Why EV startup, Bollinger is focusing on high-end customers

(Yahoo Finance) – Bollinger Motors Founder & CEO Robert Bollinger sat down with me to break down the company’s upcoming electric vehicles, the EV space, and whether a SPAC IPO is in the cards. The following is a transcript of the interview:

PRAS SUBRAMANIAN: Robert, you guys are ramping up here to get that B1 and B2 out on the road. What’s that going to take? What do you guys need to do in order to hit that, I think it’s 2021 timeline?

ROBERT BOLLINGER: Right. We have a lot to do. We are building soon our DV, our design verification vehicles, and those will be the ones that go out for testing. So we have a whole year plus of testing. Battery testing and component testing, full vehicle testing. So that’s a big part of our future plans, immediate plans, ABS testing, so it’s really verifying everything that we’ve been working on and engineering and building up to date.

PRAS SUBRAMANIAN: A lot of companies are using strategic partners to sort of help them build these cars, and I know that you guys are a startup. You may not have the massive factory and the robots to do that.


PRAS SUBRAMANIAN: So are you guys going to leverage a good third party or OEM type partner for this kind of thing?

ROBERT BOLLINGER: Yes. All of our manufacturing will be with third party manufacturers. And we hope to announce that very soon. So we have them that we’re discussing many things. We have a factory layout, the whole thing at their spot. So it’s a perfect setup for us. We found the perfect partner for that. We just need to announce it. We’re going to do that pretty soon. And that’s both for the consumer side and the possible future commercial side of everything that we’re going to do. And have them announcing that the delivery van and all of that. So that will all be through third party manufacturing.

PRAS SUBRAMANIAN: Right. So the B1 SUV, the B2 pickup, plus the delivery van, the commercial applications you guys are doing. A lot of it’s going to take some money, right, and investment. How are you planning to fund that? Is it going to be through traditional things, like selling equity stakes? Or even more what’s been the du jour thing today, which is a SPAC IPO?

ROBERT BOLLINGER: Right, right. Yeah, I’ve been funding it since day one. I’ve been funding it for five years. And now with that hockey stick future spend that’s imminent, is obviously bringing on investors. So we’ve brought him one investor already. We’re closing another round this month. And we definitely have had a lot of SPAC interest, so we’ve talked to a number of them this year. And just to jump right into, is basically we thought it wasn’t quite the right time for us. We want to get some more of these strategic alliances set up and announced and kind of have the fuller picture.

Because once you do make that announcement, if you do go SPAC, everything’s out there on the table. So we just kind of wanted to line up our ducks a little bit more before, if we do that. So it’s, all of the above is an option. We’re an automotive company that wants to build our own vehicles, even with third party. And of course, that requires a lot of money, so we’re looking to all the above.

PRAS SUBRAMANIAN: Right. I mean, probably good to leave your options open. But I wanted to hit on something you mentioned and something we can talk about it is, you guys are doing the reverse Nikola in a sense. You guys are actually wanting to, you have a product that’s already, you actually built a prototype. You want to line up your partners to build it first, and then potentially it’s the SPAC or whatever. Is that about right?

ROBERT BOLLINGER: Yep, yeah, that’s about right. And we’ve been at this, we just turned a little over five years old a few months ago. So we’ve done a lot in that five years. And a lot of that, of course, was the engineering of the trucks and working with tier 1 vendors and getting the right engineering firms to help us from the outside, because you can’t do it alone. You need all that support. So really just everything has come together perfectly for us, especially since we moved to Detroit a couple of years ago.

And so right now, we’re just at a really perfect spot of how everything on the truck side is coming together. And again, a lot of the commercial aspects to that, including the chassis cab that we announced. And so really just everything’s perfect now for how do we go forward. Is it through a SPAC or not? So yeah, hopefully, have announcement like that soon about our investment.

PRAS SUBRAMANIAN: The other big competitor looming in the background for you guys is Tesla, of course, with their Cybertruck.


PRAS SUBRAMANIAN: Which is another year or two down the line. How do you compete with that? I know you guys are also talking about your own battery technology too].

ROBERT BOLLINGER: Right. Yeah, we just had the press release for our battery patent that we filed last Tuesday, I believe it is. What’s great about our trucks and what we purposely did from day one, was back in 2015, when we were first thinking about this, was wanted to not compete against future electric vehicles. So i knew there’d be a day when there’d be electric F-150, I knew there’d be a Tesla pickup truck one day. Back then, no one had heard of Rivian yet really, in a way.

So it was really just, how do we compete against that future world? And also, how do we compete against gas and diesel trucks? And so what we did from day one is, first we started out as class 3 right away. So we’re the only all-electric class 3 truck being made. So that means our pickup trucks and our SUVs can hold 4,000 to 5,000 pounds and all this other stuff. So that, plus our pass-through, which allows the storage, and we have a patent on that. The 15-inch ground clearance, the adjustable suspension that can go up to 20-inch, we purposely did all this stuff on the truck so that it had no direct competition.

So you take any of our specs and put him up against anyone, electric, gas or diesel, we’re better. And so that was the point. And also, when you put all that stuff into it, you end up making a pretty expensive vehicle to make. So that’s reflected in our price tag. And so we’re basically, we have our own world that we own and we’re the only ones doing it. So if you need a truck that has our capability, we’re the only ones making it.

And so on purpose I would like to say as the founder, we have no competition. It’s easy for me to say that, but we really have engineered that into the trucks, that it’s unlike anything else that’s out there and it stands on its own. So we’re very proud of that. And we had to do that in order to survive. If we were, if we took stuff out of it to make it, let’s say, less expensive to make, we’d have a mediocre truck, and there’s plenty of mediocre trucks out there already. So we don’t want to be one of them.


Pras Subramanian is a reporter for Yahoo Finance.