bullshit form-follows-function design of the Bollinger B1 electric SUV, and I sincerely hope Bollinger ignores every inane focus group suggestion to “design” it more, and that it makes it to market just as it is. The space utilization and functionality are possibly the best seen in any production car currently available, and, I’m delighted to note, it has a design concept I published back in late 2013.
I’m not saying that Bollinger used my design for a front-bed pickup with a ‘headgate,’ (or even that I was the first to come up with that, because, let’s face it, I probably wasn’t) but I am saying that what Bollinger came up with is remarkably like the sketch I did back then, and I’m just thrilled to see the concept made real.
I want to take a moment and evaluate some of the B1's design decisions, because a lot of really smart choices were made here, ones that really leveraged the advantages of an electric car design that utilizes a flat “skateboard” chassis, similar to what Tesla uses.
First, let’s just talk about that front cargo-area design. I consider this more of a truck-type bed rather than a trunk because it utilizes what I called a “headgate” (you know, like a tailgate, but up front, where heads tend to go.)
Look at that! I feel like freaking Nostradamus over here! The beauty of a headgate-equipped front bed is that with the gate up, it’s an ideal enclosed trunk for tool and equipment storage you may want to protect from the elements or sticky, unscrupulous fingers.
With the headgate dropped, it can carry items longer than the front bed (within safety limits) and the headgate allows for a much lower load height.
My design was assuming either a mid-mounted combustion engine or mounting electric motor battery packs transversely between the cab and rear bed of the truck; the B1, with its skateboard chassis incorporating motor and battery packs, has a huge advantage, as you can clearly see here:
This, I think, is where the design really shines. Because the B1 is, basically, a body placed atop a wheeled platform, the entire length of that platform can be used. Bollinger manages to made at least some portion of that long, usable area available, even with an outer body design that’s not really focused on maximizing interior space.
Because of seating and structural bulkheads, the width of the pass-through volume isn’t huge, but it’s still absolutely a useful volume: long pipes and lumber and all kinds of awkward, long things can be hauled, and with the headgate and tailgates down, it could even be longer than the length of the car, making something that looks like a B1-kabob.
If internal cargo volume is a goal, it’s quite easy to see how a possible Bollinger B2 van could be adapted from the basic design:
What would be really cool for such a van modification would be to retain the headgate and allow for cargo loading from the front of the van as well, something which I don’t believe any small van has ever done.
I’m also quite fond of the B1's use of easy-to-access exposed fasteners and off-the-shelf lighting hardware. If everything is as easily removable as it looks, this vehicle should be a pleasure to deal with after sideswiping 50 feet of wall in a parking garage.
While I’m sure there’s some aero-related range penalties for the B1's design, the overall focus on utility is something that’s sorely needed in the automotive landscape today, and I’m looking forward to scrutinizing one of these in person soon.