New York Startup to Build Electric Trucks, and Why GM Should Buy Them
Back when I first started writing about electric vehicles, one question has always nagged at me: Why aren’t more people making electric trucks? Electric drive units can have fantastic torque, delivered the moment you step on the “gas” pedal (although that is a bit of a misnomer—the “go” pedal, maybe?), which you would think would be great for work vehicles.
The answer, of course, was that if you wanted any sort of good range, you had to shell out Model S levels of money for a great, honking battery pack.
However, now batteries are not nearly as huge thanks to new technology developments, and not nearly as expensive thanks to more and more people making them to meet heightened demand.
All in all, it seems that the time is right for an electric truck to hit the dirt road.
Enter Bollinger Motors. Based in upstate New York, this company is developing its first vehicle: an all-electric sport utility truck for off-road use, riding on a specially-made 295-pound aluminum frame with a high-strength low-alloy steel rollover structure.
The unnamed off-roader is expected to deliver at least 15.5 inches of ground clearance with 10 inches of wheel travel, along with a self-leveling hydraulic suspension and disconnectable anti-roll bars. Like the Chevy Bolt, the Bollinger truck will put its battery below the floor under the passengers, which opens up more passenger space and lowers the vehicle’s center of gravity, creating a more stable off-roader—if you have ever seen the “If you can read this, flip me over!” bumper sticker on someone’s Wrangler, you know that top-heaviness has been a problem for trucks and off-road vehicles.
Unfortunately, Bollinger has not yet released any range numbers, but it has promised that the truck will have its debut on July 27th, and has released a few teaser photos (particularly of one cardboard model), which point to a vehicle that looks close to a Jeep Wrangler or Land Rover.
Honestly, I would encourage one of the major automakers, particularly General Motors, to have a look and possibly snatch this truck up (if it is as good as Bollinger says it will be, of course).
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I realize that this may rub some at GM the wrong way, particularly due to one of the golden rules, “Thou shalt not mess with the Silverado market share,” but right now, Chevrolet is one of the front-runners in offering serious, worthwhile electric vehicles, as its Volt still offers the best all-electric range (and, coincidentally, is the best-selling plug-in hybrid in the market), and the Bolt is being rolled out nationwide at a mass-market price with a decent electric range.
This would compete in an entirely different market from the Bolt and Volt, though, as electric or plug-in hybrid SUVs and trucks are all but nonexistent in the US right now—there are currently 5 plug-in SUVs out there, all of which cost more than $62,000 at the base, and with the exception of the Model X are all plug-in hybrids with fewer than 15 miles of range.
If GM could produce (or in this case, buy) a capable, electric truck/SUV, that would allow them to undercut their competitors in the green game (especially Tesla), as well as get a foot in the door on the off-road vehicle market, as currently GM’s only off-road-oriented model is the Colorado ZR2.
Plus, I think that an off-road electric truck would be rad, and GM would have the economies of scale to make that happen at a price that people could actually afford. Besides, even Jeep is making movements in this direction, and it seems pretty clear that CEO Sergio Marchionne really dislikes electrics.