Just one year ago at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, General Motors unveiled a brand-new, fully-connected long-range electric concept car called the Bolt EV. It was, said GM CEO Marry Barra, a hint at what a future long-range electric car from Chevrolet would be like.
Following incredibly positive feedback from both the media and electric car owners alike, GM committed to bringing the Chevrolet Bolt EV to market in double-quick time, confirming its intent to bring the Bolt EV to market as a production car as early as late 2016.
On Wednesday during a Keynote address at CES 2016, Barra revealed what the production 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV will look like for the first time, as well as detailing some of the advanced technology features built in to each and every model.
Talking to a packed audience at the Westgate Hotel and Casio just off the famous Las Vegas Strip, Barra called the new long-range electric car “the first EV that cracks the code of long range at an affordable price,” promising that it would launch with a real-world range in excess of 200 miles per charge and a price tag of around $30,000 after U.S. government incentives.
As we predicted a few months ago, the production Chevrolet Bolt EV loses some of the high-tech, futuristic vibe of last year’s concept car. But while its body design and interior has lost its all-glass roof, glass tailgate and individual rear-seats, it has gained a whole lot of practicality.
More importantly, the overall design and shape of the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV is only subtly different to last year’s concept.
While the Bolt EV may have lost some of its futuristic vibes however, it has lost little in terms of connectability and on-board tech.
Alongside an always-on Internet connection via GM’s OnStar service, the Bolt EV features a comprehensive 360-degree camera system which gives the driver a birds-eye view of the car to aid parking at low speed. Similar in operation to Nissan’s around-view 360-degree camera system, GM says it will prove invaluable to customers who live in busy cities and find themselves regularly undertaking tight parking maneuvers.
Alongside this bird’s-eye camera system, the Bolt EV also features an innovative rear-view mirror which displays a wide-angle video feed from a rear-facing camera mounted on the rear of the car, as well as an all-new telematics system with Bluetooth LE that GM says will make it easier and more intuitive to both remotely manage the Bolt EV from afar as well as sync to a smartphone and prepare for the daily commute.
Performance and range haven’t been officially quoted, but GM has promised 0-60 will take less than 7-seconds, making it slightly faster than the BMW i3 on paper. Range meanwhile, is promised to be “in excess of 200-miles.” Recharging takes place via a Combo CCS socket mounted just in front of the driver-side door, offering Level 1 ’emergency’ charging capabilities at 110-volts, 240-volt Level 2 charging at home, and rapid DC quick charging capabilities to make 200+ mile long-distance trips practical in a single day.
While GM wasn’t keen on discussing specifics of the motor or battery pack at this time, we can tell you — from previous discussions with GM — that the Chevrolet Bolt EV features an LG-Chem high-capacity lithium-ion battery pack, built with the South Korean firm’s latest high-capacity cells. While exact kilowatt-hour capacity is still undisclosed, GM was keen to note that the Bolt EV’s battery pack is fully integrated into the vehicle chassis between its 102.4-inch wheelbase.
Placing the battery pack underneath the cabin floor not only gives the Bolt EV excellent road handling capabilities thanks to a low centre of gravity, but it also allows GM to keep the floor of the Bolt EV’s cabin flat, providing room inside the cabin for five people.
Front and rear, the upright body style of the Bolt EV has enabled GM to create a spacious cabin, with a ‘floating’ center console with 10.2-inch touchscreen display which GM says has enabled it to minimize the amount of space the dashboard takes up. Discrete climate control buttons sit below the center console, while a fully-customizable 8-inch instrument cluster behind the multi-function steering wheel allows the driver to choose how and where pertinent information is displayed. As you might expect, an always-on Internet connection via OnStar keeps both car and owner connected via a smartphone app, and GM says its Bolt EV will be given regular over-the-air software updates to add functionality and improvements over time.
While we’re on the subject of steering wheels, GM has followed driver feedback from the first-generation Chevrolet Volt and Chevrolet Spark EV, implementing the same user-controllable regenerative braking system as found in the second-generation 2016 Chevrolet Volt. Via as paddle mounted on the left-hand side of the steering wheel, drivers can control the amount of regenerative braking on accelerator lift-off, maximizing energy efficiency according to terrain and driver skill. When placed in ‘Low’ mode — equivalent to the ‘engine braking or low-range mode of an automatic car — GM says full one-pedal driving will be possible.
At 94.4 cubic feet, the Chevrolet Bolt EV has a far larger interior passenger space than either the Nissan LEAF or the Tesla Model S, making it ideal for longer-distance road trips with four (or maybe even five) adults on board. But while the passenger space is large, there’s one area where the Bolt EV is lacking: cargo space.
At 16.9 cubic feet, GM is keen to note that the cargo space behind the rear seats in the Bolt EV is larger than both the Honda Fit and BMW i3. And if we’re honest, the BMW i3’s 15.1 cubic feet is often a concern we hear from those considering a BMW i3. But while the Bolt EV’s 16.9 cubic feet and positively cavernous load-space with rear seats folded flat, it’s load-bay volume is substantially smaller than the 24 cubic feet offered by the Nissan LEAF. While it may have the Japanese car beaten on range for now, we’re guessing the smaller load area could be a deal killer for those with young families or pets.
If we’re honest however, this particular negative point seems the only con we can see right now, especially if GM makes good on its promise of delivering the Bolt EV at a $30,000 price point after incentives and manages a range in excess of 200-miles on the EPA test cycle.
Sadly, due to a cancelled flight to our next appointment of the week, we were unable to get any time behind the wheel of the Chevrolet Bolt EV on the specially-prepared test track GM had set aside for the purpose following its official unveiling. Our friends from GreenCarReports were more fortunate, and report the limited low-speed first drive of a pre-production engineering prototype of the 2017 Bolt EV was an overall positive experience, with the engineering test Bolt EV delivering a responsive and balanced ride.
As always, we’ll give you a more in-depth review of the Bolt EV as and when we get a chance to test it for ourselves, but in the meantime we’re curious what you think of this new long-ragne car from GM. Which cars do you think it will compete against in the marketplace? What do you hope the final price and range will be? And will you be lining up to buy one?
Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
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