The Bollinger B1 (above) and B2 are identical from the C-pillar forward, and both feature a vehicle-length 16x14-in. pass-through enabled by packaging the driveline systems below the floor. (Bollinger Motors)

Bollinger Motors reveals second-gen Class-3 EV prototypes

Ferndale, Michigan-based start-up debuts its second-generation, all-electric SUV and truck prototypes, highlighting in-house designs.

Bollinger Motors recently unveiled its second-generation Class-3 EV prototypes. The start-up, based in Ferndale, Michigan, revealed the latest beta of its B1 SUV and B2 truck prototypes, highlighting the amount of in-house engineering and design. As a Class 3 (GVWR 10,001 to 14,000 lbs) vehicle, the Bollinger Motors truck and SUV are in the same classification as a Ford F-350 or Ram/Chevy 3500 truck. “This is the only all-electric Class 3 truck with off-road capability,” founder and CEO Robert Bollinger said of the B2.

“Our beta version vehicles look very much like the original alpha prototype vehicle that debuted in 2017, but almost every component on our B1 SUV and B2 truck prototypes is different,” said Karl Hacken, Bollinger Motors Chief Engineer. The four-door B1 and B2 are identical from the C-pillar forward, with the B2 truck’s 139-in wheelbase stretching 20-inches longer than the SUV. Both aluminum-bodied prototypes feature a vehicle-length 16x14-in. pass-through enabled by packaging the driveline systems below the floor.

The relatively small packaging space (16.75 x 25 x 16 in.) for the driveline systems – electric motor, gearbox, inverter, oil pump but not the battery pack – presented a significant engineering challenge. “When we looked at all of the available off-the-shelf motors and gearboxes, the vast majority of products just didn’t fit our package constraints,” CJ Winegar, Bollinger’s powertrain engineer explained. “And if the product did fit our packaging needs, it didn’t meet our performance requirements.”

Designed in-house, the axle-hub gear set solved multiple issues. “The in-wheel gear set provides an approximate 2:1 gear-ratio reduction and allows the main gearbox to be basically half the size in torque capacity,” Hacken said. Using an axle gear set also shrank the size of the half shafts and brake rotors, and altered the wheel and axle centerlines. “The nearly 5-inch offset between the wheel center and the constant velocity joint input means the control arm, the brakes, and the chassis are higher up, which is an extreme benefit in terms of off-road capability,” Hacken said. The prototype vehicles have 15 inches of ground clearance wheel to wheel.

Performance and driving-range targets
The Bollinger B1 and B2 trucks have dual brushless permanent magnet AC motors that produce a combined 614 hp (tk kW) and 668 lb-ft (tk Nm) driving the front and rear axles. A two-speed transmission has nine helical-profile gear sets with an electric actuator to shift between hi and low range. Power is stored in a skateboard-style 120 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, and production versions are slated to have an estimated 200-mile driving range.

“In this world of big names coming in and buying up battery supply, it’s good to have different vendors. So for us, we have two different battery packs being developed simultaneously,” said Bollinger, who declined to name the suppliers. “It’s a good thing to do if you’re in the electric world: Spend twice as much money to ensure that you can have something later,” Bollinger quipped.

An extruded aluminum frame supports the battery pack, suspension and motors. “It’s sort of a hybrid unibody because the body is bonded and riveted to a structural frame,” said Hacken. The B1 and B2 vehicles have a 5201-lb payload capacity and a 7500-lb towing capacity. Top speed is estimated at 100 mph with a 0-60 mph time of 4.5-seconds.

The B2 truck can carry 16-foot long lumber or other cargo via the full-length passthrough, while the B1 SUV can transport 13-foot long cargo with both lift-gates closed and 16.4-ft cargo with the lift-gates open. Both vehicles have removable doors and glass. “Our next step is to build a dozen vehicles to test all of the systems. We’ll work with production sources to be as close to production intent as possible with these development/test vehicles,” Hacken said.

Once testing and validation is completed, production-vehicle builds will be done by a third-party manufacturer. “Our first-year production plan is to do 1,000 vehicles for the U.S. market only,” Bollinger said. “We’re still shooting for 2021 deliveries of our first production vehicle. There’s a lot a work to do between now and then, but that’s our plan.”

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