Rugged efficiency: The Bollinger B1

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Enjoy the ruggedness of a Land Rover Defender or Jeep Wrangler, but want something far more efficient and designed with just a pencil and ruler?

New York-based Bollinger Motors has claimed it has developed the world’s first electric off-roading SUT (sport utility truck), the rather utilitarian all-wheel drive Bollinger B1. It certainly sounds like a nifty vehicle – 0-100km/h in 4.5 seconds, top speed of 204km/h, 360hp on tap, and 639Nm torque. The onboard batteries offer a range of up to 321km, depending on whether you opt for the 60 or 100 kWh version, with charging times of seven and 12 hours respectively.

Believed to cost around €50,000, the B1 prototype is the brainchild of a team led by Robert Bollinger, a former ad exec-turned skincare entrepreneur who bought a cattle farm in upstate New York and then decided he’d investigate the electric vehicle market. Built inside a nondescript garage in the Catskills, the B1 is a spartan beast – the only digital addition displays temperature, range and mileage; the windows are opened via a lever, and even the battery level indicator is analogue.

“The idea is that it’s all hands-on. You want to go do something with your own two hands, this is the vehicle. It’s the opposite of where things are going with electric, where the screen will tell you everything, and [it’s] autonomous. That’s all great, but it’s just not our thing,” Bollinger told The Verge recently.

There’s quite a lot of functionality too – you can convert from a full to half cab, remove the rear seats, carry a payload of and tow up to 2,700kg and, thanks to the absence of an engine and the hidden electric powertrain, transport long lengths of wood, piping, skis or anything else you want via a channel right down the middle and a pass-through door at the front. The dashboard is home to several USB and 12-volt outlets, with quite a few 110-volt plugs throughout the interior from which you can power your tools or camping equipment.

And it seems like it’ll be a proper off-roader. Quite nimble on tough ground with a rugged chassis, there’s 39cm of ground clearance, the wheels can be raised or lowered by almost 13cm, there’s a low centre of gravity with 50-50 weight distribution, hydraulic power steering, and approach and departure angles of 56 and 53 degrees. Much more capable than the Wrangler.

Power is delivered to all four wheels via motors mounted on the front and rear axles. Regenerative braking helping to charge the batteries, which are sealed and designed to withstand water levels of up to 1m for about 30 minutes, while you can hose down the interior after a particularly muddy day of off-roading.

If everything goes to plan, production should begin by 2019. Presuming that Bollinger can find a manufacturing partner and bring the B1 to market, you would hope a few changes would be made. The styling wouldn’t suffer with just a few tweaks but, more importantly, more range and better charging times would be a vast improvement, particularly when you’re shelling out that much money.

Perhaps Tesla could lend a hand.


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