Can an electrically-powered bakkie make an impact? Bollinger thinks so.
With Tesla having proven that there is ample demand for electric luxury vehicles, the lure of that potential battery-powered utility market is strong.
Bakkies are popular and with prices surging over the last decade, they also provide a great profit opportunity for manufacturers. Thus far, few have appeared willing to invest and risk with a battery-powered bakkie.
Recognising the immense potential for an electric bakkie, are two start-up vehicle brands: Rivian and Bollinger. Ford has invested a lot of money into Rivian, which is based in California and appears to have a very sophisticated design.
Then there is the alternative: Bollinger, operating from Michigan. It has built a more no-frills electric bakkie. One without airbags, for instance.
The styling of its B2 bakkie is purposefully utilitarian. Aerodynamics are certainly not a primary consideration and Bollinger might be correct in that assumption as these bakkies are set to be marketed as a workhorse and off-road exploration vehicles, not high-speed autobahn cruisers. With an overall design aesthetic that could best be described as ‘charming’, the B2 features some clever industrial engineering details. The bodywork and platform are mostly aluminium, which means it is light and somewhat compensates for the presence of those heavy battery packs.
Powering the B2 bakkie is a huge 120 kWh battery pack, good for 452 kW and 906 Nm. Those outputs are superior to the original prototype bakkies, which featured a 100 kWh battery and had only 230 kW. These Bollinger bakkies are all-wheel drive, with an electric motor driving each axle, and despite a kerb mass of beyond 2 000kg, performance is deeply impressive.
Bollinger has limited top speed to 160 kph, to conserve battery range and not burden the vehicle’s unsophisticated aerodynamic profile, but it will run 0-100kph in 4.5 seconds. Designed to offer tremendous off-road ability, the B2 can be configured with up to 500 mm of ground clearance, double that of most diesel-powered double-cab bakkies, and it has electronically locking differential at both axles.
Despite the huge torque reserves (906 Nm), Bollinger has given its B2 a two-speed gearbox, which differentiates it from most electric vehicles, which only have a single gear. This two-speed design allows for low-range gearing which should make the B2 truly unstoppable off-road. Payload capacity is a massive 2.4t but towing capability is a disappointing 3.4t, which is less than Ford’s new Ranger. Why can’t it tow more, if it has 906Nm? The suspicion is that Bollinger’s aluminium frame isn’t quite rated for the tensile pull strength of going beyond 3.4t of trailered weight.
Bollinger has committed to deliver its B2 double-cab battery bakkie to market by 2021.