New York auto show: Bollinger Motors snags Con Edison EV contract, displays Class 3 truck

Posted by Talbot Payne on April 15, 2022

New York — Electric-vehicle startups are everywhere at the New York International Auto Show.

While VinFast, INDI EV, and Deus showed off new consumer vehicles, Oak Park-based Bollinger Motors announced it will build Class 3 trucks for New York’s Con Edison and showcased a prototype at the utility’s show display.

Bollinger shifted its business focus in January from consumer to commercial vehicles as large corporations seek to buttress their Environmental, Social Governance (ESG) goals by buying EVs for their fleets.

Bollinger will produce a Class 3 truck for New York utility Con Edison.

“We are committed to providing revolutionary, all-electric vehicles for fleet customers,” said Bollinger CEO Robert Bollinger, who founded the company in upstate New York in 2015 before moving to Metro Detroit. “I look forward to supporting innovative companies like New York Con Edison and growing our relationship with them as they seek to lead by example in pursuit of their sustainability objectives.”

Con Edison’s so-called Clean Energy Commitment plans an all-EV light-duty fleet by 2035. Bollinger Motors is key to that strategy with a Class 3 prototype based on a rugged, battery skateboard platform. A black prototype service vehicle is on display at the New York show through April 24. The utility plans to integrate similar vehicles into its Classes 3-6 fleet by 2024.

“Our all-electric platforms and chassis cabs offer a wide variety of commercial applications that are highly adaptable to the specific use cases and duty cycles that today’s commercial fleets require,” added Bollinger chief of commercial sales Frank Jenkins.

The Michigan-based startup’s announcement is the first significant commercial news after its January decision to cancel consumer orders for its distinctive, $125,000 B1 SUV and B2 pickup EVs. Bollinger had intended, like Ford and its F-150 Lightning EV, to pursue both personal and commercial applications. But for a startup like Bollinger, volume — and cash flow — are strongest in the commercial sector.

“We’ve been in development on the commercial front for quite some time. This has been growing and growing,” Bollinger told The News in January. “We’ve had large fleets looking at (our battery-powered platform). We just read the writing on the wall.”

Bollinger’s rear-drive battery platform — with good low-end torque and loads of cargo room — can be scaled to different wheelbases and battery sizes for use with heavy-duty utility vehicles, tow trucks and municipal buses.

Bollinger's Class 3 truck on display at the New York International Auto Show.

Medium-duty Class 3-6 trucks are capable of gross vehicle weight ratings (GVWR) from 10,000-26,000 pounds — much more robust than, say, the Lightning or Chevy Silverado EVs that are targeted at Class 2 GVWR pickup applications (6,000-10,000 pounds) like Amazon delivery trucks. Electric Ford E-Transit and GM BrightDrop vans serve the Class 1 market (0-6,000 pounds GVWR).

Corporate and government ESG policies are driving fleet purchases — backed by the promise of government subsidies so they can build out needed charging infrastructure.

“(Commercial EV fleets) are where everything is going as far as regulations from states,” said Bollinger in January. “The expectation on the commercial side is really going to be the driver for the volume of vehicles turning electric.”

Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at hpayne@detroitnews.com or Twitter @HenryEPayne.

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