Two days ahead of the six year anniversary of the launch of its first range-extended electric car, General Motors has delivered its first three production Chevrolet Bolt EV electric cars customers from Fremont California, Castro Valley California, and Portola Vally, California.
Announced earlier today, the three deliveries are not only the start of a new chapter for General Motors’ turbulent electric car story but also mark the first time it’s been possible to buy an electric car from a mainstream automaker with a range in excess of 200 miles per charge and a price tag of well under $40,000 before incentives.
Offered in two trim levels — the entry-level Chevrolet Bolt EV LT for $37,495 and high-end Chevrolet Bolt EV Premiere for $41,780 (before incentives or extras) — offer an EPA-approved 238 miles of range per charge of their 60 kilowatt-hour next-generation LG Chem lithium-ion battery packs. Capable of seating five and carrying just under 17 cubic feet of cargo, the Bolt EV features a 200 kilowatt electric motor that can accelerate it from 0-60 mph in 6.5 seconds, and while it comes as standard with a 7.2 kilowatt on-board charger can also be built to order with a CCS quick charging port capable of adding 90 miles of range in just 30 minutes at a compatible CCS station.
But while the first Chevrolet Bolt EVs are now in the wild, don’t expect to be able to drop in at your local Chevrolet dealership and drive away in one just yet. As with the Chevrolet Volt range-extended EV launch back in late 2010, GM is expected to slowly ramp up deliveries over the coming few months, with a few initial deliveries in each of GM’s key Bolt EV launch markets of Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay area and likely Portland, Oregon.
Then as weeks pass, more and more dealerships will begin to receive Bolt EVs, with full volume deliveries not expected to start in earnest until the start of 2017, when a national rollout will commence with a handful of markets in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States. Full-rollout will not happen until mid-2017, when customers will be able to order their car at Bolt-certified dealerships across the U.S.
With the 200+ mile range barrier passed, we expect many Bolt EV owners to be first-time electric car drivers who had previously discounted electric cars as not having enough range to meet their needs. But interestingly, the first three Chevrolet Bolt EV owners are no strangers to electric vehicles and low-emission cars.
The first, William “Bill” Mattos, is a retired law enforcement officer from Fremont California — the same place where Tesla Motors currently builds its Model S and Model X electric car and where it will soon build the Chevrolet Bolt EV’s biggest competitor, the Tesla Model 3 Sedan. Having already owned a Chevrolet Spark EV and a second-generation Chevrolet Volt range-extended EV, Mattos is no stranger to plug-in cars.
As to why he’s the first customer? Given how vocal GM has been in chasing Tesla with the Bolt Ev in recent months, we think his hometown is no coincidence.
The second customer, Bobby Edmonds, is a software developer from the Castro Valley, who has traded in his BMW i3 for a Bolt EV. Saying that range was one of his primary decisions to switch, Edmonds says he hopes to be able to make long distance trips in his Bolt EV far more comfortably than he could in the i3.
The final brand-new Bolt EV owner is Steve Henry, a commercial real estate broker from Portola Valley, whose job involves a reasonably high amount of driving. Coming to the Bolt EV from a Toyota Prius hybrid, the Bolt EV is Henry’s first plug-in car, but not the first electrified vehicle he’s owned.
Beating the Tesla Model 3 to market by what we’d expect to be ten months or more should help GM scoop up a large number of first-time electric car buyers who have yet to place a deposit down on a car, but it should also help GM steal a sizeable chunk of Nissan’s current customer base, many of whom are unhappy with the lack of progress Nissan has made on electric vehicle range in recent years.
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