Bolt remains the benchmark for what an EV should offer in 2019

Jul 23, 2019

With its inspiring 238 miles of range – many drivers repeatedly obtain 260 plus miles –and relatively inexpensive price compared to other EVs in its class, the Chevrolet Bolt remains the benchmark for what an electric vehicle should offer in 2019. During the first 5 months of the year, it was the fourth best-selling electric in the USA, and, unlike many other EVs that are sold in just a few states, Bolt is sold in all USA states. So far in 2019, its sales were eclipsed only by Tesla’s Model 3 and Model X, and the Toyota Prius Prime. It actually beat out the Tesla Model S.

By John Coulter, Current EV CMO, July 2019

Between 900 and 1600 Bolts are sold per month in the USA. Bolt is considered a major pioneer among electric cars because of its affordability, practicality, and long driving range. Caranddriver.com says: “Until another EV emerges that checks all the same boxes, the Bolt remains the best everyday electric car on the market today.”

At its introduction, the front-motor, five-door all-electric subcompact hatchback was named the 2017 Motor Trend Car of the Year, the 2017 North American Car of the Year, and an Automobile Magazine 2017 All Star – and was listed in Time magazine’s Best 25 Inventions of 2016.

GM started to design the Bolt in 2012, with a team of 180 people in its Korea studio, as a B-segment size, with its own unique platform, meaning the car was designed from the floor up to accommodate its battery technology. The EPA classifies it as a “small station wagon” with less than 130 cubic feet of interior volume. GM refers to it as a crossover – the more common nomenclature used for 4-door passenger vehicles with a rear hatchback door/window. Cargo space with seats up is 17 cubic feet, and 56.6 cubic feet with seats down.

But you don’t drive a Bolt for its cargo space, you drive it for lots of other excellent reasons, a few of which include: its head-turning, beautifully sculpted proportions and eye-catching details; its 10.2-inch diagonal color touch-screen and 8-inch diagonal driver cluster; its Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility; its 2019 NHTSA 5-star Overall Vehicle Safety Score; its choice of modern or classic tablet-like displays of real-time vehicle info such as battery levels, range estimation, charge settings and climate controls; its solid, robust performance in cities and on the highway; its EPA MPGe combined rating of 119; its max horsepower of 200 and 5-passenger seating capacity; its fast 9.3h at 220V charging time; and its comprehensive 8 year/100,000 mile warranty on all Battery and Electric Components.

The car is downright fun to drive. And for many of its fans, the best part of the Bolt experience is no longer having to pay for smelly, CO2-creating fossil fuel. The U.S. Department of Energy (www.fueleconomy.gov), has calculated you’ll save $5,000 in fuel costs over 5 years compared to the average costs of driving a gas car for the same period.

There are two Bolt trims: LT ($37,495 MSRP), and Premier ($41,780 MSRP). Standard LT features include: Electronic Precision Shift, Michelin self-sealing tires, a 10.2-inch color touch-screen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, proximity-key entry and push-button start, 4G LTE with mobile Wi-Fi, and a Rear Vision Camera. Premier includes those features and adds: a Rear Camera Mirror, Surround Vision and a Heated leather-wrapped steering wheel. The LT model offers two desirable, affordable option packages: a Comfort and Convenience Driver Confidence package (blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, rear parking sensors). A DC fast-charging capability can be added.

Bolt’s doors, tailgate, and hood are aluminum. The driver can adjust the level of regenerative braking as the accelerator pedal is lifted. The front seats are asymmetrical to maximize cabin volume while accommodating airbags. GM sends software updates over-the-air, to preventing the need for maintenance visits, which are rare to begin with, since there is very little to maintain on EVs.

Bolt’s 60kWh battery weighs 960lbs, accounts for 23% of the car’s value, and is composed of 288 flat “landscape” format cells bundled into groups of 3 connected in parallel, and 96 groups connected in series to form the pack. A 200 hp (149 kW) Interior Permanent Magnet electric motor provides the EV’s power. Bolt accelerates from 0 – 30 mph in 2.9 seconds and 0 – 60 mph in less than 7 seconds, and has a top speed of 91 mph. The electric motor is integrated with a single-speed transmission and differential, to form a single modular drive unit that connects directly to the front axles.

Despite its height of nearly 63 inches, Bolt’s center of gravity is under 21 inches above the ground, which yields surprisingly stable handling during cornering. The low center of gravity is due to under-floor mounting of the battery pack. Bolt uses the now-common hatchback low-drag body design, which employs sweeping curves leading to an abrupt back end, further enhancing the car’s handling. Thanks to a thermal management system, the under-car battery doesn’t need air-cooling; with the underbody enclosed, the airflow is streamlined and Bolt’s aerodynamics are improved.

As to what’s new on the 2019 Bolt, here is Car and Driver’s explanation: “The Bolt receives minor updates for 2019 that improve the user experience. The charge-termination feature now has more selectable levels at which you can choose to stop charging. This helps reduce charging costs when only a small amount of range is required. Chevy also revised its Low driving mode to keep the Bolt from moving when stopped and the seat belt is unbuckled. And, as in previous model years, if the door is opened in this scenario, the car will automatically shift into park. The touchscreen now offers separate buttons for air conditioning and heat. New paint colors include Green Mist, Slate Gray, and the eye-popping Shock—which looks like lime-green alien acid. Inflating the tires is easier with a tire-fill alert that announces when the correct pressure is reached.”

Should you lease or buy a Bolt? Current EV suggests leasing for many reasons. A Current EV representative can provide you with the details.

Car and Driver says Bolt has: “Zippy acceleration, affordable fast-charging option, a firm brake pedal and a fun-to-use brake-regen paddle. The Bolt’s electric motor provides instantaneous response to accelerator inputs and ample low-end torque that lets you scoot ahead when the light turns green. Responses are less immediate at highway speeds, but the electric Chevy still makes passing and merging on the highway a cinch. While it takes about nine hours to fully charge the Bolt’s battery using a 240-volt outlet, the fast-charging option can add roughly 90 miles of range every 30 minutes. With a composed ride and plenty of power, the Bolt will challenge whatever negative preconceptions you might have of electric cars. It rides firmly without introducing harsh impacts into the cabin. Steering is quick and accurate. Modest pricing and impressive driving range give Chevy’s practical hatchback mainstream appeal.”