Bollinger selects Roush as manufacturer for EV platforms, chassis cabs

Breana Noble
The Detroit News

Bollinger Motors Inc. on Monday said Roush Enterprises Inc. will be the contract manufacturer to assemble  its line of all-electric commercial platforms and chassis cabs in Livonia.

The agreement secures more EV manufacturing — specifically of larger commercial Class 3 through 6 trucks and vans — for Michigan just as some have expressed concerns the home of the Motor City isn't keeping up with the major investments announced in Southern states for the new generation of the auto industry.

Roush Enterprises Inc. will manufacturer Bollinger Motors Inc.'s commercial electric-vehicle platforms in Livonia.

Roush will work for Bollinger under a supplier agreement. The number of jobs the assembly will create or retain wasn't immediately available. The Oak Park-based EV startup also didn't disclose a timeline, though CEO Robert Bollinger told The Detroit News the company will be working on more prototypes this year and design verification next year.

"Their location is 20 minutes from us," Bollinger said of the Roush announcement, which aligns with the company's appearance at the Advanced Clean Transportation Expo in California. "Roush does a lot of testing for a lot of OEMs, homologation and durability testing. They can be a resource for that and helping to final engineer the vehicles for production. They have a long history of engineering and vehicle engineering and electrical vehicle engineering. They're the perfect partner to make the vehicles the best they can be."

Bollinger Motors CEO Robert Bollinger has self-financed his startup EV company.

Roush won't build the off-road-capable $125,000 B1 SUV and B2 pickup truck after Bollinger said in January it was shifting its focus to the commercial sector instead of the retail market, based on customer demand. It hasn't shared details on pricing for its commercial vehicles, but expects to provide more information on reservations later this year.

Last month at the New York International Auto Show, it said it would build Class 3 trucks for New York utility Con Edison. Ford Motor Co.'s F-350 is a Class 3 truck. Bollinger said the company also has had discussions with other utilities, last-mile delivery services and municipalities about its vehicles.

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

Bollinger looked at seven possible manufacturers, but Roush rose to the top because of location, costs and pricing history, its CEO said. The company faced delays in announcing the manufacturer as it moved its focus to the commercial side, requiring changes in its manufacturing layout and needs for the larger vehicles.

“Our proven processes are engineered to bring products to market quickly and efficiently, while meeting OEM-level quality standards,” Brad Rzetelny, vice president of Roush Flexible Assembly, said in a statement. “With fully scalable manufacturing, we can grow with Bollinger Motors to meet the growing need from its fleet customers as they convert to electric vehicles.”

Bollinger Motors Inc. will sell Class 3, 4, 5 and 6 electric commercial trucks.

Bollinger said the timing of production starting should begin as more governments and companies look to transition their vehicles. The company, which also designs its own batteries, expects to make an announcement on the manufacturing of those later this year, Bollinger said.

The industry is facing a global microchip shortage and increasing prices of aluminum and battery minerals. Bollinger said his suppliers have expressed confidence with the company's timeline and are seeking to reduce the number of needed chips for the battery management and other high-voltage systems.

Out of a passion for sustainable transportation, Bollinger founded the startup in 2015 in upstate New York after selling his cosmetics marketing company. It later moved to Oak Park.

"We have a great Michigan story," he said. "We moved here on purpose with what Michigan can bring and what the Detroit area can bring. Roush was so perfect being just 20 minutes from us."

bnoble@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @BreanaCNoble