Class-3 EV startup Bollinger Motors has announced an addition to its future lineup of vehicles – a delivery truck. The cleverly named Deliver-E concept is an all-electric, front-wheel-drive (FWD) medium-duty van that will employ many of the same components used in the company’s other EVs, but based on an entirely new high-strength-steel (HSS) platform engineered from the ground up for the delivery market. The Deliver-E is targeting classes 2B, 3, 4, and 5 (GVWR 8,501-19,500 lb), with U.S. production slated for 2022.
According to Bollinger, the Deliver-E will be available in multiple lengths/wheelbases, offer independent front and rear suspensions and the lowest step-in height in the industry, at just 18 in (46 cm). The new van is expected to provide multiple battery-pack options (70, 105, 140, 175, and 210 kWh), with up to 100-kW DC fast charging via universal charge ports. Bollinger claims that within each class, the Deliver-E will feature a total cost of ownership (TCO) significantly lower than currently available gasoline and diesel options.
“We took our extensive Class-3 electrification knowledge and applied it to the delivery sector,” said Robert Bollinger, CEO of Bollinger Motors. “Our Deliver-E van gives commercial fleets the power to go green and save on ownership costs, while neighborhoods will benefit from a reduction in air and noise pollution.”
The Deliver-E will employ the same major components (motors, battery, inverters, gearboxes) as the rest of the Bollinger Motors lineup, but paired to a new platform created to address the specific needs of delivery vans. The flat cargo floor has minimal wheel-well intrusion to enable maximum cargo space, and the sleek-looking aerodynamic body should help improve efficiency. Bollinger is also claiming the most outward visibility of any cargo van or truck, which could be a boon to safety.
By market request
According to the Oak Park, Michigan startup’s CEO, a delivery van was not part of Bollinger Motors’ original product plan. “The whole delivery space completely came from outside requests,” Bollinger explained. “It was not in the plan from when the company started five years ago. But since we had three different companies come to us who were in the segment, and say, ‘Can you make a delivery van version of that for us?,’ we said, ‘Yes, we can.’ It definitely helps with our whole business plan going forward because there’s economies of scale.”
The concept’s styling is a sleek departure from its current planned lineup of blocky and tough-looking trucks and SUVs. And compared to the brick-like styling of most delivery trucks on the road today, the Deliver-E looks like a Formula 1 support vehicle. “These renderings are what we’re starting to think about as far as it being aerodynamic. It’s kind of the opposite of our truck side – aerodynamic, and a little bit simpler underneath in its complexity.”
According to Erik Hardy, mechanical director at Bollinger Motors, the big advantage was being able to start fresh with the delivery market in mind. “It is a clean sheet, and it starts off using our battery technology that’s already on our B1 and B2 vehicles,” Hardy said. “Depending on what the customer needs, we can just scale it and that’s really easy to accomplish with the straight frame rails that run down the center of the vehicle. For us it’s really just a matter of arranging our battery extrusions down the middle and swapping out for a larger battery pack.”
In terms of the number-one request from the delivery companies, it was having the low step-in height. “The main complaint for most people was actually the step going into the vehicle. Most of these guys could be – plus or minus 50 – 250 deliveries per day. So every step that they take, every second that they have to take another step, turn a handle to open or close a door, it really starts adding up over time. In feedback from the logistics managers, if they can get one or two more stops out of each driver, across the entire country, that’s a big difference for them.”
Dedicated delivery platform
The Bollinger Deliver-E certainly has a leg up on its competition being engineered for a specific task. The van’s platform has been designed to be as low as possible based on 8 in (20 cm) of ground travel, with a 16-in (41-cm) load floor. “It eliminates one step of your traditional UPS or FedEx truck or any other delivery van for walk in,” Hardy explained. “To do that, you have to have a unique rear suspension to go outside the frame rail, which centers the battery pack in the middle, very low to the ground. There won’t be CG [center of gravity] problems of the traditional ICE delivery van.”
A savvy suspension design, Hardy explained, affects frontal area and therefore vehicle range without impacting interior volume, and the Deliver-E is expected to use a rear trailing-arm setup. “It’s important to note that a lot of durability of your traditional walk-in van is actually based on the rear suspension,” Hardy noted. “They’re not generally designed for a Class-3 vehicle. They’re scaled down Class-4, Class-5 suspensions, so they ride extremely rough.”
“Which means that the drivers get beat up. It means that all the structure in the box itself gets beat up,” Hardy continued. “It’s taking all the parameters that we expect to be in a Class-2B to Class-3 segment, and defining what the suspension needs and what the body needs. Which is going to help long-term durability of the vehicle and save money, but also make the drivers want to drive the vehicle.”
Leveraging existing components
An electrified delivery van makes sense as it spends much of its use cycle in low-speed acceleration and deceleration events, where the ample instantaneous torque and regenerative braking can pay the largest dividends. “There’s no second-guessing the performance of the electric motor, especially from that low-speed-torque acceleration,” Hardy noted. “Most of these guys, they’re zero to 30 miles per hour all day long, and the logistics managers are going to enjoy it not being the traditional box van’s 10-second zero-to-30 [mph].”
The Deliver-E will utilize many of the same components destined for Bollinger’s other more off-road-capable models, tied to the bespoke chassis. “It’s a different frame from our B1 and B2 vehicles, but that’s for a very specific reason,” Hardy explained. “Our B1 and B2 have a lot of curvature in them because they have to meet our very tight packaging restraints for the wheelbase. It actually simplifies things a lot for [Deliver-E] production, as it means that the frame rails can be straight.”
“Making a new frame rail is one of the easier parts of the system – it’s just a little different than our B1 and B2 platform – but we use all of the [same] high- and low-voltage electronics,” Hardy said of the goal of maximizing electrified-parts commonality. “But making a running platform – a skateboard per se – is easily accomplished and that’s our full intent. We have to be as cost efficient as we can for the commercial side, so we have to make those decisions early on.”Continue reading »