2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV First Drive Review. Shevrolet bolt
Chevrolet Bolt EV Review | Digital Trends
We’ve passed the period when all-electric cars were an oddity, but EVs aren’t fully commonplace. Tesla is no longer an upstart but an established automaker, and yet its offerings are still too upscale to make them regular sites around town. Other automakers have expanded their lines to offer their own fully-electric models, but even those have since been limited to short-range urban runabouts.
Chevrolet is the first to the table with the Chevrolet Bolt, an EV that has long range, but without the boutique price. Does it succeed? I took the plucky EV home to find out, starting with a drive from New York city to Long Island that would trigger some heavy range anxiety.
The Bolt EV is an all-new fully electric vehicle from Chevrolet that hopes to hit that EV sweet spot between long range and affordability. Specifically, the Bolt looks to provide an EPA-estimated range of 238 miles while remaining attainable for less than $30,000, after a $7,500 federal tax credit.
Trim levels & features
The Bolt comes in two trims: LT and Premiere. LT will net you stuff like 17-inch painted aluminum wheels, HID headlamps, 10 airbags, a 10.2-inch MyLink touch screen, two front USB ports, XM Radio, and seating for five.
Alex Kalogianni/Digital Trends
Alex Kalogianni/Digital Trends
Alex Kalogianni/Digital Trends
Alex Kalogianni/Digital Trends
Spring for Premiere, and you net the above plus nifty extras that include heated seats, collision alert, lane keep assist/departure warning, and an extra two USB ports for the rear seats. Chevy’s rear camera mirror is also available in this trim. This is the function that allows drivers to flip between a regular rear view mirror and a wide-angle rear camera display right inside the mirror casing.
The Bolt’s modest interior is home to a 10.2-inch touchscreen, which lets passengers access the car’s MyLink apps. For the most part this consists of different audio sources, the phone you’ve paired to the vehicle, and a screen for your battery consumption. While you’re on the go, this will give you an idea of how economical you’re being with your driving. A graphic shows the Bolt ether expending juice or regenerating power.
No one will know that it’s an electric car, though they might wonder how you snuck up behind them so silently.
Will you use it much? Not likely. The digital gauge cluster gives you the same information with less invasiveness and is in your line of sight. But the screen does give you a summary of your usage once you’ve stopped, allowing you to adjust your driving behavior accordingly. There’s little more to it than that, so it’s a good thing the Bolt EV is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible, allowing you to access to your preferred music apps as well as giving you in-dash navigation.
You’ll spend a lot of time checking the digital gauge cluster that displays your estimated range and power drain. You’d be surprised to see how much this influences your driving. Getting the Bolt to recoup some spent miles through coasting or braking will be your new favorite game.
Interior fit & finish
The Bolt’s interior may be spartan, but ample room makes it comfortable, at least. The beautiful thing about EV architecture is that it needs less space for components, so after Chevy laid down the batteries in the floor, the final two were stacked in the back to make the rear seats. Specifically, you get 39.7-inch and 41.6-inch of headroom/legroom in the front, and 37.9/36.5-inch of headroom/legroom in the back. This translates to plenty of room for four passengers. It allows for nearly 17 cubic feet of cargo volume. During my test run, I fit the entirety of a large supermarket run in the back without any of it spilling to the rear seats.
On paper, picking up the Bolt EV and taking it home should’ve been fine. 35 miles or so shouldn’t impact the 216 miles of range I had on tap. The trouble was, it was cold and rainy, and it really slowed me down. First off, the Bolt’s meat-and-potatoes is an electric motor that whirls up 266 pound-feet of torque and 150kW, or 200 horsepower. It sends this to the front wheels and doesn’t mess around when doing so. Torque comes down instantly if you decide to flatten the throttle, launching the car from 0 to 60 in less than seven seconds, according to Chevy.
Alex Kalogianni/Digital Trends
However, since I was severely stricken with range anxiety, I was too afraid to hit the throttle. While I prepared myself for short-term EV living, I didn’t anticipate how overly conscious I’d be about all the functions of the Bolt drawing from my range. Because of the rain, my wipers and headlights were on, and while they didn’t affect things considerably, it was always in the back of my mind. Should I charge the phone? Should I have the radio on? It’s stressful when everything drains your battery and there are no charging stations on the way home.
There’s plenty of get-up-and-go thanks to the instant torque.
The Chevrolet rep handing the car off was the first to tell me that stuff like that and charging my phone will have a minimal effect, but that didn’t keep me from being extremely miserly about every little function lest it took from my electronic bottom line. What would impact things in a big way would be the HVAC system, and that created my biggest worry of them all.
I walked to the pickup spot for the Bolt EV, so I was looking forward for the dry warmth of a car interior. As I set out on my way home, I managed only the former. Turning on the heat, whether for my comfort or to defrost the windshield, made the range estimate take sharp nosedive. I bundled up and only used it for a handful of quick blasts just so I could see where I was headed.
Making the journey less stressful was the one-pedal mode that the Bolt EV can switch into. In this mode, the regenerative systems to do all the braking, so lifting off the accelerator is all that’s needed to bring the car to a full, gentle stop. This was an easier way to deal with city traffic and I recouped more power that way. In fact, by using this mode and not turning on the heat, I made it out of Manhattan with a couple more miles of range than I started out with.
On the Highway, though, power was going to drain no matter what. Still, I was cautious of how much grunt I was using. My good behavior was rewarded with a substantial amount of juice still leftover for later use.
Alex Kalogianni/Digital Trends
After that initial trip, I realized that what my range anxiety was really just charge anxiety. Using the Bolt EV around town was fine and had such a minimal impact to the amount of charge I had, that I used all the systems generously. I can see just how great the Bolt is to use in urban areas. Front visibility is astonishingly good and the seats are decent places to sit.
Actually, let’s call it ‘charge anxiety’
There’s plenty of get-up-and-go thanks to the instant torque, but the Bolt is far from a sporty hatch. It’s fun, but the understeer is palpable if you try to wring the Bolt around a turn. It’s simply not built for that kind of performance, and that’s just fine. It’s not really meant to be sporty.
Charging is always on your mind, and though more and more charge points are popping up, they’re still a rare find. Much like my smartphone, if the Bolt wasn’t plugged in, I was concerned about having enough juice stored up for when I’d need it next. Commuting is fine in the Bolt, but if you don’t have a place to charge it at work, you must rely solely on the 120-volt charge from the morning. After a while, that drive would catch up with you unless you outfit you house with a 240-volt charger (actually an EVSE, Electric Vehicle Service Equipment).
There’s plenty of get-up-and-go thanks to the instant torque, but the Bolt is far from a sporty hatch.
That’s generally a $500 purchase, not including whatever price an electrician would bill you to install it. All this is of course assuming you’ve got a home with a garage/driveway. If you’re in a street parking situation or your apartment building is light on charging stations, the EV lifestyle may not be available to you just yet.
Are these Bolt-specific problems? Certainly not, but the Chevrolet Bolt is supposed to be the EV for the everyman. The compromises will be too great for many people, at least until charging speeds reduce and our charging infrastructure becomes more robust. Furthermore, if you’re somehow in an area where the super fast DC charging stations are all over the place, it’s a $750 option to make the Bolt stage 3 compatible. Better make sure you take advantage of that $7,500 tax credit, if you decide to go Bolt.
Those charging times, by the way, are 4 miles of range per hour on the standard 120V, 25 miles for a 240v-equipped charging station, and 90 miles of range from just 30 minutes attached to a DC fast charge. Unless you upgrade your home, it’s a very slow charge.
There are a few safety features on the Bolt, but many of them are available options. Things like forward collision, cross traffic, and blind zone alerts are extra. Ten airbags are standard, and so is a rear backup camera.
How DT Would Outfit This Car
Since the whole point of the Bolt is to be an attainable EV, and since we’d have to spend money to outfit our house to be EV-friendly, we would try to shave as much off the bottom line as possible. With that being the case, the LT trim would suit us just fine. It means shedding some of the comforts like heated seats, but you won’t want to use them anyway. It also means losing some of the handy safety features like cross-traffic and blind zone alert, but also unneeded things like ambient lighting and painted aluminum wheels.
What we would spring for, though is the Orange Burst Metallic color, just as our tester had. We’d pay to have the DC fast charging capability just in case, and then rely on our Apple/Android capability for our connectivity needs.Our Take
EV lifestyle adoption aside, the Bolt is a very competent car. It looks just like a cool, sharply styled hatchback and no one will know that it’s an electric car … Though, they might wonder how you snuck up behind them so silently.
The space inside is comfortable for people and useful for the kind of tasks you’d put a hatchback through on a regular basis. The handling isn’t a selling point, but it’s far from bad, and it’s not something Bolt shoppers are really concerned about, anyway.
Chevrolet’s Bolt is meant to be an attainable way to transition into an EV lifestyle, and while range anxiety is significant, the vast milage the Bolt offers over other EVs at this price point mitigates this over time. We got more comfortable with each journey, venturing out longer each time. As long as we were diligent about charging, the Bolt gave us no reason to worry.
Once the Bolt EV is integrated into your life, you’ll wonder how life was without it.
Is there a better alternative?
Like we said when we first drove the production Bolt EV, the real rival to watch is the Tesla Model 3, which will also cost under $30,000 after incentives. Tesla also plans to have a premium version of the Model 3 with a 300-mile range capacity, though at a higher, as-yet-unknown, price. In the meantime, the Volkswagen E-Golf and Ford Focus Electric are available for around the Bolt’s entry price, but offer less than half the Bolt’s range.
The Bolt EV is brand new, so we’ll have to wait and see how it fares over time, but we can speculate on a very particular part of any electrified vehicle: the battery. Bolt EV owners will have their batteries covered under warranty for 8 years/100k miles and will be able to get it replaced if the capacity degrades to 60 percent. It’s not as good as the Volkswagen E-Golf’s warranty to 70 percent capacity, but it’s better than Tesla’s … anything. Tesla’s battery warranty doesn’t include degradation. In any case, these numbers reflect the worst-case scenario and frankly, the likelihood of anyone keeping a first-generation Bolt EV for longer than five years seems slim.
Should you buy it?
Yes. If you’re in the market for an all-electric vehicle, but want the range without the boutique price, the Chevrolet Bolt is your best option right now. There are compromises to make, and you’ll need to get over your charging anxiety. Once you do, you’ll have a good looking, handy, comfortable hatchback that’ll tackle your everyday needs just fine.
2017 Chevy Bolt EV Info, Specs, Pictures, Wiki
The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV does more than set a new benchmark for affordable, long-range EV driving. It also raises the bar when it comes to driving performance.
Engineers developed the Bolt EV’s propulsion system to offer more than an estimated 200 miles (based on GM estimates) and a delightful driving experience that’s more akin to a compact sports sedan than a small utilitarian crossover.
“Being the leader in range and affordability means nothing if the car isn’t going to excite you each time you get behind the wheel,” said Josh Tavel, Chevrolet Bolt EV chief engineer. “That’s why the team was tasked with delivering a propulsion system that would also make the Bolt EV an electric vehicle that owners would love to drive.”
Single Motor Drive Unit
Like most EVs on the road, the Bolt EV’s drive system uses a single high capacity electric motor to propel the car. But it’s the smooth, powerful and quiet motor design, gear configuration and shift-by-wire system that separates it from the pack.
The engineering team designed the Bolt EV’s electric motor with an offset gear and shaft configuration tailored to meet efficiency and performance targets – most notably more than an estimated 200 miles of range. The motor is capable of producing up to 266 lb.-ft. (360 Nm) of torque and 200 hp (150 kW) of motoring power. Combined with a 7.05:1 final drive ratio, it helps propel the Bolt EV from 0-60 mph in less than seven seconds.
Power delivery is controlled by Chevrolet’s first Electronic Precision Shift system. This shift and park-by-wire system sends electronic signals to the Bolt EV’s drive unit to manage precise feel and delivery of power and torque, based on drive mode selection and accelerator inputs. A by-wire shifter requires less packaging space than a traditional mechanical shifter, resulting in more interior space and improved interior layout.
60 kWh Battery System
Having more than 1.3 billion miles of EV experience from the Chevrolet Volt helped Bolt EV battery engineers and strategic partner LG Electronics to develop an all-new cell and battery pack to offer more than an estimated 200 miles of range.
Battery system preliminary specifications include:
- 60 kWh lithium-ion battery pack.
- 288 lithium ion cells
- Five sections
- 10 modules
- 96 cell groups – three cells per group
- 960 pounds (435 kg) total weight
“You usually have a battery cell that delivers either the desired levels of energy or power, but not traditionally both. With this cell design and chemistry we were able to deliver a battery system with 160 kilowatts of peak power and 60 kilowatts hours of energy,” said Gregory Smith, Bolt EV battery pack engineering group manager.
The battery uses active thermal conditioning, similar to the Chevrolet Volt, to keep the battery operating at its optimum temperature, which results in solid battery life performance. The Bolt EV battery will be covered by an 8-year/ 100,000 mile (whichever comes first) limited warranty.
Inside the battery pack – which spans the entire floor, from the front foot well to back of the rear seat – is a new cell design and chemistry. The nickel-rich lithium-ion chemistry provides improved thermal operating performance over other chemistries, which requires a smaller active cooling system for more efficient packaging. The chemistry allows the Bolt EV to maintain peak performance in varying climates and driver demands.
The cells are arranged in a “landscape” format and each measures in at only 3.9 ins. (100 mms) high and 13.1 ins. (338 mms) wide providing improved packaging underfloor. The lower profile cell design enabled the vehicle structure team to maximize interior space.
The battery system is mated to a standard equipment 7.2 kW onboard charger for regular overnight charging from a 240-V wall box. A typical commute of 50 miles can be recharged in less than two hours. Bolt EV also features an optional DC Fast Charging system using the industry standard SAE Combo connector. Using DC Fast Charging, the Bolt EV battery can be charged up to 90 miles of range in 30 minutes. Outside temperatures may affect charging times.
Regen System Provides One-Pedal Driving
Regenerative braking has become more than just a tool to boost range, it’s also transformed into a feature that can provide an improved EV driving experience. The Bolt EV features a new regenerative braking system that has the ability to provide one pedal driving.
“Interviews with EV enthusiasts indicated their desire for one pedal driving capability on the Bolt EV. One pedal operation boosts the thrill and uniqueness of EV driving,” Tavel said.
Through a combination of increased regenerative deceleration and software controls, one pedal driving enables the vehicle to slow down and come to a complete stop without using the brake pedal in certain driving conditions.
When operating the Bolt EV in “Low” mode, or by holding the Regen on Demand paddle located on the back of the steering wheel, the driver can bring the vehicle to a complete stop under most circumstances by simply lifting their foot off the accelerator, although the system does not relieve the need to use the brake pedal altogether.
Operating the Bolt EV in “Drive” mode and not pulling the paddle while decelerating delivers a driving experience where usage of the brake pedal is required to stop.
Chevrolet Bolt | PluginCars.com
The Chevy Bolt, a tall hatchback, employs a design that’s in line with the marque’s lineup of crossovers and small cars—rather than the futuristic look used by well-known small EVs, like the BMW i3 and Nissan LEAF.
The Bolt's styling strategy is borrowed from small cars like the Honda Fit: It offers a surprising amount of interior space contained in a compact platform. Designers added some amount of sporty appeal by using slanted body creases, a tapered and rising window line, a raked windshield, an aggressive front fascia, and wheels pushed to the corners. The Bolt has a handsome overall appearance, although there’s only so much excitement you can add to a tall utilitarian hatchback with thin low-profile tires.
General Motors is calling the Bolt a crossover, but the label—usually reserved for crossover sport utility vehicles—is loosely applied in this case. Perhaps it’s a matter of how you use the term because you could consider the Bolt a crossover compact, not dissimilar to the Ford C-Max (and C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid). The idea behind the C-Max is to maximize the utility of the compact “C” platform, the same design intent for the Bolt.
The Bolt's 150-kW electric motor produces 200 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque to the front axle. That output is enough for the Bolt to go from zero to 60 mph in less than seven seconds.
Most reviewers give Chevy credit for the Bolt’s comfortable ride and compliant steering. As with most electric vehicles, the Bolt delivers quick acceleration from a standstill—even more than you will find in the Nissan LEAF, but perhaps not as much as the BMW i3. Like other EVs, the Bolt’s excellent torque at low speeds doesn’t translate to great passing power on the highway. While still perfectly adequate for highway driving, the Bolt’s performance is not that much different than what’s provided by other efficient front-wheel-drive cars, regardless of powertrain. The ride is very quiet in the city and on the highway.
The feel of the road depends on which driving mode is selected. Put the gear selector into Low to gain more grab from the brakes—what EV drivers call “one-pedal” driving. In other words, as opposed to quickly shifting your foot from the accelerator to the brake, the car will quickly come to a stop by merely lifting off the go-pedal—but not touching the brake pedal. This is a strategy to maximize the amount of braking energy that’s reclaimed for charging the battery. The same purpose can be achieved by using the small paddle behind the steering wheel to increase regenerative braking. The Bolt’s braking is smooth and consistent, a trait not shared by many hybrids and EVs that have uneven or tentative braking.
The Bolt carries a 60-kWh battery pack—providing an estimated 238 miles on a single charge. That’s a big leap over previous electric cars offered at nearly the same price as the Bolt. Car and Driver calls the Bolt “a major milestone,” for a good reason. “It no longer matters if Tesla goes belly-up,” the magazine states. “Electric cars appear to have laid down permanent roots in the automotive landscape with the first long-range, affordable EV from an established, mainstream automaker.”
The Bolt’s 238-mile EPA driving range is the headline. But also consider this: GM engineers said that the low end of the driving range for the Bolt is about 160 miles on a full charge. That’s how many miles you might expect if you put the pedal to the floor and push the Bolt to its 93-mph top speed for an entire trip. Obviously, this is not a real-world scenario—and the outside temperature and the use of auxiliary energy-draining functions (like heat) were not provided—but the 160-mile stat is still impressive.
As a point of comparison, Car and Driver drove the Bolt with the cruise control set to 75 mph and the climate system set to 72 degrees. The magazine's reviewers drove the battery to exhaustion in 190 miles.
For every kind of local travel—even long daily commutes in very cold weather—you will not face any range anxiety. The Bolt’s thoughtful dashboard display, which provides high, low and estimated remaining range, lends additional confidence.
The Chevy Bolt’s longer range is not only a matter of using a bigger battery. It’s also an issue of using that battery to a greater capacity. When the first-generation Volt (with a V) came out, it famously only tapped into about half of its 16-kWh pack. Engineers usually prevent the battery pack from being fully utilized, because deep cycling of a battery will degrade the pack over time. GM engineers told PluginCars.com last year that nearly all of the Bolt’s 60-kWh pack is utilized. We’ve come a long way in a short time.
Perhaps the decision to use more of the battery’s capacity is due to the Bolt battery’s substantial size. The vast majority of drivers only clock about 40 miles a day. So the Bolt’s 238-mile pack will rarely get fully charged, fully discharged and then fully charged again. As a result, why not grant use of nearly all of the 60-kWh pack for those occasions when it’s needed?
Using a 240-volt charging station, the Bolt's 7.2-kilowatt onboard charger can add about 25 miles of driving range in one hour at the plug. Using its Quick Charging port, Bolt drivers can add about 90 miles of range in 30 minutes.
In practical use, nearly all drivers will usually come home with a sizable amount of energy left in the pack. That means overnight charging (or even a charging session during a long afternoon) will easily bring the Bolt’s battery to its full capacity.
If the Bolt is your only vehicle, and you plan to take regular long-distance road trips (staying on the path of the relatively limited number of CCS-compatible quick chargers), then you should go with the optional $750 CCS fast-charging port. It’s certainly a nice-to-have option, but 238 miles of juice is way more than enough for most drivers for nearly every day of the year (without any need to hunt down a public quick charger).
Besides praise for its long range, the compliment most often bestowed upon the Bolt is for its generous interior space. Nearly every reviewer confirms what GM promised: a compact car with the interior space of a mid-size vehicle. It’s considered one of the roomiest vehicles in its segment. Visibility is excellent. Four adult passengers will find plenty of space, an extra inch or two of legroom, and a high seating position. (Three grown-ups in the back are fine for relatively short trips.) In addition to a generous 94.4 cubic feet of passenger volume, the interior cargo space expands from 17 cubic feet to an ample 55 cubes when the seats are folded down.
Some of the extra room was managed via the use of thinner seats with less padding. That’s a great trick, although it could reduce comfort for longer trips.
The interior space is well organized with multiple useful storage compartments, even if the abundant use of hard plastics gives an economy feel. You can spruce up with the appointments with the Premiere trim, which replaces the cloth seats with leather, providing heat to both front and rear seats, and adding many other tech enhancements.
Regardless of trim, the dashboard provides a digital 8-inch instrument cluster and 10.2-inch color touchscreen for artfully display the cabin’s core functions. Those high-tech features are complemented by a digital rearview mirror, which uses a rear camera to provide an 80-degree view in back. (An optional surround-view camera is also available.) Other high-tech features include Wi-Fi connectivity for up to seven devices and EV-specific routing for the navigation.
Safety testing for the Bolt has not been conducted yet by NHTSA or the IIHS.
The Bolt uses Michelin's self-sealing tires. The technology eliminates both a spare tire and the inflator kit for flats.
The 2017 Chevy Bolt comes standard with a rearview camera. However, it does not provide an option for adaptive cruise control.
Available safety features include blind spot monitoring, lane change alerts, lane departure warnings, rear parking sensors, rear cross traffic alerts, a rearview mirror that displays a live camera feed, forward collision warnings with pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, and high beam assist, which automatically switch to low beams when it detects an approaching car.
The Bolt is offered at a starting price of $37,500, and will eligible for a $7,500 tax credit to yield a net price tag of $30,000 (before local incentives).
The entry-level Bolt LT comes with the 10.2-inch touchscreen, support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a Wi-Fi hotspot, a rearview camera, Bluetooth, voice recognition, two USB ports, satellite radio, proximity keyless entry, and an 8-inch driver information display (with speed, distanced traveled, remaining battery charge, and other pertinent information). The $550 Comfort and Convenience package adds heated front seats and a heated steering wheel. The $495 Driver Confidence package provides rear parking sensors, rear cross traffic alerts, blind spot monitoring, and lane change alerts.
The Bolt Premier trim starts at almost $42,000, adding leather upholstery, front and rear heated seats, a 360-degree parking camera system, the safety features found in the LT’s Driver Confidence package, and the rearview mirror with an integrated camera feed. The $485 Infotainment package adds a wireless device charging station, Bose audio system, and two USB ports for rear passengers. The $495 Driver Confidence II package includes high beam assists, forward collision warnings, pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, and lane departure warnings.
Comparison with Similar Vehicles
Until the arrival of the Tesla Model 3—sometime in late 2017 or early 2018—the Bolt stands alone as by far the most affordable car offering anywhere close to 238 miles of driving range. Sure, you could save a few thousand dollars by buying a Nissan LEAF, but by the critical measure of total driving range (or even miles of driving range per dollar), Nissan’s electric car is not in the Bolt’s league. Beyond that, the Bolt offers more interior space for passengers and cargo than the LEAF—and by most standards is a more attractive vehicle. The Bolt provides a longer list of high-tech and safety features as well.
Of course, the Bolt is a Chevy and not a luxury vehicle. But if you’re looking for finest appointments and nicest creature comforts—at least what you can find in the plug-in market—then perhaps you could consider either the BMW i3 or Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive. The i3 does have a beautiful Scan-design quality, but from our perspective, luxury equals range. On that account, the Bolt deserves a look and a test drive, even if you're accustomed to a luxury brand.
So, if you can wait until the Tesla Model 3 arrives to make a comparison with the Bolt, then, by all means, hold off for now. But until the Model 3 arrives and is available to purchase, we don’t know how it will stack up. In the meantime, the Bolt is here now—with plenty of range, power, good looks, and practicality.
In early 2017, the Bolt is only available in California and Oregon. Pay a visit or place a call to your local Chevy dealership or car buying service. General Motors plans to roll the Bolt out to all 50 states over the course of 2017. If you’re outside California and Oregon, it might make sense to get on a waiting list.
New and Used Chevrolet Bolt EV (Chevy): Prices, Photos, Reviews, Specs
The Chevrolet Bolt EV was launched in 2017 and is the first affordable electric car with a 200-mile range ever sold in the U.S.
It isn't the first electric car, nor is it the one with the longest range. It's not the least expensive, nor is it the most spacious. The Bolt EV's "first" is that it's the first to blend seamlessly into the roadways as "just another car" that's powered by an electric motor.
With the Bolt EV, Chevy has a competitor for the Tesla Model 3, Volkswagen e-Golf, and Nissan Leaf.
MORE: Read our 2018 Chevrolet Bolt EV review
All Bolt EVs are assembled in Michigan, although many of the car's powertrain and display components come from GM's development partner LG Chem in South Korea.
While it is built in the same Orion, Michigan assembly plant as the next-generation Chevy Sonic subcompact, the Bolt EV rides on its own dedicated platform, with a wide, flat lithium-ion battery pack under the cabin floor and an electric motor powering the front wheels.
But it's the 238-mile EPA-rated range that's really the Bolt's calling card. That's a capability otherwise available solely in cars with a Tesla badge, at prices of $70,000 and up. It's delivered by a 60-kilowatt-hour battery pack that powers a 150-kilowatt (200-horsepower) motor driving the front wheels. The Bolt's overall weight is about 3,580 pounds, according to the manufacturer. Official charging times haven't yet been announced.
Walking up to the Bolt EV, it appears a bit smaller than the Leaf on the road—perhaps due to its short overhangs—but the car is wide for its length and actually larger in person than it appears from a distance. The nose has a Volt-like "grille" blanking panel, flanked by light units that wrap around and sweep most of the way back to the base of the windshield posts. A larger opening below provides an air intake.
A body-side crease sweeps up toward the rear, with the bottom of the window line climbing even higher at its back end. The rear has a relatively vertical hatch opening onto a spacious load bay with 16.9 cubic feet of cargo volume.
The Bolt EV's cabin is light and airy, and the remarkably thin front seats give an extra inch of rear leg room compared to regular seats. Four adults can ride comfortably, though the "five-passenger" description is pushing it.
Passenger volume is 94.4 cubic feet, against 92.4 cubic feet for a Nissan Leaf—and only 94 cubic feet for the much larger Tesla Model S. The Bolt's interior is "two segments larger" than the car's exterior size would suggest, said development engineers.
The lack of an engine let Bolt EV designers move the windshield base down and forward, letting them rake the large glass at almost the same angle as its short hood. Frontal vision from the driver's seat is exceptional, which will make the Bolt easy to park.
The seats are comfortable, and all occupants sit upright, and higher than they do in the more rakish Volt. The slim dash and console and the car's flat floor make the front footwells especially wide, and outward visibility is excellent.
The dashboard has both a central 10.2-inch touchscreen built into the top of the console and a fully digital 8.0-inch instrument cluster behind the steering wheel. The Bolt EV also uses General Motors' new digital rearview mirror; its rear-facing camera gives a wide 80-degree image in the crisp digital display that replaces the mirror glass, against 22 degrees for a conventional mirror.
There's no spare tire, but neither is there an inflator kit; the electric Bolt will be the first car on the market to use the latest development of Michelin's self-sealing tire technology. A portable 120-volt charging cord is housed under the load bay, Chevy expects most Bolt EV users to recharge its large battery pack at 240-Volt Level 2 charging stations.
The Bolt accelerates confidently even with four adults in the car. GM quotes acceleration from 0 to 60 mph at less than seven seconds, and we found we could chirp the inside front tire under full power out of a turn. It corners relatively flat on its 17-inch alloy wheels, and the steering had a nice positive self-centering action. We didn't hear any motor or electronics whine, and the brake feel was consistent enough that the transitions between regenerative and friction braking was imperceptible.
The standard Drive mode behaves just like a car with a conventional automatic transmission (minus the shifting), complete with idle creep. A paddle behind the left side of the steering wheel lets the driver increase the regenerative braking rate. Low mode, which many drivers will come to prefer, provides so-called "one-pedal driving," including the ability to slow right down to a full stop without touching the brake pedal. It's a smoother, calmer, more relaxing way to drive.
The base price of the Bolt EV is $37,500 before incentives, with higher trim levels and options pushing it above $40,000. The car qualifies for a $7,500 federal income-tax credit, as well as a $2,500 purchase rebate in California and other states with similar incentives.
Changes for the 2018 model year were minimal: The heated steering wheel now switches on automatically when the car determines cabin temperature warrants it. Otherwise, the Bolt EV's second model year is essentially identical to its first.
Chevrolet Bolt 2018 - View Specs, Prices, Photos & More
The Bolt EV sets new benchmarks for affordable, long-range EV driving, with GM engineers developing the car’s propulsion system to offer up to 383 kilometres of range. Bolt EV’s drive system uses a single high-capacity electric motor to propel the car. The motor has an offset gear and shaft configuration tailored to meet efficiency and performance targets, and is capable of producing up to 266 pound-feet of torque and 200 horsepower of motoring power. The base LT comes with standard features that include a Regen on Demand steering wheel paddle, rear-vision camera, 10.2-inch diagonal colour touchscreen and self-sealing tires. The topline Premier includes all LT equipment plus additional standard features such as leather-appointed seats, front and rear heated seats, surround camera and rear camera mirror. Changes for 2018 are minor — a heated steering wheel is now included with available Comfort and Convenience package on LT trim and standard on Premier trim. And both the driver and front passenger get a sliding sun visor.
City - 0 L/100 km
Hwy - 0 L/100 km
High-capacity electric motor (200 hp; 266 lb-ft)
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2017 Chevrolet Bolt Release Date, Price and Specs
Vehicle manufacturers can talk all they want about how the average American on an average day only needs 40 miles of range from an EV to get by. But, out in the real world, sometimes you need to go farther. Sometimes a lot farther, and EVs don't stand a chance of making inroads into the American market until they can take you there.
And this is why the Chevy Bolt, a battery-powered EV intended for the mass market, packs as much range as it does. 238 miles worth, officially according to the EPA. That's more range than a Tesla Model S 60, a car that costs over $60,000. The Bolt? Chevy's not saying, except that it'll start below $37,500 -- and that's before the $7,500 federal rebate.
But it isn't all about cost and theoretical range, it's about ride quality, comfort and, perhaps most crucially, range in the real world. The best way to get a feel for all that is to go on a road trip, and why not choose one of the best roads in the country? That would be Highway One, which scrawls a circuitous course down the California coastline.
I had 240 miles worth of that road to cover in the Bolt, only one charge to do it with, and a plane to catch on the other side. Spoiler alert: I made my flight, and I learned a lot about the Bolt along the way.
Comfort and convenience
You'll never be short on information on where the Bolt's power is coming from.Tim Stevens/Roadshow
The Bolt is an upright subcompact hatchback that very much fits in the mold of the Ford C-Max or the Honda Fit. That is to say, a car that looks much bigger on the inside than it does on the outside. This alone is not particularly notable for a modern car, but it is still a bit of a rarity for an EV.
Most battery-powered machines feature interiors vastly compromised by the need to make room for big, bulky battery packs. Not here. The pack slots in beneath the front seats and runs beneath the rear, where it doubles up beneath the rear cushions. This does result in a higher seating position than in many cars of this sort, but it also provides a nice flat floor between the rear seats and, crucially, a spacious trunk.
Headroom is generous, front and rear, as is leg- and shoulder-room. There's plenty of room, basically. There's a fair bit of tech, too, with support for both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus a lane-keep-assist system that'll keep you from wandering.
The driveTim Stevens/Roadshow
My drive started in Monterey, a town that looked remarkably quiet and calm just a few weeks after the furor of the Pebble Beach Concours had passed. My destination was Santa Barbara, 200-odd miles away per the direct route. But, of course, the direct route is no fun. Instead it'd be Highway One, which meant more miles but at a lower speed, something of a fair trade as far as an EV is concerned.
I promised myself I'd treat the Bolt like a normal car: no babying the throttle, no hypermiling, and no lifting and coasting at any opportunity. I just drove. That means I used the AC when I wanted it (most of the time), didn't glide along well beneath the speed limit and, when a rare passing opportunity appeared, I put my foot right to the floor and took it.I promised myself to treat the Bolt like a normal car: no babying the throttle, no hypermiling, and no lifting and coasting at any opportunity. I just drove.
And the Bolt responded. It's not a fast car by any means, but it does have a prodigious amount of torque as you'd expect, enough to accelerate to 60 from a stop in less than 7 seconds. After that it runs out of steam quickly, but for zipping away from lights or ducking into gaps in traffic, it's quite rewarding.
Handling is reasonably good, too. A 3,500-pound weight means the Bolt is far heavier than most of its competing subcompacts, but that does make it lighter than many other EVs out there. That, plus the battery pack situated in the floor, means surprisingly deft handling and a reasonably fun drive.
However, push things too hard and you'll quickly find the limits of the tires, which offer about as much grip as a curling stone. Still, in a machine like this, low rolling resistance is key.
All this was done in a preproduction car, so there's still time for the Bolt to be tweaked and tuned before it starts hitting dealerships by the end of this year. But overall I was quite impressed. It's a fun little car to drive. And, most importantly, it got me where I was going.
Through the course of the day I covered 240 miles and arrived at my destination with a whole 17 miles left on the clock. Again, that was without driving conservatively. Note that this was in near ideal conditions, moderate speeds at moderate temperatures. Colder weather will mean less range, as will higher speeds, but in its element you'll be able to get plenty far in the Bolt. Far enough that you might just be be looking forward to taking a break.
And, when you do, fast DC charging will get you 90 miles more range in just a half-hour. All this in a car that could cost you less than $30,000 after rebates. That's a very appealing package -- a package that might finally bring the EV straight into the mainstream.
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Is 200 the magic number? Would that many miles of reliable electric driving range make you consider an electric vehicle as your daily driver? Chevy hopes so and as such has invested considerable effort into making sure the purely electric Bolt is a real car with a useful package and respectable ride and handling chops. Heck, Chevy even installed an SCCA racer, Josh Tavel, as chief engineer to make that happen. How did he and his bi-continental team (design and development work has been split between Korea and the U.S.) do?The front and rear lighting units of the cars we drove were all prototypes, as tooling these complex parts requires among the greatest lead times.
I’m in Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show, where Chevy has set up an elaborate Electric Avenue display showing off all its electrified offerings with the opportunity to take them for a spin around a closed course in a parking lot. There are no bumps, and the few jinks left and right that the coned course provides don’t give too much opportunity to assess steering feel, body lean, and things of that sort. What it does reveal is that the front motor pulls the Bolt away from a stop or a corner with EV-grade authority. Power and torque specs are being held until the vehicle’s launch at the Detroit show, but we are told the 0-60-mph dash will take less than 7 seconds. If you drop the shift lever into low “gear,” you get one-pedal driving, which summons more regenerative braking when you lift off the throttle. This is more relaxing than moving from gas to brake in stop-and-go driving. The degree of regen is considerably less than in the early Mini-e (which felt like the airbags might trigger if you jumped off the gas), and if it’s not enough, you can trigger the paddle on the left side of the wheel to increase the level of regen a bit more. The self-sealing Michelin tires seem to provide reasonable grip for a low rolling resistance tire, and the brake pedal feel seemed slightly better than average for such blended regen/friction systems.
Exact EPA range numbers and other key electrical system details have not been divulged yet, but we are assured the three-digit range number will start with a 2, and we’re told that the battery pack will charge in 9 hours at 32 amps and 240 volts. With a level 2 charger, the Bolt EV can get an 80-percent charge in 60 minutes. Inductive vehicle charging wasn’t considered, as these systems still weigh too much and suffer low efficiency. They’ll be incorporated when full autonomy arrives.
Designing the Bolt from scratch on a brand-new architecture presented great opportunities for integration of the electric equipment, such as designing an extra-long (for a B-class car) wheelbase with GM’s shortest front and rear overhangs to accommodate a big, low, flat battery pack as an integrated structural element. The pack contributes 25 percent to the torsional stiffness of the car. That’s a luxury that’s impossible when electrifying an existing gas car such as the Spark, but dedicated EVs present their own challenges. Routing the angled forces of the new small-overlap crash test through such a small overhang without a nice, big lump of nearly solid metal to help distribute the load proved tricky. The electric motor is too small and low to be of much help, and the power controller mounted above it isn’t massive or stiff enough, so an upper cradle and cross-car beam had to be developed to stabilize the front clip.
Chevrolet is classifying the Bolt as a small station wagon, not as an SUV or hatchback. There’s no AWD option, so SUV was out, and the way cargo volume is calculated for hatchbacks would have shortchanged that number (20.2 cubic feet to 56.6 behind the front seats). At 94.4 cubic feet, its interior passenger volume is said to be larger than that of a Nissan Leaf. Add the 16.9 cubic feet of cargo behind the fold-flat 60/40 rear seat, and you’d have an EPA midsize car if not for the station wagon designation. The rear-seat roominess is made possible in part by the (industry-first) ultra-slim front seat designs that involve a metal framework with a flexible plastic shell lined with a thin (0.4-0.6-inch thick) layer of foam. They provide ample support, and in our brief drive we felt no hard pressure points. And anyway, nobody will ever spend 10 hours at a stretch in these seats.
Naturally, since this is CES in Vegas, Chevy spent a good bit of time demonstrating the Bolt’s connectivity and infotainment features, which get displayed on a huge 10.2-inch center console screen, with another 8.0-inch screen serving as the instrument cluster—both of them reconfigurable. The inside rear-view mirror is another screen, fed by a camera on the rear hatch providing an 80-degree field of view that’s always visible, even if passengers or cargo obscure the rear window. Flip what looks like the day/night lever on ordinary mirrors, and you get normal glass mirror—perfect if the hatch is open (or the camera broken). There’s also a 360-degree around-view that shows on the center-stack screen.A “false floor” will be offered to make the floor level with the bumper and provide concealed stowage, but the cargo dimensions are measured with it removed, as shown here.
Seven devices can connect to the onboard Wi-Fi hot spot, and 10 phones can pair with the car. The driver’s various infotainment, nav, climate, and other preferences can be dialed up, but they’re not keyed to a particular key fob. Rather, they’re associated with the paired phone. Which phone? The first to be detected upon startup is assumed to be the driver’s. If multiple phones are detected, the phone assigned the highest priority is selected. And Bluetooth low-energy senses the phone approaching and can unlock the car. Eventually, it will enable car sharing by authorizing other users’ phones, but for now the key must be present to drive off. There are new functions enabled on the MyChevrolet mobile app, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. Myriad screens offer a multitude of eco-coaching and recording capabilities, and it will be possible to share these results with other EV owners to compete for top miles/kW-hr, energy regeneration, climate efficiency, etc.
The Bolt is scheduled to go on sale in the fourth quarter of 2016 at a net price (after federal tax credits) of less than $30,000. Watch motortrend.com for more details following its official Detroit debut, and expect a more extensive drive coming this summer.
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