Tuesday, January 19, 2016
The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt: 200 Mile Range, Under $30K, All in a Small Package
By Mercedes Lilienthal
General Motors formally unveiled details about the new all-electric Chevrolet Bolt last week. This four-door EV will deliver an impressive 200 mile range for a price tag of under $30,000 after a $7,500 federal tax credit. Wait, what? That many miles for that little dough? To get that many miles on a single charge, you’d have to buy a Tesla Models S 70, which would run you nearly twice that price. Finally, an EV with more than 90 miles of range for the masses. GM hopes many people will see it, realize it, like it, and buy it. With its practicality and comfortable nature, GM is betting on success.
The anticipated Bolt will have a 101.2-inch wheelbase and and overall length of 164-inches—5-inches longer than a Chevrolet Sonic hatchback. It will have a 60-kWh battery pack and an electric powertrain that produces 266 ft/lbs of torque and the equivalent of 200 hp, while doing 0-60 in under seven seconds. GM says the car was designed around a 960 lb. battery pack which can be charged to 80% in only 60 minutes on DC fast charge. It will have a charge time of approximately 9 hours on 240V. That is about 22 miles of range every hour of charge.
Keep in mind the 200 mile range is more than double most EVs, sans the much more expensive Tesla. This means I could leave my home in Portland, OR and travel to wine country in Yakima, WA, or drive to Seattle or deep to the southern part of Oregon’s Willamette Valley on a single charge. For under $30K? Wow. It really makes getting groceries and running around town easy vs having range anxiety every time you venture out. No more multiple stops when going shopping, and less reliance on fast-charge stations. Portland to Seattle? One charge? Madison to Chicago? Yes.
Another interesting feature is the one-pedal driving feature. According to Chevrolet, regenerative braking has become more than just a tool to boost range, it’s also transformed into a feature that can provide an improved EV driving experience. The Bolt EV features a new regenerative braking system that has the ability to provide one pedal driving.
“Interviews with EV enthusiasts indicated their desire for one pedal driving capability on the Bolt EV. One pedal operation boosts the thrill and uniqueness of EV driving,”said Josh Tavel, Lead Engineer on the Bolt.
Through a combination of increased regenerative deceleration and software controls, one pedal driving enables the vehicle to slow down and come to a complete stop without using the brake pedal in certain driving conditions.
When operating the Bolt EV in “Low” mode, or by holding the Regen on Demand paddle located on the back of the steering wheel, the driver can bring the vehicle to a complete stop under most circumstances by simply lifting their foot off the accelerator, although the system does not relieve the need to use the brake pedal altogether.
Operating the Bolt EV in “Drive” mode and not pulling the paddle while decelerating delivers a driving experience where usage of the brake pedal is required to stop.
Inside, this all-electric ride boasts a standard 10.2-inch diagonal center display screen with an 8-inch diagonal driver cluster. The Bolt learns your actions and adapts to keep its efficiency in check and running at optimum levels. It also has gamification to help you drive more efficiently. This EV includes great ways to connect your mobile device, whether you own an Apple or Android. You can check your calendar as well as navigate with Google Maps—a necessity with today’s tech savvy crowd.
Along with a progressively techy interior, the all-new Bolt has safety features like available forward pedestrian alert, forward collision alert, side blind zone alert and cross traffic alert. Add to those 10 air bags, an advanced high-strength steel frame, as well as automotive crash response and OnStar, this car is fully prepared should one get into a precarious situation. Also available are a rear wide angle camera and a cool surround vision camera (similar to the Nissan Leaf’s camera), allowing you to see a bird’s eye view of your car and its surroundings on the screen. Who needs a passenger anymore to help you back out of a tight spot?
The looks of the Bolt are pretty intriguing. I can’t wait to see it in person. My honest first impression when I saw exterior pics? If a BMW i3 had a baby with the old Toyota Matrix—out pops a cool four-door small car with loads of goodies, room for five passengers, and carrying on the all-electric gene. Et viola! An upgraded little hatchback that has a lot more bells and whistles (and range) than the Volt or Spark EV, but is still a comfy subcompact that has all its ducks, er, horses, er watts in a row. I’m really looking forward to this one.