With all the talks surrounding the imminent arrival of Tesla’s highly anticipated Model 3, GM was eager to remind us that if it’s an EV you want, one with 300+km of range, you need not wait another year or perhaps even two. In fact, you can get one right now if you so desire.
The kind people at GM organized a brief drive event to get familiar with the Bolt. Although I did drive it, I was more interested in the information surrounding the car. A full review is forthcoming and with it will come a real test of the Bolt’s mettle.
You may, or may not know this but GM’s been at forefront of alternative energy vehicles for a very long time, way before many of today’s proclaimed frontrunners. Admittedly, the road has been a bumpy one with a hit or two and a number of near complete misses. This time, the Bolt is an absolute grand slam.
So far, this year, 850 new Bolts have been delivered to new owners. Of the lot, 45% are plated in Quebec, which is impressive. More impressive still is that of the over 10,000 Volts sold in Canada, 69% call the Belle Province home. This clearly demonstrates a number of things including the fact that consumers trust GM, and their technologies. To support this, GM tells us that of the 100,000+ Volts sold in North America, there are no known cases of a failed battery pack where capacity had dropped below 65% within the 8-year 160,000 km warranty. This bodes well for the Bolt’s long-term reliability.
The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt is simple car, and not a crossover as described by GM. It is a small compact 5-door hatchback with room for a five and a proportionally capacious boot. The overall shape is just as functional aerodynamically as it is attractive.
The interior is 21st century from top to bottom with the heart being a 10.2” center-stack located touchscreen coupled to an 8” drive information center. The degree and sheer amount of information available on these displays can be overwhelming but for many EV drivers, knowing the what, when and how of the powertrain’s goings on is crucial.
The cabin is intended for comfort with generous amounts of storage and comfortable seats. The level of standard kit is high in the base version while the Premier adds front and rear heated seats and heated steering wheel, surround vision and rear camera mirror. The Bolt is clearly designed for family duty with a touch of luxury and extra comfort for all.
One of the keys to the Bolt’s true success is its 76kg (167 lbs.) drive unit located up front and combined to 60kWh lithium ion battery which consists in 288 cells. The battery pack is part of the chassis, located in the floor and below the rear seat. The Drive Unit produces a total of 200 horsepower and 266 lb.-ft. of torque. These numbers play a huge roll in the Bolt’s desirability factor. By comparison, a VW e-Golf’s stats are 134 horsepower and 214 torque and a Hyundai Ioniq serves up 118 horsepower and 218 lb.-ft. of torque.
Not only can all that power permit the Bolt to reach 100 km/h in about 7 seconds, or at least 2 seconds less than any other EV this side of Tesla, but it crushes the competition where range is concerned. Rated at 383 km, the Bolt can cover more than 75% more ground on a full charge than the Nissan LEAF, Ford Focus EV, and Kia Soul. In the range anxiety fight, the Bolt is the best medicine.
It’s not all perfect, obviously, as there are some problems. All of this battery and power must be replenished and if you plug it into your 110-volt socket at home, it’ll take a little more than two days to get a full charge, from empty. The 28kWh battery pack in the Ioniq needs only 24 hours from empty. The proportions are about the same for Level 2 charging at 220V and Level 3 charging. So you might go farther and faster in a Bolt but the price is more patience at the “pumps”.
And the final issue is in fact pricing. You might have guessed that with more power, range and features comes a heftier sticker price. At $43,095, the Bolt is between $7,000 and $11,000 more expensive than other “comparable” EVs, with or without incentives. For all of the above, the home charger is an extra fee but in most cases, as with the Chevy, the cost can be financed with the car.
As mentioned, the Bolt is available now at can be purchased at 211 Chevy dealers (about 50%) across the country.
Note: At the time of writing this story, details such as pricing on the Tesla Model 3 for Canada were not available hence why it does not appear in the text.