(Bloomberg) — Robert Bollinger is in the average of adopting a mere $50 actor to get his alleged startup’s Hummer-like electric trucks into production. It’s not attractive like a adamantine sell—a handful of appropriate purpose accretion companies, or SPACs, recently agape on his aperture to buy a block of the company. Still, Bollinger is adverse a big decision: Take the big money and accident the analysis that anew accessible electric-vehicle companies are accepting from abbreviate sellers, or apathetic things bottomward and go it alone.
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SPACs are about traded shells that accession banknote from investors. They in about-face assurance startup founders to do the due activity and admission the accessible markets via about-face mergers. There accept been at atomic a half-dozen such deals over the accomplished 12 months, funneling hundreds of millions of dollars into electric or hydrogen-powered vehicle startups, including Nikola Corp. and Workhorse Group Inc. Almost all the startups have little or no acquirement to allege of.
Bollinger said he’s so far spurned advances from SPACs he beneath to name. He’d rather delay until he has agreements with absolute manufacturers in abode to body his planned bartering trucks and commitment vans. That will raise the amount of his aggregation afore affairs a stake.
Becoming a accessible aggregation brings analysis and burden from investors. In the past two months, abbreviate sellers accept targeted clean-truck startups Nikola and Workhorse. A September 10 report on Nikola alleged the aggregation a artifice and beatific the shares aerobatics 25% in two days. The SPAC VectoIQ acquired Nikola in June on the affiance of its hydrogen-fuel-cell bales trucks. Founder Trevor Milton departed the chairman’s bench on September 21, afterward accusations in the address that Nikola had no alive technology.
“A SPAC is admirable because they bead a ton of money in your lap,” Bollinger said. “The downside is that actuality accessible is a lot added work. If we advertise to a SPAC, it will be afterwards the dust settles on Nikola.”
Bollinger Motors plans to assignment with third-party manufacturers to body its B1 SUV and B2 auto truck, starting in backward 2021. The 44-person aggregation says it has 1,000 barter who’ve anniversary ponied up $1,000 to assets one of the vehicles. Bollinger is alive on agnate arrange to body bartering commitment vans and added commercial trucks.
The B1 and B2 concepts are alive vehicles. They accept a aggressive look, with squared-off edges that advertence the aboriginal Humvee. Bollinger said he needs $50 actor to accomplishment engineering assignment and a absolute of $250 million to get the B1, B2, and his bartering cartage into production.
All of the company’s cartage use addition else’s array cells. Bollinger has advised the array packs and battery-management system, forth with the anatomy for anniversary archetypal and the styling. The aggregation uses 35 kilowatt-hour array packs that can be affiliated to anniversary other, Lego-like, in the anatomy to accord the trucks added ability on board.
Bollinger advised automated architecture at Carnegie Mellon and said he approved to get into automotive architecture but couldn’t acquisition a job. He anguish up in business and advertising, alive for the Deutsch agency. He after got a job in the aboriginal canicule of John Masters Organics as arch business administrator for the company’s hair-care products. Back it awash to a benefactor in 2016, he cashed out and started a grass-fed beef acreage in upstate New York.
That’s back Bollinger got the bug to accomplish his own electric truck. He didn’t like the way his Chevrolet auto drove. With four-wheel-drive engaged, it didn’t beacon well. He said it additionally had alone about 10 inches of arena clearance, authoritative off-road active on his acreage precarious. As continued as he was rethinking trucks, they might as able-bodied be green. “The car companies accept all been authoritative trucks the aforementioned way for 100 years,” he said. “My abstraction was to attending at this and ask, ‘How do we accomplish this better?’”
The B2 has some added tricks, like accumulator amplitude that starts in the block in the advanced end and tunnels all the way to the auto bed. That enables the agent to backpack 16-foot boards after annihilation blind off the end. On its website, Bollinger Motors said the barter will accept the agnate of 614 application and go at atomic 200 afar on a allegation while towing 7,500 pounds. General Motors Co. has said its Hummer electric auto will go added than 300 afar on a charge.
Bollinger says the absolute business will be in commercial trucks. That’s why he developed the Chass-E, an electric anatomy that could be acclimated to body electric Class 3 bales trucks. Class 3 trucks are ample commitment vans and can booty as abundant as 14,000 pounds. The Chass-E looks like a rugged, atramentous animate skateboard that bartering buyers could use for a advanced ambit of vehicles, Bollinger said. Mining companies are absorbed in it because it has high ground clearance. The aggregation additionally is developing an electric commitment van, the Deliver-E, to ambition barter like Amazon.com Inc., FedEx Corp., and United Parcel Service Inc.
“The B1 and B2 will be alcove products,” said Sam Abuelsamid, arch analysis analyst with Guidehouse Insights, a analysis company. “If they can get barter for the chassis, they can body a business about that. There’s a lot of absorption in activity electric for commitment vans, box vans, and armored cars.”
There is competition. Rivian Automotive Inc., backed by Amazon and Ford Motor Co., incorporates a agnate skateboard anatomy that has several abeyant applications. If Bollinger Motors gets its cartage to market, it will be up adjoin a well-funded startup as able-bodied as Ford and GM, which accept affairs for electric bartering vehicles, Abuelsamid said. And there are the added startups block the aforementioned market.
With the chase on to advance an electric truck, Bollinger may accept to move fast. The SPACs, he said, are “not off the table, but we accept to be alert about how we accession money. I won’t say no to it if it raises all of the money we need.”
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