From Tesla stockholder to startup CEO: How Robert Bollinger is bringing utility to the EV market



On a rather chilly morning a few days before Christmas, Bollinger Motors CEO Robert Bollinger cried my petition for a quick interview about his longtime service for electrical vehicles. Discussing through FaceTime, Robert animatedly talked about Bollinger Motors’ highly expected Sports Utility Truck, his thoughts concerning other EV makers targeting the trucking segment, and even his adventures as a Tesla shareholder.

Robert Bollinger graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a degree in Industrial Design. After working for a series of advertising agencies, he began a 15-year stint at John Masters Organics, at which he served as COO and CMO. Later on, Robert co-started a grass-fed cows farm, and while working in the fields, he saw the need for a better truck — one which isn’t being produced by the world’s greatest carmakers.

Years before he began Bollinger Motors in 2014, Robert Bollinger found himself very impressed by a little startup electric vehicle company from Silicon Valley. Having had a soft spot for EVs for decades, his focus was immediately piqued by the launch of the first Tesla Roadster along with the Model S Condo. That said, his work on the fields meant a vehicle or a sports car did not really fit his needs. Nevertheless, he chose to encourage Tesla, only in another manner.

“When Tesla first came out, if they had the Roadster and Model S, I had been expecting to purchase one. I didn’t have a vehicle — I had my truck. (The Roadster along with the Model S) never really fit my specific needs, however I bought (TSLA) stock shortly after they went public. Through the years, I only kept buying,” he explained.

Being a shareholder of Tesla, Robert is too knowledgeable about the activities of the company’therefore critics, especially the ones of short-sellers. When asked how he handled the flow of negativity always being pitched towards Tesla, Robert simply commented that he “only kept buying. ” Against the sound from the company’s most passionate naysayers, “I only kept riding up it,” he explained.

Robert Bollinger and his staff with their very first vehicle, the B1 Sports Utility Truck. (Photo: Bollinger Motors)

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Having a first mover like Tesla interrupting the automotive industry together with all the Model S, Robert decided in 2014 to begin his electrical car startup. Running under the title Bollinger Motors, the startup chose to make a car that is designed and constructed around utility. It could be, in a lot of ways, the truck which Robert always wanted when functioning at the fields. It’d be rough, it could function in tough terrain, and first and foremost, it might be all-electric.

“I always thought in electrical. If you would like to begin a startup now, it has to be electrical. ”

The consequence of Robert and his little staff ’s function is the Bollinger B1, a car that the company dubs as a “Sport Utility Truck. ” The B1 is arguably the most utility-focused EV that has been introduced so far, with its Land Rover Defender-esque panels, even its 33-inch tires, also its 15-inch floor clearance. The interior of the B1 echoes the plan of classic utility vehicles too, with analog indicators dominating the dash. The company is also planning that the B2, a pickup truck that plans to unveil in the not too distant future. Overall, Robert notes the B1 and B2 are created to push the envelope on utility vehicles, especially as SUVs and trucks nowadays are largely focusing on factors such as luxury and relaxation.

“Compared to sedans, SUVs and pickup trucks, they harbor ’t really evolved much. They get more luxurious, but they get drastically more competent. For instance, their floor clearance generally has not improved. It’therefore not until you move drastic such as going electrical that you see how much you’re able to perform,” Robert said.

While the B1 has brought a notable amount of interest since it was introduced earlier this season (there are currently around 28,000 reservations for the vehicle), additional electrical car organizations are nearing the pickup truck market also. Fellow EV startup Rivian, for one, recently published that the R1T pickup truck along with the R1S SUV, and Elon Musk has mentioned on Twitter he is “dying to create ” Tesla’s pickup truck. Musk even noticed that a version of the upcoming vehicle might be issued as early as a year ago.

The Bollinger B1 was created from the ground up as a utility car.  (Photo: Bollinger Motors)

Despite the development of pickup trucks and SUVs from bigger, more established rivals, the Bollinger Motors CEO said that he believes that the market will be big enough for everyone. Despite legacy carmakers altering their trucks to hybrids or all-electric vehicles, Robert considers that there will be consumers whose needs will be fulfilled absolutely by the B1 and the B2. In this light, the EV enthusiast notes he welcomes the arrival of more electric and toaster trucks.

“At some stage, there will be electrical jeeps. There’ll be electrical trucks from many carmakers. If we’re establishing our own variant of the vehicle, we’ve got our own DNA; we’ve got our own setup and specs. A great deal of the legacy companies, when they finally come towards electrical, they’re gonna have EV variations of what they have now. The very first hybrid F-150 will have the present architecture.

“Rivian’s tremendously different than individuals. It’s even much more mainstream, more luxury — and ’s pretty great. That’s their market, however it’s not only ours. I’m sure if Tesla comes out with their pickup truck, it’ll be great. But we’re still going to differ. I’m only happy there are far more electrical automobiles. I blame them for doing a terrific job, and I think that we’re able to co-exist very well. ”

Among those influences is in the manner Bollinger is going about the manufacturing of the B1 and the B2. Tesla, for one, is growing and generating much of their vehicles’ parts in-house. This, in accordance with Robert, is tactical for Tesla considering the company’s size. For a far smaller startup like Bollinger, however, Robert noticed that another approach was required.

“Tesla and everybody else is going about things differently than people now are. They raised hundreds of millions of dollars to obtain what they need. Whereas, we’re more coming from the angle of hand-built, little group, very low overhead. We’re growing from the handmade side of things in the event you will. We’re developing more organically, growing because we need to grow. We’re at a little space for prototyping right now since ’s exactly what we need,” he explained.

The Bollinger B1 echoes the design components of classic off-road vehicles like the Land Rover Defender.  (Photo: Bollinger Motors)

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So far, Bollinger has moved to a bigger headquarters in Detroit. Robert notes that this was a tactical decision because it allows the business to be close to vendors and a wholesome talent pool. The B1 is also being refined as the firm prepares to begin producing the automobile. When asked when he thinks Bollinger will experience its variant of “generation hell” when it starts manufacturing the B1, Robert candidly commented that he is saving all the hell for 2019, when things will probably go really mad.

With his background as a longtime EV supporter and TSLA shareholder, I asked Robert if he chose to use any one of Tesla’so called open-sourced patents if Bollinger Motors was growing the B1. The CEO notes they didn’t locate a need to tap Tesla’s patents because Bollinger isn’t producing its own electrical motors or motors. Because of the company’s dimensions, Robert notes that he and his staff aren’t attempting to reinvent all of the elements of electrical vehicles. Instead, it’s more preferable to the company to rely on partnerships with vendors instead, especially because there’s much less overhead.

Nevertheless the Bollinger B1 and Bollinger B2 have similarities with Tesla’s Model 3 in relation to battery technologies. Robert commented that he and his team talked with approximately five battery suppliers to assess and test which types of cells will be best for the B1 and B2. After a long list that contained pouch cells along with prismatic cells from many manufacturers, Robert noticed that they finally decided to settle on 2170 cells.

“Long collection of battery situations, the 2170 cell just rose to the very best. It only gave the most energy density,” he explained.

The Bollinger B1 in its natural habitat.  (Photo: Bollinger Motors)

Just like Tesla’s electrical automobiles, the majority of the Bollinger B1 and B2’therefore parts are locally created. Robert admits there are critical components for his electrical vehicles which are created everywhere, but Bollinger is trying to have them licensed for manufacturing from the United States. Once produced, Bollinger aims to attract its automobiles to customers across the planet. Robert noted an RHD version of the B1 and B2 could be made without much complexity too, as a result of the vehicles’ straightforward design.

The Bollinger B1 and B2 are equipped with both a J1772 plus a CCS port. Back in August, rather than long after Elon Musk mentioned that Tesla isn’t restricting other EV makers from obtaining its charging infrastructure, Robert posted a tweet to Elon Musk, inquiring if Bollinger’s automobiles may use the Supercharger Network. The CEO noted he didn’t really expect a response because he inquired through social networking, but as the B1 and B2 close in on production, there is a fantastic chance he could request Elon Musk for Supercharger accessibility once again.

“I only asked them through a tweet, so I didn’t really expect a response. But as we finalize more things, we could come back to that. But we got so lots of men and women, Tesla lovers, who were also rooting for us. I love that,” he explained.

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