It’s on now! Companies like Ford, Chevrolet, and Nissan have been shoving electric vehicles down our throats for the past few years. However, the Focus Electric, Spark EV, and Nissan Leaf can only travel 80 to 90 miles on a charge before they run out of juice. While that may be enough for those that simply commute to work or putter around town, many people with “range anxiety” want a bit more reserve power for longer trips, and vehicles like the Tesla Model S are simply way out of the price range of average Americans.
That’s where the Chevrolet Bolt comes in, which is the next logical step past the Chevrolet Volt (even the second generation model) and Spark EV. Shown today in concept form, the Bolt represents GM’s best effort yet in making EVs appealing to a mass market. Unlike the Spark EV, which is only available in California and Oregon, the Bolt will be available for purchase in all 50 states. And whereas the Spark EV has a driving range of 82 miles, the Bolt will be able to travel 200 miles on a charge.
Although the Bolt is being shown only in concept form at this time, many of the features shown will likely make the transition to the production model (although some will likely be including in pricey option packages). The dashboard is dominated by a central, 10-inch touch screen display that manages MyLink infotainment duties, while energy efficient LEDs used for both the headlights and the taillights. Interestingly, drivers will be able to use their smartphones as the vehicle’s key fob, and ride-sharing functionality will be built-in (including reservation management, vehicle location, digital key, and payment processing via a Bolt EV Connect smartphone app). GM is also working to deliver an automated “park-and-retrieval” system similar in concept to the i3 EV ActiveAssist technology we’ve seen from BMW.
“We have made tremendous strides in technologies that make it easier and more affordable for Chevrolet customers to integrate an all-electric vehicle in their daily lives,” said Barra. “The Bolt EV concept demonstrates General Motors’ commitment to electrification and the capabilities of our advanced EV technology.”
I have to admit, the Bolt is extremely attractive to my eyes, if a bit on the cutesy side. It manages to avoid the oddball looks of the Spark EV and Leaf while still looking a bit futuristic. I could also easily see it replacing one of our two vehicles, as the 200-mile range is plenty for us for city travel and enough to make occasional longer trips within the state.
The Bolt is expected to launch — in production form — during 2017, at which time it will face stiff pressure from Tesla’s upcoming Model III. However, the Bolt will be priced at around $37,500, dropping to an even $30,000 after a federal tax credit. The Model III, on the other hand, will be priced at between $35,000 to $40,000 after federal tax credit.