At Bollinger Motors things are starting to move faster now.
The suburban Detroit electric vehicle startup said Tuesday that it is in the process of doubling its staff and has opened a new headquarters and engineering center nearly five times larger than its original building.
CEO Robert Bollinger told Automotive News that the last two remaining hurdles — securing the investments to take the B1 utility, B2 pickup and two electric chassis models from concept to production and inking a deal with a contract manufacturer — are close to being resolved.
"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."
Bollinger Motors appears to be in a good position with interest in electric pickups increasing from Wall Street and a growing number of potential customers.
The company moved to the Detroit region from upstate New York nearly two years ago and had been operating out of cramped quarters in Ferndale, about a mile north of Detroit. The COVID-19 situation complicated engineers' jobs because they could not easily maintain a safe distance from each other as product development and engineering work continued, Bollinger said.
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, 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.
Robert Bollinger said his company bought some of Bordrin's technology that deals with how vehicles communicate with each other, and some that involves the battery pack. Bollinger also bought some of the Bordrin's shop equipment. Bollinger said the acquisitions won't necessarily enable the vehicles to come to market sooner, but that the product development process is expected to go more smoothly.
Plans are on track, Bollinger said, to launch the first customer-salable vehicles in late 2021. Bollinger says the plans for marketing the B1 and B2 remain on track: "We've been very honest in that we are going for low volumes and the price point [$125,000] is high. 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."