Chevrolet’s 200–Mile BOLT aims to throw the Electric Vehicle Evolution/Revolution into overdrive

Nov 08, 2016

The three important facts you need to know about the Bolt are: 1.) it will be capable of traveling 200 miles or more on a single charge; 2.) it will cost around $30,000 after a $7,500 tax deduction ($2,500 additional dollars more will be subtracted via a rebate issued to California drivers); and 3.) Chevy claims it will likely be available in late 2016/early 2017.  If the rollout happens as expected, Chevrolet will beat Tesla to the punch, delivering BOLT to the masses before Elon Musk’s Tesla Model 3 hits the market. Musk has said he plans to produce the Model 3 in large quantities and make it design-appealing and affordable to families. Chevrolet plans to do likewise, manufacturing as many BOLTs as VOLTs, or more, if the market demand is there. This will allow far more American car-buyers, especially families, or couples expecting to raise a family, to purchase an affordable EV with greatly extended range capabilities.

What this means is that by sometime in 2017 or early 2018, car buyers will have at least three choices of EVs with a range of 200 miles: the Tesla Model 3, the Next Generation Nissan Leaf, and the Chevrolet Bolt. Tesla, Nissan and Chevrolet have demonstrated the greatest commitment to electrification and advanced EV technology. Sales of the Tesla S, Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt have proven this with dramatic sales results; these three cars are the most popular electric vehicles. Sales of EVs in the USA and the world are exponential, meaning they double or triple every year. Realizing this, these three car manufacturers are embracing the EV Evolution/Revolution and going all out to promote their electrics. GM’s CEO, Mary Barra says the BOLT EV concept demonstrates General Motor’s commitment to electrification and the capabilities of advanced EV technology: “Chevrolet believes electrification is a pillar of future transportation and needs to be affordable for a wider segment of customers.” Taking a swipe at Tesla, Barra says the BOLT is designed for “attainability, not exclusivity.”

Chevrolet’s game changer will use some novel, futuristic, high-tech features to enhance range: BOLT will crunch info concerning the driver’s driving history, the weather outside, the terrain, and the time of day, to manage and predict range requirements. Bolt’s navigation system will optimize routes to conserve range and, as is true in all EVs, will display the closest charging stations. Though Los Angelenos won’t be able to drive to San Francisco without stopping for a charge, BOLT will get them to San Diego, Palm Springs and Santa Barbara without pausing for a battery boost.

Drivers will be able to pick preferred driving styles and operating modes: choices of daily commuting or longer weekend cruising will adjust accelerator pedal mapping, vehicle ride height and suspension tuning in order to save battery power and use the electrical system in the most efficient way.

The low-energy Bluetooth in BOLT will always be on and searching for your smartphone. When you get within 100 feet of your game changing vehicle, it’ll pair you up and turn on the car’s lights; helpful for finding your EV in a dark parking lot. This same Bluetooth will allow owners to pair as many as 10 devices, plus the OnStar 4G LTE WiFi hotspot will support up to 7 devices simultaneously. BOLT’s computer system will allow ride-sharing management, including reservations, plus digital key and even payment processing via a smartphone.

If that’s not enough high-tech for you, Bolt will incorporate conceptual automatic park-and-retrieval technology: using a phone app, the car will have the ability to park itself once the driver has gotten out and departed. Not only that, when the driver’s errands are completed, the same App will summon the car to drive to where the driver is located. With this auto-valet function, the car can theoretically be driven into a garage and then retrieved upon command.

BOLT’s center dash will have a 10.2-inch touchscreen that runs the new MYLink infotainment system. Rather than forcing drivers to hunt through endless menus, MyLink will display a lot of useful info in a single place. For those keen to download Eco and/or other popular widgets, you’ll have a customizable screen to do that.

More BOLT high-tech: when you click the shifter in reverse, the touchscreen will display a split-screen showing a standard rearview camera view plus a virtual bird’s eye view of the car called “Surround Vision,” digitally created by splicing images of four external cameras into one. Flip the toggle behind the rearview mirror and it’ll display an 80-degree rearview from the camera.

Inside BOLT, the floor will be flat. No battery tunnels will stick up to take away valuable legroom. The seats are slightly elevated as a result. BOLT designers gave the exterior a crossover roofline to add headroom. How long will BOLT’s battery system take to charge? Nine hours using a 240 charger if you’re down to zero. Since most Americans drive fewer than 40 miles per day, the nine-hour charge is something they’ll rarely face. And of course, charging at night for nine hours is a snap. Using a DC Fast Charger, BOLT will replenish 90 miles or more in under 30 minutes.

The interior of BOLT was designed to be a roomy space for four that feels expansive rather than cramped. Slim-architecture seats mounted on aluminum pedestals create a floating effect. Ed Welburn, VP of GM Global Design says, “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. It also incorporates technology in a subtler and simpler manner, for a more soothing driving experience – particularly in busy, urban environments.”

BOLT’s unique proportions, which involve no front or rear overhang, plus the lightweight materials used – including aluminum, magnesium, carbon fiber and woven mesh – compliment the design, drive down curb weight, contribute to range and push the envelope for crossover aesthetics way into the future. An advanced nano-composite rear hatch, a wraparound rear window and a full-length, frosted glass roof with faceted design elements will flood the interior with lots of natural light and provide the BOLT EV with a distinctive space-age look.

GM has pulled out all the stops to create the first mass-produced, affordable, 200-mile electric vehicle. If they can deliver BOLT by the end of 2016 or early 2017, before Tesla’s Model 3 and Nissan’s Next Generation Leaf are ready, they’ll have ZERO competition. BOLT will be the only EV on the market with a 200-mile range and a price tag that’s easy on the wallet.