A Conversation With Robert Bollinger, Designer of the B1, The First All-Electric Sports Utility Truck.


Visionaries are by nature and nurture complicated beings.  Not only can they see what others can't, they must explain what the vision is and how it will affect the environment around it.  Visionary builders see structures – hotels, homes, villas in their minds before they draw on paper, visionary chefs taste dishes before they are created, visionary artists see what final products will look like before they paint on canvas.  In all cases, it is process, sometimes a trajectory,  but all envision what may be, and not necessarily what should be.

Growing up outside Pittsburgh, Robert Bollinger spent most of his free time drawing cars and dreaming of creating his own car company. But he also wanted to pursue an engineering degree, so he went to Carnegie Mellon University to study Industrial Design.   

Upon graduation, Robert went to New York, and began a career, not in industrial design, but in advertising and marketing. He spent the next ten years as an art and creative director, designing campaigns for HBO, Johnson & Johnson, and Mitsubishi. He also designed an organic hair care line called John Masters Organics.  

But New York, though exciting, did not quench his love of the outdoors. So, Robert moved to the Catskills where he bought a farm and began to raise grass-fed beef. The herd totaled 35 head: a small group, but a lot of work. It was on that farm that Robert realized the need for a better truck – something he couldn’t find on the market. As he believed the need was there, he decided to create the product. 

Robert started Bollinger Motors in 2014. Seeing the need for an all-purpose “tool” for farm, DIY, and off-road, he conceived the Bollinger B1 truck in October 2015. After hiring an experienced team of engineers, the all-electric B1 Sport Utility Truck was created and fabricated from the ground up. The 2-door prototype was unveiled in July 2017. 

The Bollinger team is now working on the 4-door prototype while simultaneously incorporating improvements found while testing the original vehicle. The Bollinger B1 — is now the world’s first all-electric on-and-off-road sport utility truck (SUT.) Bollinger Motors is in the process of relocating to Detroit to bring its all-new, all-electric Sport Utility Truck to market in 2019. 

We spoke with Mr. Bollinger about his vision and mission, and the diverse roads he traveled to come to this place, with this disruptive, eco-sensitive, visionary product.

JustLuxe:  As an entrepreneur, you have gone from designing and implementing an organic skin care line to creating Bollinger Motors. Can you take us through how that evolved?

Mr. Bollinger: It does sound odd that I went from shampoos to cows to electric vehicles. Although there is no direct evolution, I could not imagine trying to start a company like Bollinger Motors without much that learned, especially from John Masters Organics. I started working there on packaging design for John, and ended up helping him run the company.  And since health and beauty aids is such a competitive market, you really had to learn and move quickly.

JustLuxe: You have a degree in Industrial Design from Carnegie Mellon. I have interviewed many successful designers, and many say that they constantly see how designs could be improved/their shortcomings. Is that what led you to founding Bollinger Motors? 

Bollinger: There are two reasons why the B1 exists. I first started Bollinger Motors to fulfill a childhood dream. I was drawing cars a lot as a little kid and for some reason thought that the cars were my own future company's cars. So I drew logos with my name on it from the very beginning, too. To be able to circle back to that dream after a lot of other careers and business adventures, is such a blessing. 

The actual B1 idea did come out of my wanting to make something that I couldn't find on the market. So yes, that was completely based on taking today's truck and making it a million times better. Trucks have not evolved for decades. They simply got more luxurious. The B1 is based on putting everything into a truck that is necessary and making it really good at it. It's simply the truck I would want to buy. 


JustLuxe: Take us through the styling of the Bollinger B1 EV truck.

Bollinger: From the very beginning of the project I wanted every design decision for the truck to come from a need. I didn't want to have to make a choice. There had to be a reason it bent here or ended there or that thing was here instead of there. And throughout the process, there were actual choices, but I wanted to make all design decisions based on engineering needs rather than just what my eye liked.  Also, outside of practicality, I love simplicity. My favorite part of the B1 is the dash. One flat plane. Nothing else is needed. 

JustLuxe: What is the most challenging issue you have found designing and producing the B1?

Bollinger: The most challenging issue in designing the B1 was staying true to one vision. I discovered just how difficult it is to design something this complex and keep to a vision of simplicity. And to design a vehicle that goes against everything being built now, and keep from falling into what others expect in an electric car. I second-guessed myself many times but every time I came back to that one singular vision I had at the beginning: keep it simple. 

JustLuxe:  Where do you see Bollinger Motors in five years?

Five years is not that far away. We have a lot to do to get to production. I see the B1 and the B2 (future model) in production and our team continuing to create new and exciting vehicles that no one has thought of before. I hope to stay a small, nimble company that doesn't get bogged down by expectations or money or the industry weighing in too much. Bollinger Motors will hopefully always be an outsider.


Twitter: (@bollingermotors)




Bollinger B1 -- back


Interior, Bollinger B1


Robert Bollinger in work area


Robert Bollinger

Susan Kime

Susan Kime's career combines publishing, journalism and editing. She was the Destination Club/Fractional Update Editor for Elite Traveler, and senior club news correspondent for The Robb Report's Vacation Homes. Her work has been published in Stratos, Luxury Living, European CEO, The London Telegraph, Caviar Affair, ARDA Developments, and Luxist/AOL. She was the Editor-in-Chief of Travel Conno...(Read More)

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