As its on-sale date and production start approach, this week Chevrolet released more info on the 2017 Bolt EV which is a first in its class of next-generation electric cars.
Automakers are always looking for ways to amplify excitement for their products, and Chevrolet’s bite-sized revelations are a latest trend to tease a new product along in the public eye, but ultimately the car’s merits will have to speak for themselves.
General Motors said it made it a priority to fast track the first EV with over 200 miles range at a $30,000-after-subsidy price point, and to date it’s been so far so good for the merit count.
People interested in the car – or already pre-sold in their mind – are still anticipating when Chevrolet will open up ordering through its network of dealers who’ve signed on for this and other electrified vehicle sales, though it has started a new website for it.
Many other questions remain, but meanwhile here’s a list of 5 cool things about the 2017 Chevy Bolt
238 Miles Range
Chevrolet said the Bolt EV would provide “more than” 200 miles range, and its EPA estimate of 238 miles in combined city/highway driving is remarkable for the car with a 60-kWh battery which is the size that nominally comes also the base Tesla Model S.
Drivers accustomed to the tremendous energy stored in gasoline may not appreciate a whole 38 miles over the minimum 200-mile target but at this stage, it was a big jump. In contrast, the first 2011 Nissan Leaf came with 73 miles from its 24-kWh battery, and that started the current major manufacturer EV era. Nissan then upped this by 11 miles in 2013, and again by 23 miles in 2016.
The now-107-mile Leaf has been a standard bearer in this EV category and over the past six years the Leaf has squeaked out incremental gains. Does that help put GM’s under-promise and over-deliver extra 38 miles over the bar achievement in perspective?
To test whether the Bolt’s 238 miles was attainable, drivers from various media were sent on a 240-mile road trip from Monterey to Santa Barbara, Calif., and without recharging en route all completed it, with a few finishing with over 30 miles potential remaining on the Bolt’s range meter. Does that mean a careful driver might get 270 miles from a Bolt in slower driving? More?
While not being positioned as a mega-distance conveyance for traveling salesmen, or for long road trips, the Bolt EV has radically upped the range-comfort zone for those looking for zero emission city/suburban cars at this cost level. Many people may be able to go a few days between charging instead of the typical daily plug-in with today’s lower-range EVs.
Stupendous Energy Efficiency
Earlier this year GM’s engineers were brimming with pride for the efficiency of their powertrain, and this week’s revelation of estimated EPA MPGe numbers of 128 city and 110 proclaim that was not idle boasting.
To put this in perspective, the Bolt now lays claim to best highway MPGe of any EV with range over 81 miles. It’s only slightly bested by the the BMW i3 with the original 22-kWh battery and 111 MPGe. The new 33 kWh i3 highway rating drops to 106.
Remarkable is the Bolt’s frontal area is larger than that of a Tesla Model S, yet the 60 kWh Model S is rated for 20 miles less range.
The larger, more-powerful Model S weighs much more which can’t help. And, the Model S may actually surpass the Bolt’s range with its superior aerodynamics at higher speeds than the EPA tests at, but preliminary test results from the aforementioned magazine drivers indicate the Bolt is not too shabby at all.
Respectable Speed and Performance
Although a city/suburban runabout designed to make the Prius look like a gas guzzler, the Bolt is being praised for satisfactory road handling and spritely acceleration from a stoplight – and on the highway.
Its 0-30 mph time from its 200 horsepower, 294-pounds-feet motor and single-speed transmission with two drive settings is as quick as 2.9 seconds, and its 0-60 is reportedly 6.5 seconds. Its 50-75 mph passing power speed is 4.5 seconds.
Top speed is only 91 mph, so it appears the emphasis was on legal performance, and thus usable get-up-and-go power.
As for cornering, the battery in floor lowers the center of gravity for the 3,580-pound hatchback to let it drive and feel normal – not boring. Low rolling resistance tires do not help the ultimate lateral acceleration g-force potential – though enterprising drivers willing to forego some efficiency may opt to change out to stickier aftermarket rubber.
Even as delivered however, while not a hot hatch by any stretch, nor likely to best what Tesla’s Model 3 is hoped to deliver, the Bolt should not disappoint.
Excellent Space Utilization
GM developed flat in-floor battery “skateboard” chassis in the 2000s ahead of others which used the concept first including Nissan, BMW, and Tesla, and now GM is using the smarter design in the five-passenger Bolt for maximized interior packaging.
A flat vehicle floor without obtrusive transmission tunnel or battery occupying valuable space is basically like a palette for designers to build the car of their ideals upon.
The automaker says its 16.9-cubic feet of cargo space tops that of the 16.6-cubic feet Honda Fit which itself is the next best thing to Dr. Who’s Tardis for being big on the inside while small on the outside.
Details like thin-frame seats also lend to the roominess in an interior with a mix of trendy but functional design elements.
Outside dimensions are 102.4-inch wheelbase, 164 inches long, 69.5 inches wide, 62.8 inches high. Its 94-cubic-feet of passenger space plus the 17-cubic-feet of cargo room add to 111 cubic feet which technically just makes the cut for mid-size by volume under EPA rules.
GM just says the car is two sizes bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.
Final pricing for the Bolt EV is not set although materials previously sent out by Chevrolet indicated $37,500 which would bring the car to $30,000 assuming a $7,500 federal tax credit. Potential state incentives also stand to reduce the outlay, as could in due time, dealer discounting.
Though not as easy on the eyes as is a sleek Tesla – in the estimate of many observers – the main takeaway here is the Bolt is as close as one comes today to a comparative steal in the range-for-dollar metric.
The 60-kWh Model S starts in the upper 60s, so if the objective is to have an electric car with maximum range, the Bolt could be had two for the price of one – though again, it is not being positioned against the Model S, or even the promised Model 3.
Actually, a more-even comparison for the Bolt would be to the Leaf, and other EVs in the sub-$40,000 range – and even a bit over that if including the BMW i3.
Compared to Leaf with the 107-miles range at just over $35,000 before incentives and discounts, the Bolt has more than doubled what the EV buying dollar can get in this echelon.
Nissan says it has a competitive second-generation Leaf in store but has not indicated when it will get here, and meanwhile 238-miles EPA rated range for the Bolt for $30,000 – or $37,500 MSRP – otherwise blows anything else in this league out of the water.