Electric truck may fit farming needs

Electric vehicles under development or already being sold in North America are typically meant for urban environments and have limited use off high-grade roads.

But there are exceptions, including Bollinger Motors 614 horsepower electric four-by-four Class 3 truck, which has 668 pound-feet of torque. It has 15 inches ground clearance, the ability to lock front and the rear differentials, a 4,000 lb. payload and 7,500 lb. towing capacity.

Class 3 trucks include heavy-duty 3500 trucks from other domestic automakers.

Bollinger Motors is engineering toward production, which is expected to start next year with deliveries of the B1, B2, Cab on Chassis, and E-Chassis beginning in 2022.

The company describes the B1 as a sports utility truck and it looks similar to a Hummer. The B2 is a quad cab pickup truck, while the B2 Chassis cab is similar to the chassis cab offerings by the major vehicle manufacturers.

Underpinning these models is the E-Chassis.

“Most of the electronics, the battery, motor, gear boxes, the hydraulics, the radiator is all in the base. So when we go to manufacture this, we will have this E-Chassis, and then it goes down the line, and you can put a chassis cab on it or make it a full pick-up truck,” said Robert Bollinger of Bollinger Motors.

The E-Chassis will be made available for other equipment manufacturers to build upon, so that they can bring an all-electric offering into their line-up without having to develop the drive system.

“Someone could buy it and make an autonomous mining vehicle out of it, you could maybe turn it into an airport lug like those low airport vehicles that transport things around airports, you could put really anything on it,” Bollinger said.

The Cab on Chassis will be much more familiar for farmers or people that maintain truck fleets, and will be available in both two- and four-door and with multiple wheel length options.

The suggested retail price for the B1 and B2 is estimated at more than US$100,000.

The Bollinger B2 Chassis Cab is the world’s first Class 3 all-electric chassis-cab truck platform. | Bollinger Motors photo

“The truck came out to be expensive to make. It has a huge battery pack, a lot of motors and gearboxes,” Bollinger said.

“People should look past the suggested retail price and look at the total cost of ownership, which is equal to gas trucks but these have other capability.”

He said if someone looks at owning the vehicle over 10 years, it compares favourably when it comes to the overall cost to a $50,000 truck with an internal combustion engine, because electric vehicles are easier to maintain and cost about half the price to run.

An interesting feature on the B1 and B2 is called a Pass Through, which allows long objects to be carried the length of the vehicle just above the floor through the centre of the vehicle.

For instance, 13-foot boards can be carried by the B1 and 16-foot boards can be carried in the B2.

“It’s a Class 3 truck, which means it’s rated for 10,000 lb. and up. The truck weighs about 6,000 lb., but because it’s engineered to act as a 10,000 lb. truck, that basically means you can put 4,000 lb. in it,” Bollinger said.

There is a lockable trunk that has about eight cu. feet of space, and the 142 kilowatt-hour battery has 10 plugs on it that can be used for anything from power tools on a worksite to lights or heaters while camping.

“It has a 50-50 weight balance so (when) you’re doing things like plowing, it really holds tight to the snow. You can also take off all the doors, you can take off all the windows if you want to operate that way,” Bollinger said.

The front and back sets of wheels are each driven by a 307 horsepower electric engine that have two half shafts that extend out toward the portal gear hubs near the wheels.

“Those portal gear hubs give you an extra four inches of ground clearance. But they are also gear reduction so it changes your wheel speed to torque. This doubles the torch at the wheel,” Bollinger said.

“Most electric vehicles are one-speed gearbox, because it basically takes the power from the motor and takes it to the wheel. But we needed a two-speed gearbox because we wanted a high and a low.”

Bollinger Motors E-Chassis can is the base of all of its trucks. The company plans on selling the base to other companies that want a heavy duty electric drive frame to place their platforms on. | Bollinger Motors photo

The trucks are all-wheel drive all the time with limited slip differentials, but operators can also lock the differentials and disconnect the sway bars.

The company went with hydropneumatic suspension because it wanted the ability to raise the truck from 10 inches of clearance or raise it to 20 inches.

Bollinger said the prototypes have been tested in many environments including sand, rock, and snow, but that they have yet to swamp it down in the mud.

The trucks have a 200-mile range before needing a charge, which can take up to eight to 10 hours after being fully depleted when using a 220 plug in.

The vehicles can also accelerate to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds.

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