The Opel Ampera-e shares the same underpinnings as the Chevrolet Bolt EV

Confirmed: 2017 Chevrolet Bolt Has 60 kWh Battery Pack, 150 Kilowatt Electric Motor

Last week at CES 2016, General Motors CEO Mary Barra unveiled the official production version of the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV long-range electric car. Closely based on the Bolt EV concept car we saw last year at the 2015 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, it features an always-on Internet connection, an estimated 200-miles of range, and comfortably seats four adults (five if the three in the rear are good friends).

But while GM was keen to let journalists experience the Chevy Bolt EV first-hand last week on a small enclosed test-track at CES, it kept the details of the car’s custom-designed electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack a closely-guarded secret, only confirming a sub 7-second 0-60 time and an expected EPA range in excess of 200 miles per charge.

Last week GM CEO Mary Barra unveiled the production Chevrolet Bolt EV. Today we learn about its battery pack.

Last week GM CEO Mary Barra unveiled the production Chevrolet Bolt EV.

This morning in Detroit on the opening day of NAIAS 2016, GM finally shared those all-important technical specifications, confirming that the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt will come with a 60 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack and a 150 kilowatt electric motor.

Battery first. Built and supplied by its strategic partner LG Electronics, the massive 60 kilowatt-hour nickel-rich lithium-ion battery pack that will power the Chevrolet Bolt EV is twice the capacity of the 30 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack currently being offered by GM’s nearest rival Nissan in its 2016 Nissan LEAF SL and 2016 Nissan LEAF SV models. Made up of 288 discrete cells arranged in 96 cell groups, ten modules and five sections, the entire battery weighs just 960 pounds (435 kilograms) in weight and uses a brand-new cell chemistry which GM says requires a smaller active cooling system than previous-generation LG Chem packs. It can provide 160 kilowatts of instantaneous power, says GM, enough to provide a full 150 kilowatts to the Bolt EV’s electric motor and leave an additional 10 kilowatts for ancillaries.

The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV's 60 kWh nickel-rich lithium-ion battery pack.

The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV’s 60 kWh nickel-rich lithium-ion battery pack.

Although GM hasn’t given an official energy density figure for the pack, simple math suggests a battery energy density of around 137 watt-hours per kilogram. That math however would be wrong, since we’re guessing the quoted battery weight from GM includes ancillary hardware such as battery management modules and power electronics within the finished battery pack itself. Since those extras can significantly increase pack weight, we’d suggest the actual energy density of the cells used is far closer to 200 wh/kg than rudimentary math would suggest.

GM says that each battery cell is 3.9 inches (100 mm) high and 13.1 inches (338 mm) wide, allowing the battery pack to be shaped to fit underneath the floor of the Chevrolet Bolt to maximize cabin space. In keeping with good design practices and appropriate safety protocols, the entire battery pack is located within the wheelbase of the Bolt EV, with a bulge towards the rear of the pack where the rear seats are. This bulge allows GM to fit in extra cells but also to house some of the power electronics. In total, the battery pack takes up 285 liters (10.06 cubic feet) of space.

With such a large number of cells squeezed into a small space, GM says the Bolt EV uses a liquid active thermal control cooling system to keep the battery operating at peak efficiency, but also notes that the improved cell chemistry “allows the Bolt EV to maintain peak performance in varying climates and driver demands.”

Specific battery density is not clear, but we'd estimate it's pretty near to 200 wh/kg.

Specific battery density is not clear, but we’d estimate it’s pretty near to 200 wh/kg.

Those eager to hear about the Bolt EV’s charging options will be please to know that  a 7.2 kilowatt on-board charger is included as standard, allowing around 50 miles of charger to be added to the Bolt EV in two hours from a standard Level 2 charging station. Meanwhile CCS quick charging is optionally available using the SAE Combo connector, adding up to 90 miles of range in 30 minutes in ideal charging conditions.

This suggests a 50 kilowatt CCS charging system is being used on the Bolt EV, which will be a little disappointing to those hoping that GM was going to use a more powerful 100 kW CCS charging connector. Given the lack of 100 kW CCS charging stations in the wild however, we can forgive GM for choosing this option, since we’d guess few will want to use the Bolt EV for trips in excess of 300 miles in a single sitting — and those who will will most likely want to take a full hour off to have a meal or stretch their legs before getting back into the car anyway.

In line with other automakers, GM will be offering an 8-year, 100,000 mile limited warranty on the battery pack, the details of which have yet to be announced.

Onto the motor. Mounted at the front of the car, the Bolt EV’s electric motor has been designed specifically by GM based on its previous experience with electric motors in the GM EV1, Chevy Volt range-extended electric car and Chevy Spark. Built by LG Electronics under its partnership with GM on the Bolt EV, the motor is rated to deliver a maximum power of 150 kilowatts to the wheels at up to 266 pound-feet of torque. This not only helps the Bolt EV accelerate to 60 mph in less than 7 seconds, but also helps it carry around the extra weight of that 60 kWh battery pack.

The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV motor can produce 150 kW of power and 226 pound-feet of torque.

The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV motor can produce 150 kW of power and 226 pound-feet of torque.

As with other electric cars on the market, there’s a single-speed fixed-ratio gearbox, which GM says gives a final drive ratio of 7.05:1.

Controlling the motor is what GM calls “Chevrolet’s first Electronic Precision Shift system.” While that may sound like a gearbox, it’s actually a fancy name for an electronic motor controller system which sends electronic signals to the vehicle’s drive unit to manage power and torque delivery based on drive mode selection and accelerator position and handles parking pawl and gear selection electronically.

That same system, when used in conjunction with the ‘Low’ drive selector and regenerative paddle mounted on the left-hand side of the Bolt EV’s steering wheel, also makes single-pedal driving possible. User-adjustable regenerative braking — which was a feature of the original EV1 thanks to its ‘coast’ button — makes it possible for drivers to control how much regenerative braking is being used at all times, ensuring that on accelerator liftoff all usable energy is recaptured by the Bolt EV’s electric motor rather than wasted through friction braking.

In city driving scenarios, experienced drivers should be possible to stop the Bolt EV using the user-adjustable regenerative braking without even touching the brake pedal. GM notes however that the system “does not relieve the need to use the brake pedal altogether.”

What do you make of the new Bolt EV?

What do you make of the new Bolt EV?

As we explained last week, GM is committed to bringing the Bolt EV to production this coming October as a 2017 model-year car, with a price tag starting from $30,000 after U.S. government incentives. Now we know more about the car, we’ll have to wait until October to find out if it manages to come in on target with range, price and production schedule.

What do you think of the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV? Are you tempted by it? Or would you prefer a larger vehicle with similar specification?

Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.


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  • vdiv

    Prefer larger vehicle, with better specification… And a used one at that may be comparatively priced by the time the Bolt EV is out.

  • Stephen Noctor

    60 kWh usable?

    • vdiv

      Total, usable is probably 20% to 30% less.

  • Ad van der Meer

    Fast charging is optional on the Bolt: “Bolt EV also features an optional DC Fast Charging system using the industry standard SAE Combo connector. ”

    • Chris O

      That’s what I call mixed signals. On the one hand GM presents something that blows the competition out of the water, on the other hand it doesn’t offer as standard one of the prerequisites to popularise EVs: quick charging.

      GM sends many mixed signals like that probably signalling a company that’s torn between its ICE core business and its need to innovate and tends to settle for the compliance dictated middle ground.

  • Quote “comfortably seats four adults (five if the three in the rear are good friends).” GRIN!

    This is contrasted with the Volt which can comfortably fit 5 people if they are all in the same family, and one of them lost the coin toss.

    • dm33

      Rear seat is MUCH bigger than the Volt. It is reasonable for a 5th passenger. The Volts 5th seat is a joke. It’s a seat in name only.

  • I wonder why GM felt the need to outline the 150kW (motor) + 10 kW (accessories) available from the battery? This seems quite a bit lower than the 285 kW motor power available in the Tesla Model S60 with a similar sized battery. Sure these two cars have entirely different battery cell chemistries, but the difference in available power output must also be due to using cheaper power inverter, thinner power cables, smaller motor and gears to save money. So again, why draw attention to how much power they can draw from the battery rather than repositioning the conversation to focus on cost saving measures in the drive train as the reason… I have to presume GM/LG could have spent more money on the drive train to harness more of the battery power output. Let’s face it, Tesla spent a lot of engineering effort to make their drive train high power capable to give the “wow” effect to buyers so they switch to Tesla vs staying with slower gas powered competition.

    • KIMS

      Actually, isn’t there somewhat about a storm around Tesla for using the motor rating to derive “horse-power” while willfully ignoring the fact that the battery and power sub-system is not able to supply the motor with enough juice to actually reach the specified performance of the electric motors? I remember hearing about a bunch of upset Norwegian owners that feel cheated by not getting the actual performance that was used in marketing and the Norwegian consumer protection agency stepping in forcing Tesla to change its marketing claims etc. because of it?

      My point is, just because Tesla has a motor rated for “X” doesn’t mean it will ever reach that or that the power sub-system matches that… (My memory of that story could be skewed though and I don’t have time to look it up again now, so my comment could be null and void!)

    • patrickmcswain

      The S60 is 329HP SAE method (245kW), and $71,000 stripped. It is not, nor ever has been 285kW. But yes, it does have a better power to weight many other cars, including the Bolt.

      But they are two different classes. The only thing similar between the two cars is the interior volume.

      For $71k, there are dozens of cars that are a lot faster than a S60.

      There is no “wow” effect today from a performance sedan that can barely hit 100 mph in a 1/4 mile. A six cylinder base Camaro does that now.

  • Marcus Kornmehl

    This is the EV I’ve been waiting for all these years! Compact for city driving yet spacious interior. Hatchback – tick. Regen breaking shift paddle – tick. Quick off the line. Good range – meaning a fully electric model is more than adequate for weekly commutes. And most importantly (given the number of odd-ball looking cars major manufacturers have sprouted in the last few years) – this car is bloody HOT!

    I hope it comes to Australia – it would be a shame is it didn’t given it was designed here.

  • dm33

    When will it be available nationwide? What are the rollout plans?

    Sounds great. Hope it makes it to NC someday.

  • Chris O

    Great job LG! Quantum leap jump in specs for the price range. Also kudos to GM for providing a compelling body style around LG’s powertrain and car electronics technology.

    The car might have been larger though. GM prides itself on the low overhangs but that just means the car could have had more luggage space for its wheelbase. The car does deliver on the promise of great interior space for size though that comes with the BEV concept which sets it apart from Volt, because those PHEV powertrains don’t have the same powerdensity and packaging potential. Volt is still the winner for those who often venture beyond the Bolt’s range I think for lack of proper quick charge support for a large battery car like the Bolt.

    GM definitely sets the new benchmark here, its competitors have the choice to shape up or discount to the bridge the value gap. Impressive though it might be, Tesla should not have a very hard time eclipsing the Bolt. Its battery tech has significantly better powerdensity, is presumably at least as cost effective and is supported by the right charging infrastructure. Also I fully expect Model 3 to offer more interior space than Bolt, but we’ll know more about that come march when the prototype is introduced.

  • Farmer_Dave

    What is all that stuff in the front? Unlike a Tesla with its front trunk space, the Bolt (unfortunate name, BTW) has a bunch of what appears to be machinery that could wind up in the passengers’ laps in a front end collision.

    I thought BEVs were supposed to be mechanically simpler.

  • Michael Van Steenburg

    I love it! Finally GM is climbing back to compete as a technological leader once again.

  • Jay Buchholz

    I love it! I’m on my second Volt now, and while I love them both, when this lease is up I’m ready to try something different. With 200 miles of range I’m confident making the plunge into pure electric. Unless Nissan comes up with a Leaf that’s a formidable competitor to the Bolt (range, price, features), this will likely be my next car. (I mean, I’d love a Model 3 sight unseen but my money is on them not releasing it en masse in ’17.)

  • CCS as an option is small error on GM’s part. They will soon realize (as did Nisan) that most customers will chose the quick charge option so they may as well make it standard in future models.

    The bigger, maybe even huge, mistake not covered here (but you did mention it on TEN) is that GM will not be sponsoring the growth of the CCS network.

    I’ve been looking forward to test driving the Bolt when it comes out and cross shopping it with the Tesla Model 3. Now I’m not so sure I’ll even bother booking the test drive. If the Model 3 looks to be all that it is promised to be (and SC is available) then there is no reason to look anywhere else for my 200+ mile EV.

    Mrs Barra. You have spent billions developing this impressive vehicle. Are you really going to risk its future by not ponying up a few million on CCS expansion? WHy not join BMW and Nissan in building out rapid charging? You don’t have to go it alone.

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