It might be more than a year away from entering into production, but General Motors is already working hard to promote its 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV electric car.
The first electric car from GM to promise a range greater than 150 miles per charge, the Chevrolet Bolt EV was unveiled as a concept car earlier this year at the Detroit Auto Show, boasting at least 200 miles of range and a $30,000 target price tag after incentives.
Less than a month after its reveal, prompted by an overwhelming response from both fans and the motoring press, GM committed to bringing the Bolt EV to market in October 2016 as a 2017 model-year car, confirming that it would be built at the Orion production facility in Orion Township, Michigan.
With such a tight time frame to play with, GM is eager to share its progress thus far, releasing a video demonstrating how far testing has come on some fifty prototype Bolt EV electric cars since the model was first unveiled at the start of the year. It shows various prototypes undergoing everything from acceleration tests to rapid charge cycle tests, heat tests, acceleration tests, stopping tests and of course, handling manoeuvres.
All of them appear to have been carried out on GM’s test Millbrook test track facility, where vehicles can be tested on specially-constructed private roads before hitting the public highway.
At the moment, these cars are being hand-built at the both the Orion, Michigan facility and a GM factory in South Korea, indicating that GM is a long way from tying down final vehicle specifications ahead of pre-production test runs next summer. But according to GM engineers talking to GreenCarReports and other automotive press at a special North America GM Press launch for the all-new 2016 Chevrolet Cruze yesterday,GM is impressed with how well the car is performing thus far.
GM’s prime goal for the Bolt EV, said Pam Fletcher, Cheif Engineer for all GM’s electrified vehicles, was to “[make] electric cars approachable to all, not just the elite.”
As GreenCarReport’s John Voelcker notes, that’s a very thinly veiled dig at Tesla Motors, which despite planning a 200-mile ‘affordable’ electric car for 2017 in the form of the $35,000 Tesla Model ≡ has to date only sold high-end luxury electric cars. While a high-end, fully-optioned Tesla Model S P85D costs more than $100,000, even its entry level model, the Tesla Model S 70D, gives no change from $75,000.
At the moment, the engineering team working on the Chevrolet Bolt EV remain tight-lipped on the specifics of the plug-in vehicle, but several members told the assembled press that they believe the Chevrolet Bolt EV will be a true ‘game-changer’ for the electric car world.
Sold nationwide across the U.S. and likely to appear in other markets too, the Chevrolet Bolt EV will be the first time that General Motors has mass-marketed a fully-electric car to customers across the U.S. Its previous all-electric car, the Chevrolet Spark EV, is currently only available in Oregon, California, and Maryland, although we note GM has plans to expand that later this year.
Voelcker notes too that GM isn’t even discussing the battery pack specifications that will give the Chevrolet Bolt EV its claimed 200+ mile range, but notes with a smile that Fletcher admitted that “LG Chem has been a very valued and trusted supplier.”
That company previously went on the record last year to say that it had a high-capacity, next-generation, long-range electric car battery pack ready for production. Given GM’s past involvement with LG Chem, we think finding that pack driving the Bolt EV is something of a given.
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