Chevy Bolt is Sharp End of the Spear For GM’s Push Toward Electrification

Never mind those spy shots of quickly photographed camouflaged Chevy Bolts that circulated last week, this week General Motors put together a brief video and photos of the same with clear intent to stoke enthusiasts’ expectations.

With 55 test mule Bolts and 1,000 engineers tasked, the Chevy Bolt is well underway in its development, and GM is signaling there is more to come in its electrification of the automobile – while not telling a whole lot more than we already knew.

Perhaps GM is refining its act at leveraging the power of enthusiasts’ own desires, tendency to conjecture, and build excitement for a product? Perhaps beating the Tesla Model 3 is not all the automaker wishes to gain from Tesla, itself a master of free media and buzz for its message and products?

SEE ALSO: What We Know About The Chevy Bolt
Not sure, but since the Bolt Concept’s revelation in January to the soon-after announcement of the car’s production plans, along with leaks to the media and unconfirmed rumors about production date and battery and more, the mystery is unfolding.

More solid news is the 55 hand-built camouflaged mules – some from Korea, some from the Orion assembly plant where they’ll be produced – are undergoing testing.


The shakedown procedures intimated by video show Chevrolet has its bases covered – suspension, DC quick charging, noise, vibration, harshness, drivability – everything a consumer wants no worries over.

Unconfirmed however is the production date, though it’s rumored it could be as soon as next fall for 2017.

Bolt Chief Engineer Josh Tavel, said the images Chevrolet is showing now are indicators of what’s to come.

“Effectively these are the bones of the car that’s going to be the production Chevy Bolt,” he said.

With 1,000 engineers tasked to the project, GM Executive Chief Engineer Pam Fletcher said the vehicle is essentially being fast tracked.

Who will make the batteries, or what size they will precisely be remains unknown – as is whether they are indeed in a skateboard type chassis under the floor. These, along with a number of other key details, are not confirmed, though it’s been strongly hinted batteries could come from LG Chem.


Also unknown are particulars of the DC fast charge prominently being shown being undergoing “testing.” The video shows a rated 500-volt, 175-amp unit, but what the actual speed of charge will be for an undoubtedly larger battery than in a Nissan Leaf or Spark EV is one more missing piece in the puzzle.

But the upshot of the slickly produced mini video with graphics somewhat reminiscent of a Bourne adventure film and aerial photography shot by a drone is GM has it under control.

SEE ALSO: GM’s Potential BMW i3-Beating Bolt Hails from Down Under
And, Chevrolet implies in a statement, it is feeling its oats having since January shown four class-leading electrified vehicles in four different vehicle segments.

These are the 2016 Volt, the Bolt EV, the 2016 Malibu Hybrid, and the future-tech Chevrolet-FNR Concept shown at the 2015 Shanghai Motor Show.

SEE ALSO: Here’s Why The 2016 Malibu Hybrid Could Launch GM’s New Hybrid Era

Last January 2014, wrote a lengthy piece that ran also on the forum titled “How Committed Is GM To Vehicle Electrification?”

It summed the collective consensus among enthusiasts that evidence for GM’s “commitment” was thin in light of a limited-availability Chevy Spark EV, a Volt marketed as a “niche,” according to GM, the high priced, poorly selling Cadillac ELR, and no full hybrids.

Compared to the likes of Tesla, Nissan, and even Toyota with its hybrids, people were saying GM had some product holes.

Well that’s all changing, and fast, says the automaker, noting its “commitment” to electrification:

“Chevrolet is bringing electric vehicles to the masses. The brand is committed to providing technology solutions that simplify customers’ lives and make driving fun.

Chevrolet has made a significant commitment to electrification for consumers around the world, as witnessed by the introduction of the 2016 Volt, Malibu Hybrid, FNR Concept and production commitment to the Bolt EV.

“Chevrolet’s advanced EV technology is designed to simplify the lives of our consumers,” said Alan Batey, president of General Motors North America. “With four new vehicles introduced since January, Chevrolet continues to prove its commitment.”


We stand corrected. With five instances of the word “committed” or “commitment” in three paragraphs, GM is clearly showing it is committed.

And, the Bolt is ahead of Tesla’s Model 3 which to date has not been shown, and GM is not thin on engineering talent, manufacturing know how, global resources, and the message now is it aims to focus these further.

Meanwhile, not short on fans itself, Tesla has said its entry level EV is to be priced from “$35,000″ – ostensibly less than the GM-estimated $37,500 Bolt (both before $7,500 federal tax credit).

Both automakers are touting more than 200 miles range and the Model 3, says Tesla, is due for reveal next year, and sale in 2017.

On that note, before the next wave of evolved EVs even get here, the new de facto benchmark of “200” miles range is shifting upwards, not just by Tesla, but also by GM and its Bolt and Nissan and it’s next-gen Leaf.

The hint by all three has been over 200 miles, even as much as 250 miles or more.

To date, the Chevy Bolt looks like it will produce its over-200 mile target car first.