GM Engineers Used Lunar Rover Tech When Designing Chevy Bolt

General Motors has been tapping into engineering experience that goes back to astronauts driving its Lunar Rover on the moon.

GM’s Chevrolet brand paid tribute Thursday to engineers who’d designed the all-electric Lunar Rover. It had been driven by Apollo 15 astronauts on the moon during a trip there in July 1971.

It may be a bit of a stretch, but the automaker said that engineering experience transferred over the 238-miles per charge Bolt. At a starting price of $37,500, it’s a mere fraction of the Lunar Rover’s $38 million price tag.

Back in 1971, the engineering team was able to create a “revolutionary” electric motor drive system, plus a suspension suitable to driving on the moon, mesh wire wheels, and a driver controller that could be used while astronauts were wearing gloves.

“When our team began engineering for the Lunar Rover, there were so many unknowns, including varied terrain, extreme temperatures and the effect of reduced gravity,” said now retired project chief engineer Ferenc Pavlics. “We pushed the boundaries of automotive technology and worked hand in hand with the astronauts on the vehicle’s design.”

Chevrolet said it had to tap into its electric drive train experience, and to think differently about the technology – as was the case when working with NASA years ago.

“The Bolt EV required a new architecture to upend the status quo on electric driving,” said Michael Lelli, vehicle chief engineer. “We drew on our deep electrification expertise to provide Chevrolet customers the first long-range, affordable electric car.”

The Bolt has the Lunar Rover beat in a few areas. The 238-mile range is much better than the 57 miles the Lunar Rover was able to travel on a single charge. Only two astronauts could take the space buggy while five passengers can ride in the Bolt. Liquid thermal management is available now in the Bolt, but the Lunar Rover had to be air cooled in a setting where there was no oxygen.

Chevy has been trying to tap into the latest high-tech functionality as standard features on the Bolt – something needed to bring in first-time EV buyers.

SEE ALSO:  GM Engineers Discuss the 2017 Chevy Bolt’s Powertrain

Standard features include electronic precision shift, one-pedal driving, a Regen on Demand steering wheel paddle, and a 10.2-inch-diagonal color touchscreen. Premier models also get Surround Vision Camera and a Rear Camera. All of the trim levels get 8 year/100,000 mile battery and propulsion system limited warranty (whichever comes first).


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