By on August 19, 2020

Electric vehicle startup Bollinger announced plans to double its staff on Tuesday and has opened a new headquarters substantially larger than its original building. While its previous move took the company from New York to Michigan, its latest relocation keeps it within metropolitan Detroit — specifically Oak Park, which is roughly four miles away from the old Ferndale facility.

The change is supposed to help ready the business for its upcoming B1 utility and B2 pickup, which will need additional investments to get off the ground, as well as help secure deal with a contract manufacturer. EV companies seem to have no trouble attracting investors, despite most of them looking like carbon copies of each other. All you need is an electric platform that can be shared across numerous nameplates with the least imaginative alphanumeric names imaginable and Wall Street seems happy enough.

We imagine the situation looked much the same when automobiles were still dependent on lamplight. Back then, there was a similar rush to form a company and deliver cookie-cutter designs to whoever was ready to replace the horse and carriage as their chief mode of transport. Even though electric vehicles have been around for ages, this is the first time they’ve garnered serious attention (and been competitive) in almost a century, making the gold rush mentality a little easier to understand.

CEO Robert Bollinger told Automotive News that the brand will tie up the remaining lose ends in order to focus on how to manufacture the B1/B2. “We’re about to announce our third-party manufacturer soon,” he said. “We’ll announce our battery supplier soon and things on the investment front are good. We hope to make an announcement there soon as well. Everything keeps inching forward.”

“Soon” is an extremely relative term, but Bollinger seems to be making decent progress. However, the new facility should be a reminder that nothing is assured for automotive startups — as its previous occupant happened to be a failed EV company.

From Automotive News:

The company’s new headquarters and engineering center is in Oak Park, four miles north of the old facility, and was until June occupied by Bordrin New Energy Vehicle Corp., a Chinese startup that failed to launch. Bordrin planned to produce an electric SUV and a sedan, but a combination of COVID-19, trade tensions, a consolidation of Chinese manufacturers and a lack of funds ended the project after five years.

In June, as Bordrin was liquidating, its North American president, Jerry Lavine, called Robert Bollinger and suggested he come and look at Bordrin’s facility, the equipment that was being auctioned and the company’s proprietary engineering technology. It might, Lavine thought, help Bollinger bring the company’s vehicles to market faster and for less money.

And then a funny thing happened: Bollinger hired Lavine, who went from being president of Bordrin to chief engineer of Bollinger Motors. Lavine, a former Ford engineer, is one of 40 new hires Bollinger plans bring on board in the next 120 days.

It also purchased some of the communications and battery technology from Bordrin as it went under. Additionally, some of Bordrin’s shop equipment ended up being baked into the building sale. However, Bollinger was keen to note that the tooling wasn’t necessary to adhere to its production deadlines and that the leftover hardware was just too good a deal to pass up.

The company’s first car is scheduled to launch late in 2021, Bollinger’s CEO indicated it doesn’t see that as being a problem, though the company’s low-volume targets do make things a bit easier. Wisely, the brand is not focusing on achieving market dominance out of the gate. It’s bent on building rugged utilitarian electric vehicles that can be beat on endlessly and used for work purposes — though the high price tag makes us think the first batch will undoubtedly become rolling status symbols on Rodeo Drive.

“We’ve been very honest in that we are going for low volumes and the price point [$125,000] is high,” Bollinger  said. “I’d rather make hundreds to thousands of vehicles and succeed than say we are going to have to make 100,000 vehicles before we are profitable.”

[Image: Bollinger]


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4 Comments on “Bollinger Gets New Headquarters, Hiring Push Presumed to Follow...”

  • avatar

    Hard to see what the sweet spot is for them to sell a “basic” $125k e-truck.

    I agree that if it actually rolls off the production line it will be the 2021 version of the H1 Hummer, a rolling “caring macho” symbol. On the other hand if they plug-in [sorry] to the latest in battery technology and can offer, say a 300 mile range it would appeal to contractors and local governments.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “We’ve been very honest in that we are going for low volumes and the price point [$125,000] is high,” Bollinger said. “I’d rather make hundreds to thousands of vehicles and succeed than say we are going to have to make 100,000 vehicles before we are profitable.”

    Hmm. A while ago, Tesla was selling Roadsters and Model S/X with similar prices and volumes, and losing money like crazy. They have the lowest battery costs in the industry, yet they had to reach high volume with the Model 3 to squeak out some profit.

    It sounds noble to say Bollinger wants to walk before they run, but I don’t believe their break-even point is with low volume. Smart investors should be asking about the break-even plan.

  • avatar

    Will the B2 be low observable?

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