Call me old-school but I really miss the mechanical brutish appeal that old vehicles carried. When everything was controlled with knobs and buttons, not taps on a touchscreen. That was the time when you could push your vehicle to the limits, without being restricted by a gazillion sensors on the machine itself – pleading you to go easier. Sadly, those kind of machines are at an end now. Primarily because each time you took one of those brutes out, a polar bear died due to the emissions you added.
Of course, electric vehicles then could be an obvious solution? To grant us do-anything appeal and at the same time, ensure that the icebergs stay put. But imagine an electric vehicle and you automatically envision a sleek curvaceous machine that can drive itself and has more screens on the dashboard than an average person has in his house – making them too soft for real life. That is where the Bollinger B1 comes in. It aims to deliver a vehicle that can function as your everyday workhorse – doing everything from carrying stuff to powering your tools. And that is what makes it stand out – and I like it.
One look at the B1 and you know that it is unlike any other mass-market electric vehicle that you have seen before. It has a big, boxy body that is held in place with rivets – all in open exhibition for onlookers. The sides are merely slabs of metal stuck on to the body and the doors too, like the Wrangler are bound to hinges attached to the outside of the body. The car sits about 15 inches off the ground – significantly more than even the Wrangler.
The underpinnings are properly modern, though. The B1 gets an all-aluminium architecture with a high-strength, low-alloy steel rollover structure which weighs just 133 kg without compromising on strength. It gets a self-levelling independent hydro-pneumatic suspension all around which paired with 33 inch tyres sitting on 17 inch rims can help it go anywhere. Even the anti-roll bars can be disconnected for more serious off-road manoeuvres. Or, if you so please, the suspension can be dropped for a better dynamic connect.
The B1 is powered by a motor mounted on each of the axles which make this a full-time four wheel drive system running through lockable differentials on both ends. The combined output stands at 360 BHP and over 641 Nm of torque. The relatively low 1,770 kg kerb weight allow it to hit 96 km/h in just 4.5 seconds before hitting a top speed of 205 km/h. The entire weight is placed down low on the chassis itself and the flab has been distributed efficiently for a perfect 50:50 balance, both in the lateral and longitudinal directions. The car will be available with two battery options – a 60 kWh unit or a 100 kWh pack offering 190 and 320 km of range respectively.
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The interiors, however, are a blast from the past. Designed to be unabashedly rugged, the insides of the B1 feature barely any traditional features. The cabin can seat four people on individual leather-clad captain seats. The meters are all analogue – including a cheeky RPM indicator for the drive motors. The occupants can tune in to a waterproof radio set that gets SD card, flash drives and AUX support but no touchscreens. The windows cannot be turned down at the touch of a button and the air vents give way to pipes with holes, best described as machine-gun barrels. Don’t like the AC? Turn the pipes away from you, simple.
Of course, the primary point of the B1 has to be its utilitarian appeal and the car sure does not disappoint on the practical end. Since the front does not need to house a big burly engine, you get a large storage space under the hood. The rear seats and the roof can be taken off with little more than an allen-key, freeing up more storage space or even converting it into a half cab. The highlight has to be a hatch located at the rear end of the frunk that can be opened up to allow longer objects to pass through. So in case you have to carry your skis along with you, they can simply sit in the frunk, passing between the passengers, rather than dangling off the boot. This allows users to carry things up to 12 feet long without the rear hatch popped open, which by the way liberates another 4 feet of space.
Given that this is an electric vehicle, it is the equivalent of having a large power bank with you, at all times. To use that, the B1 gets neat 100V power outlets at multiple locations across the cabin, allowing you to simply plug in your hardware tool and get to work. Passengers also get convenient 12V outlets and USB ports to charge their cellphones on the go. You even get a built-in winch up front as standard.
Manufacturing of the B1 is still a tricky aspect. Bollinger is presently looking for partners who would fabricate the SUV for them and hopes to settle a deal by early 2018. It will then start accepting bookings with a USD 1,000 cash deposit up front for deliveries that begin 19 months post that date. They are still not sure about the pricing as that could vary once the deal is struck but experts believe that they could hover near the USD 60,000 mark which would mean that this won’t exactly be a cheap vehicle to buy.