GM is touting linear higher speed power for the Chevrolet Bolt EV – and Opel Ampera-e sibling – and they could prove quite satisfying for drivers wanting more on the highway.
While not quite in “Ludicrous” league, in a recent press announcement, Opel of Europe said the Ampera-e will accelerate from 50-75 mph (80-120 km/h) in 4.5 seconds. While this data point may fly over some peoples’ heads, 4.5 seconds is competitive with a list of internal combustion cars posturing with testicularity, replete with big engines and road presence.
Obviously GM’s new EV is not pretending to be a hot electric hatch, but its engineers appear to have set a new high-water mark in highway passing and cruising power for EVs in this class. This 80-120 km/h metric is otherwise important for folks wanting the potential, and Chevrolet similarly emphasized last week that the Bolt EV has a strong powerband above electric cars like the Nissan Leaf, etc.
On paper, the Bolt EV/Ampera-e have 200 horsepower, 294 pounds-feet of torque, which is strong but not earth shattering for the 3,580-pound car.
How the power is delivered compared to conventional cars is entirely different, however, for the FWD Bolt/Ampera-e with single-speed gear-reduction drive, and full torque from 0 rpm. A large 60-kWh battery lets the engineers tap into the electrons for more oomph on demand.
Lower power EVs are by contrast compromised more toward conserving energy at higher revving, greater-aerodynamic drag highway speeds. The last thing engineers want to do is tip the balance so that usable range will too easily plummet when they only have maybe 62-110 miles to work with. The Bolt’s battery however is big enough to supply the power to keep going strong at highway speeds and the motor and inverter are able to take advantage of it.
Chevrolet has also said the Bolt EV will run from 0-30 mph in 2.9 seconds, and Opel is boasting 0-31 mph (0-50 km/h) in 3.2 seconds, as illustrated by a whimsical video it threw together.
The Bolt/Ampera-e however may not quite match 0-30 times from a Chevy Volt running in EV mode. Chevrolet claims 2.6 seconds from naught to 30 for the new Chevy Volt, so the Bolt appears a tad slower at launching from a stop but the Bolt wins the race at higher speeds. It’s also still quick compared to non-Tesla EVs. In fact, the Volt was clocked last year by Motor Trend with a 0.1 second quicker 0-30 mph than a Model S non-Performance 85.
Notable also is the Bolt EV’s 0-60 time is somewhere under 7 seconds, according to Chevrolet, but this has not been specified.
Good At All Legal US Speeds
The takeaway is the Bolt is in good company off the line, and appears like it will do better than others in its class on the highway. Opel says the top speed is 150 km/h (93 mph), Chevrolet has previously said 91 mph, and while not blazing, this is sufficiently above all posted U.S. speed limits.
To give a grasp of what it takes for internal combustion cars to pull 80-120 km/h (50-75 mph) in a comparable time, an informal video posted by a driver of a 300-horsepower Dodge Charger illustrates:
The car in manual mode is on the boil with tach above 5,000 rpm to do 4.4 seconds, just 0.1 seconds quicker than the Bolt/Ampera-e’s 4.5 (provisionally stated) time.
GM’s EV will meanwhile be relatively quiet doing the same performance, though certainly working hard as well.
Another video indicates an informal test of a BMW i3, which does the 80-120 run in 5.8 seconds.
Another guage of the Bolt/Ampera-e’s new benchmark time is shown by Car and Driver’s 2014 test of competitive EVs from 50-70 – not quite to 75, and that last 5 mph could be the hardest. In its test, only the Chevy Spark EV came close at 4.7 seconds. For others, 50-70 mph was accomplished as follows:
2013 Fiat 500e – 6.2s
2014 Ford Focus Electric – 5.9s
2013 Honda Fit EV – 5.3s
2013 Nissan Leaf – 6.9s
2013 Smart ForTwo – 7.5s
These again are 50-70 mph times, and the Bolt/Ampera-e’s 50-75 mph in 4.5 seconds may be most clearly appreciated in this light.
Compared to a number of other powerful gas cars just for the sake of giving broader perspective, the Bolt EV’s time is still competitive. If left in fourth gear, the likes of Porsches, Maseratis, and Jaguars can’t do much better in this test of highway passing torque without need to downshift to a higher-revving gear.
A list from Supercars.net – from 2007, but featuring some potent vehicles nonetheless – shows times for this metric of 80-120 km/h (50-75 mph).
Subaru Impreza WRX STi [2006, 280 hp, Sport Auto] – 4.4s
Audi RS4 Avant [2000, 380 hp, Sport Auto] – 4.5s
Jaguar XKR [2006, 416 hp, Sport Auto] – 4.5s
Mercedes-Benz CL65 AMG [2004, 612 hp, Sport Auto] – 4.5s
Porsche 996 GT3 RS [2004, 381 hp, Sport Auto] – 4/6s
BMW M6 Cabriolet [2006, 507 hp, Sport Auto] 4.6s
Porsche 997 Carrera S Kit [2006, 381 hp, Sport Auto] – 4.6s
Lotus Exige 240R [2005, 247 hp, Sport Auto] – 4.6s
Maserati GranSport F1 Spyder [2006, 400 hp, Sport Auto] – 4.6s
Porsche 997 GT3 [2006, 415 hp, Sport Auto] – 4.7s
Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG [2005, 612 hp, Sport Auto] – 4.7s
A downshift to third gear would shave these times, in which case these much-more powerful cars – posing more dominantly than GM’s humble electric commuter car – would likely all beat it. And, sprint times do vary in any case depending on the tester and the road, but the Bolt/Ampera-e look like a step upward for sure.