UNAPOLOGETICALLY BOXY, EXTREMELY CAPABLE
Electric Bollinger B1 and B2 Pickup revealed B1 and B2 promise 4.5-second sprints to 60 mph, 5,000-pound payload capacity -- and yes, they can handle water.
It’s been four years since Bollinger Motors announced its intention to build ultra-rugged, seriously capable off-road trucks that just so happened to be electric. Last night, we got our first look at the trucks that will lead the company’s charge into production: the four-door B1 SUV and the B2 pickup. At first glance, these two trucks look very similar to the concept B1, other than two extra doors (removable, as are the roof panels) and the B2’s pickup bed. Indeed, production versions retain the general look, feel and attitude of the concept/prototype (imagine that!), though engineers say they’ve benefited from a series of tweaks and improvements large and small -- not surprising, given the rapidly evolving state of EV tech. They've also picked up a number of details and touches belied by the simple, boxy overall looks. For example: The raised strips running the length of the trucks' cargo load areas, as well as the interior door pulls are made of wood salvaged from old church pews. Dashboard air vents are long, perforated cylinders that resemble nothing so much as machine gun barrel shrouds. It's almost anti-design, in a cool way.
Output remains impressive: Bollinger claims 614 hp and 668 lb-ft. Top speed is 100 mph; getting to 60 mph takes just 4.5 seconds. So, not quite a Taycan, but still stunning considering the sheer size of these things; they are, after all, considered class 3 trucks thanks to their 10,000-pound gross vehicle weight (curb weight for the B1 and B2 is a stated 4,800 and 5,000 pounds, respectively). There’s a 120-kWh battery crammed in between the wheels, giving both trucks a 200-mile estimated range. On a level 3 DC fast charger, you’ll be able to top it up in 75 minutes. 220V level 2 charging takes 10 hours. Rapidly developing battery technology is actually one of the reasons Bollinger is leading its production push with four-door trucks -- for now, it’s easier to cram a battery providing acceptable range into a larger vehicle. At each corner is a geared portal axle hub, helping the trucks achieve 15 inches of ground clearance. The suspension is self-leveling, so the truck will ride right even if you push the stated 5,000 pounds of payload capacity to the test. The trucks will also tow 7,000 pounds.
And yes, these trucks can handle water. In fact, Bollinger chief engineer Karl Hacken told us it’s the accessories in the dashboard, like the gauges and radio, that prevent the trucks from operating submerged. Plus, the need for that pesky driver to breathe. As in, you should be able to ford 3 feet of water with no problems.
While the trucks share common mechanical components, and both have a massive presence when you actually get up close to them, the B2 is longer. The B1 rides on a 118.8-inch wheelbase with a 171.5-inch overall length. The B2 gets a 139-inch wheelbase with a 207.5-inch length. Each truck is 77.2 inches wide (89 inches if you count the mirrors).
The B2’s extra length buys a 5 foot, 9-inch bed in the back. But that bed grows to 8 foot, 2 inches if you open the rear cab wall and remove the rear seats. Both trucks get Bollinger’s novel pass-through system, which opens up a tunnel from the rear of the truck clear through the front. Just in case you need to carry telephone poles, or whatever.
At the reveal, Bollinger Motors founder Robert Bollinger said he wanted to keep the evening focused on the trucks -- which means we’re still waiting to hear details like pricing, availability and the location of the company’s dedicated manufacturing facility (we still expect it to be in Detroit or at least the Detroit area). And of course, when we get a test drive lined up, you’ll be the first to know.
U.S. AUTO INDUSTRY BRACES FOR POOR SEPTEMBER SALES RESULTS
In a joint forecast, J.D. Power and LMC Automotive said on Sept. 27 they expect September auto sales of about 1.2 million, down about 13% from a year ago. Separately, Cox Automotive made a similar forecast predicting U.S. auto sales would be down 14%. That would be much slower than auto sales year to date. Cox Automotive estimated U.S. auto sales year to date through September would be down just 1.6%.
DEALERS LEAN ON USED CARS, COST CUTS, DATA
Declining new-vehicle margins and steep stair-step programs, coupled with higher expenses such as floorplan costs, have challenged dealers' profitability. To compensate, some dealers say they have placed increased emphasis on used-vehicle sales and cost-cutting initiatives and use data and metrics to identify opportunities and hold employees accountable for results. Using data, dealers can realize savings and boost profits by changing advertising approaches, generally the largest expense after staffing and facilities, or turning over inventory more quickly.
Source: Automotive News
BATTERY MATERIALS RUNNING SHORT
Global producers of electric cars have big ambitions and a bigger problem: Supplies of a key material are running short. Nickel sulfate is a brilliantly colored crystalline substance used in electric-vehicle batteries. The ore most commonly used to produce it is mined in only a handful of places—and they include some of the most politically or operationally challenging, such as Russia or Canada’s frozen Northeast.
Source: The Wall Street Journal
TESLA OWNERS POST VIDEOS
Featuring accidents, near misses while using new Smart Summon feature.
Since Tesla began rolling out its Smart Summon feature last week as part of its V10 software update, some videos posted to social media show the company's vehicles involved in accidents or near misses while using the feature. Using Smart Summon, a Tesla owner can direct a vehicle to drive itself to the owner's location based on a smartphone's GPS or to another location.
One owner's Model 3 was struck by a car backing out of a parking spot and sustained front bumper damage. The owner shared video on Twitter of the incident, one from the dashboard of the Model 3 and one from his phone.
Smart Summon is included in Tesla's Full Self-Driving Capability or Enhanced Autopilot systems, the company said in a press release about the software update.
Smart Summon drew criticism from an influential traffic safety advocate. "Tesla's continued use of the intentionally misleading and factually inaccurate term 'full self-driving' speaks to the company's only concern: keeping their brand in the news and staying ahead of their next quarterly earnings report," Jason Levine, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, said in an emailed statement to Automotive News.
AUTOMAKERS RESORT TO $4,100 DISCOUNTS TO CLEAR OLD INVENTORY
Retail sales were likely flat during the three-month period, according to researchers J.D. Power and LMC Automotive, but average incentive spending rose an estimated 6% to more than $4,100 per vehicle, a third-quarter record. Old model-year vehicles accounted for 90% of quarterly sales, the slowest sell-down on record.
VW DRIVERS MAY STRUGGLE TO WIN DAMAGES AS COURT QUERIES LOSSES
The 470,000 diesel-car owners who signed up for a case against Volkswagen AG may face an uphill struggle after a German court questioned whether they really lost anything because of the emission-cheating software in their automobiles. Drivers have been able to use their cars, leaving “the central issue” of what they actually lost, Presiding Judge Michael Neef said Monday, the first day of hearings. The court will also review whether any loss in value was solely linked to vehicle bans that came only two years after the diesel scandal broke. Even if the court finds damages, claims may be lowered because of drivers’ continued use of their cars over time, he said.