Bollinger is still a privately financed company as 2021 closes. However, when I visited the company in suburban Detroit last week, Robert Bollinger hinted that that and other things could change in the new year.
“When we were looking into SPACs last summer, we realized it was way too early for that,” Bollinger told me. “We’ve built the next round of prototypes since then. And we’ve developed so much more on the commercial side, under the radar.” Now, he says, “A SPAC and an IPO is never off the table.”
Last week Bollinger took a major step in the pivot from startup to revenue-generating company with the announcement that its commercial Chass-E electric chassis will be available to one of the nation’s largest upfitters. Bollinger is working with EAVX, a unit of JB Poindexter, to ensure that the Chass-E is compatible for a variety of fleet vehicles that one of Poindexter’s upfitters could use.
A revenue stream from commercial sales has been viewed as a major advantage for Rivian, which is building 100,000 electric delivery vans for Amazon. Such a deal could help Bollinger as well.
Last week, during a visit to Bollinger’s engineering center, three engineers were seen pushing a partially assembled B1 from one bay to another. It’s a more production-intent version than the engineering mules the company has developed, Bollinger told me.
While engineers toil away getting the B1 ready for production, Bollinger has been making progress on other fronts. The company, Bollinger said, has letters of intent with a number of dealership groups and will have nationwide distribution when output begins.
Bollinger also said the company expects to end its quiet period in the first quarter of 2022 with manufacturing and financing news that will show a path to production.
But that path can and likely will have some unexpected detours. During a recent drive in a Rivian R1T, a company official pointed to a chrome accent trim piece on the steering wheel. “That cost us three weeks,” he said, explaining that the original supplier went out of business. It took Rivian almost a month to find a new company to make the replacement part, he said, and to ensure that quality and fit met the company’s specifications and standards.
Bollinger says his electric, four-wheel-drive truck remains the only Class 3, or medium-duty, EV and that he’s not worried about competitors.
“Even if you have a Ford F-150 electric for your day-to-day driver,” he said, “our vehicle might still be your crazy-ass toy that you play with on weekends.”