Today at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit General Motors signaled its “commitment to electrification” with the Chevrolet Bolt EV Concept.
There have been reports this will be GM’s answer to the likes of the Tesla Model 3 when it is launched, but Chevrolet communications representative Michelle Malcho reiterated “it’s just a concept.”
That it is, but the advanced crossover which leverages lessons learned from the Volt and Spark EV – and promises a range of 200 miles and price of $30,000 after $7,500 federal tax credit has its options open – and GM otherwise has said it will be competitive in the plug-in market.
“The Bolt EV concept is a game-changing electric vehicle designed for attainability, not exclusivity,” said General Motors CEO Mary Barra. “Chevrolet believes electrification is a pillar of future transportation and needs to be affordable for a wider segment of customers.”
Minimizing front and rear overhang and with a flat floor inside and open and airy environment, up close the design thesis looks inviting and like a futuristic sci-fi vehicle that is here now, and nearly ready to be driven.
“Form and function have never meshed so well together,” said Ed Welburn, vice president, GM Global Design. “No compromises were made when it came to aesthetics and the elements that contribute to the Bolt EV concept’s range, resulting in a unique proportion that’s sleek, efficient and obviously a Chevrolet.”
The cabin features lightweight, slim-architecture seats on exposed aluminum pedestals to make for a floating effect. The minimalist center console “floats” too, suspended from the front seats.
“The Bolt EV concept’s interior is intended as a sanctuary, with materials and technologies that reinforce the airy ambience and help contribute to the vehicle’s overall efficiency,” said Welburn. “It also incorporates technology in a subtler and simpler manner, for a more soothing driving experience – particularly in busy, urban environments.”
Also featured is a 10-inch-diagonal color capacitive-touch screen, with interface via a “concept Bolt EV Connect app” which allows the projection of all the application and other smartphone data onto the screen.
The concept can be accessed via a smartphone with the concept Bolt EV Connect app, which is designed to:
• Allow a smartphone to perform as the key fob
• Allow ride-sharing management, including reservations, vehicle location, digital key and even payment processing via the smartphone
• Incorporate the concept automatic park-and-retrieval technology, which enables the driver to exit the vehicle and tell the Bolt EV concept to park itself – and when errands are completed, the Bolt EV concept can be summoned to return to the owner’s location.
Presently the “200 mile range” thanks reportedly to advanced LG Chem batteries is far above the 81-mile range of a BMW i3 which it most closely resembles, and the 84 miles of a Nissan Leaf.
Tesla aims to produce its Model 3 sedan which also may be priced from the middle 30s and offer the exact-same nominal “200 mile” range.
That GM is posturing for more plug-in cars is evident. Interviews with high-ranking engineers have yielded that GM knows there will be room in the marketplace for more vehicle designs besides this “crossover” which is akin to a hatchback in actuality.
When GM might actually build these it is not saying, though an insider report has said by 2017 – when Tesla will have its Model 3 and Nissan may have a gen-2 Leaf with comparable range would be a reasonable guess.