DETROIT — Robert Bollinger hears the clock ticking on his EV startup.
The founder and CEO of Bollinger Motors sees the smoking-hot market right now for electric trucks and utility vehicles, and he knows that if his boxy, retro-looking electric B1 off-road utility and B2 pickup were in production today, he'd likely sell every one of the $125,000 vehicles he could build.
But he can't build them — yet. There is still a lot of engineering work to do before the trucks will be ready for production. There's the not-so-insignificant matter of lining up financing to pay the bills, and then there's a contract manufacturer to hire.
Now, with two electric pickups — the GMC Hummer EV and Rivian R1T — rolling off assembly lines and the Ford F-150 Lightning coming in the spring, some of Bollinger's first customers have asked for and received refunds of their deposits.
To a consumer, it probably seems like a hundred years ago since the B1 and B2 debuted at the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show. But in automotive industry product development time, Bollinger is moving at normal speed. Recent history shows it takes a long time for a new company to bring a vehicle to market.
Lucid Motors was founded in 2007. Its first vehicles went home with customers in October. Rivian started in 2009 and did not sell a vehicle to a customer until just last month. Bollinger founded his company in 2015.
Life for Bollinger Motors has been a bit tougher. For one thing, the company has not attracted any billion-dollar benefactors and, up to now, has refused to enter into one of those trendy SPAC, or special purpose acquisition company, merger deals, a move that might have filled its bank account but then brought even more pressure to speed the B1 and B2 to market.
And being a low-volume automaker — perhaps a peak of about 3,000 vehicles per year — makes dealing with major suppliers extremely difficult. Those companies are looking to bang out parts in super-high volumes, not make low-volume runs for limited-production vehicles.