Chevy Bolt — Deeper Dive (+ Video)

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GM CEO Mary Barra introduces the Chevy Bolt | Image Credit: Kyle Field

Just before CES officially opened this week, Faraday Future showed off its first concept to the world. It was arguably the most hyped launch in the history of electric vehicles, with teasers surfacing at a regular frequency leading up to the big reveal. At the event, Faraday Future reiterated over and over that “we move fast” and seemed proud of the concept that will likely move to production.

Two days later and Chevrolet is in the CES spotlight with the biggest EV event of CES 2016 — the official reveal of the production version of the Chevrolet Bolt (which we live blogged). In stark contrast with FF, GM took an extremely low-profile approach to get the word out about the Bolt with only a few public appearances, next to no advertising… just putting in the blood, sweat and tears (I’m sure there were a few) and getting the car built as fast as possible.

And with good reason — at the time, the Tesla Model 3 was expected to be the first affordable 200-mile-range electric car and GM was nowhere close to having a competitor. Fast forward to today and Chevy seems to have pulled a rabbit out of a magic hat, revealing the production version of the Bolt AND announcing that it will be available before the end of 2016, which is extremely impressive and shows just how aggressive Chevy has been developing the breakthrough car and putting plans in place to get it to market.

Chevrolet’s continued progress in bringing forward-looking electric cars to market shows just how much it believes in EVs as the future of personal transportation. Riding on the tails of the success of the original Volt, the Bolt continues the electric transformation in what seems an earnest effort to embrace EVs (finally!). Having lost the trust of many early adopters after crushing its early EV1 program in the 1990s — literally — many are still skeptical but are gradually warming to the idea that GM is serious about EVs. Official production volumes for the Bolt are still a question, as limited availability could quickly mute the excitement and stifle sales — we have heard estimates of 30,000/year, initially.

Spy shots spilled the beans on the final look of the Bolt but the nuts and guts stayed the same as the concept, which are really the exciting bits of the car — especially the range at 200 miles and the price at $30,000 after rebates. GM was keen to highlight these points with bold banners proclaiming the good news many times throughout the presentation.

Chevy Bolt | Image Credit: Kyle Field

The Bolt isn’t just a stripped down Aveo with an electric drivetrain — this thing carries the innovation from the Volt forward and even raises the bar. The Bolt includes a wide-angle rearview camera that gets pumped through the multimedia display when the vehicle goes into reverse, which is fairly typical these days but kicks it up a notch by giving drivers the option to pull the feed into the rearview mirror, overriding the normal reflective surface with the video feed.

Spicing it up further, the Bolt comes with LTE connectivity and is the first EV to feature compatibility with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, which should satisfy users from both tech clans. “The Bolt EV is capable of using the latest mobile app technology to enable car sharing, advanced GPS routing and gamification, all designed to enhance the ownership experience now and into the future,” said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. The car will make use of the LTE connectivity to offer EV-specific navigation, which will integrate compatible charging stops as needed, a la Tesla with the automatic inclusion of Supercharging stops along a route.

Chevy Bolt charging port | Image Credit: Kyle Field

For charging, the Bolt carries along standard charging rates, proclaiming that it will regain 80% of a charge in just 60 minutes — or roughly the same DC fast charging rate comparable EVs get today. The Bolt packs the Chevy standard SAE Combo charging port, so drivers can tap into any J1772 charger to top up or step it up to a DC fast charger using the full SAE Combo plug. It is worth noting that a 60-minute fast-charging session is double the current fast-charging session time… which makes sense for a battery that is twice the size (with more than double the range).

This change will also make “fast charging” awkward until charging service providers make adjustments, as DC fast charging is typically billed per 30-minute session and stops thereafter (on popular networks). This means Bolt owners leveraging fast-charging will have to pay double the rate, which could still make financial sense. An additional complication is that owners will have to head back to their car after the first 30-minute session to restart the charging for another 30 minutes. This is something service providers can/will address with logic as part of the initial communication between the car and the charging station. I envision it sounding like this: “Hey, how’s it going. Good. I see that you’re a Bolt, right? Yeah, man. Cool, I’ll hook you up for a cool 60-minute session instead of the normal 30. Sweet, man — thanks.”

As far as the charging speed goes, the official Bolt website claims a typical J1772 (Level 2 AC) charger will add 25 miles of range per hour. Using the miles per kWh efficiency of the Leaf (4.1 mi / kWh), that would be a rate of 6 kWh which is just under the typical 6.6kW charging rate. As manufacturers typically state “best case,” this supports the Bolt having a standard onboard 6.6kW charger.

Bolt Charging at Home | Image Credit: GM

The batteries for the Bolt are in a skateboard layout, meaning that they are arranged in a flat layer at the very bottom of the car. This keeps the weight distribution even, keeps the center of gravity low, and, importantly, keeps the batteries from protruding into the cabin — whether under the seats, in an unnecessary tunnel down the middle, or otherwise. It is not clear what type of battery cells or what layout they are in, but Chevy used pouch cells with the Volt, so that is a likely candidate.

Finally, GM will be introducing gamification at a later date to encourage owners to track and compete to be the most conservative with their energy usage. This has been a somewhat unexpected trend with the Volt and it appears that GM wants to get Bolt owners engaged in some good old-fashioned competitive conservation as well.

Bolt Mules on the track | Image Credit: Kyle Field

After the main show, Chevrolet brought two Bolt mules out to a nearby track for some road time. These were ~80% complete, vs the Bolt shown off on stage, which was a fully built production version. The throttle of the Bolt was snappy and easily made the tires chirp as it zipped around the track. Below is a video showing the Bolt zipping around the short track assembled in the CES North Plaza.

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Kyle Field

I'm a tech geek passionately in search of actionable ways to reduce the negative impact my life has on the planet, save money and reduce stress. Live intentionally, make conscious decisions, love more, act responsibly, play. The more you know, the less you need. As an activist investor, Kyle owns long term holdings in Tesla, Lightning eMotors, Arcimoto, and SolarEdge.

Kyle Field has 1638 posts and counting. See all posts by Kyle Field

124 thoughts on “Chevy Bolt — Deeper Dive (+ Video)

  • Seeing the video helps to get a better sense of how it looks in person. Actually looks really good, imho. Not a Tesla Model S, but sharp look that is also normal enough to make mainstream people feel fine buying it.

    Also, I just realized — no more orange Bolt pictures when we write about the Bolt!

    • Is there the possibility of an adaptor that would allow supercharging on the Tesla network? My understanding is that they’re DC high voltage so it should theoretically be possible.
      In which case, it might well make sense for GM to make a deal with Tesla in the meantime, until such time as they can get their own network built out, or a viable model for large-scale commercial networks emerges.

      • Engineering wise, definitely, might not be cheap, but it could definitely be built.

        Practically, no way Tesla would ever go for it, the Super Chargers are a major strategic advantage for them, they have no reason to share.

        • Tesla has already offered to share its Supercharger system with any car manufacturers that are interested.

          The only requirement (AFAIK) is that other companies use the same economic model with the costs folded into the selling price of the car. Tesla is not interested in a ‘hourly rental’ or metered charging system.

          • Yes. He made this available years ago. Almost shocking to me that no company has partnered yet, but 1) they haven’t had long-range EVs, so not much help yet anyway, 2) they typically seem to have too much pride.

            But, yes, eager to see which European company this is. Most seem to be guessing Aston Martin.

          • Yeah. Remember, the founders of Tesla were already rich. There’s no way they could spend more money on “lifestyle” if they had it.

            Their goal is to move personal transportation off petroleum. And that does not mean that Tesla needs to be the premier vehicle manufacturing company, or that it even survive. Think of Tesla primarily as a catalyst whose purpose is to greatly speed a reaction which would have happened, just slower.

          • They had another requirement: that the car be able to charge at the same rate as Teslas. They don’t want other cars blocking the stations without using their full capacity. But that means, from a practical standpoint, the car needs a 200-mile battery (which the Bolt has) plus super-high-current wiring (which the Bolt apparently does not have).

      • I believe it’s more challenging than that — eveee can surely chime in on this, but I was under the impression the automaker had to design the car’s charging capabilities in a certain way to be compatible with Tesla’s Superchargers, and sounds like GM hasn’t — but I may be wrong on both points.

        GM should definitely partner with Tesla, imho, but think it is too prideful to do so despite the invitation from Tesla.

        • You might be right, but they may have wanted to cut enough corners to slide in under Tesla on price, while still having a 200mile range. I would not be shocked if Tesla did not attempt to go below a medium priced vehicle in the next few years. When you go there, you really have to make a lot of cars.

        • Musk listed the requirements:

          1 must charge at a rate equal to or faster than existing Tesla. This is to insure that one slow charging car would cause a backup of cars waiting to charge.
          2 That they share in the cost of operating the charging stations. This would require keeping track of how many Tesla’s verses other cars are using the chargers so that each automaker pays for their fair share. Shouldn’t be hard to make an app for that.

          Tesla has made all of their patents freely available to anyone so it should not be hard to make a car with a compatible connector and charging electronics.

        • To be able to use the Supercharger, the battery has to have exactly the same nominal voltage as the Tesla. That’s because the supercharger connects directly to the battery, bypassing any on-board converters. So the supercharging has to be a design feature to be applicable.

    • I like the cab forward sloping hood look. I don’t like the rising waste-line/funky rear pillar blackout treatment. They’ve taken styling cues from the latest Opel Astra here. I prefer the more conventional station wagon rear of the 2005 Honda Fit on this type of vehicle.

  • Man, if only this had access to Tesla’s Supercharger network. Would be an absolute home run. But at least a double or triple. (Apologies for non-North Americans for the baseball metaphor — I’m not a fan of the sport personally, but makes for good metaphors.)

    • I’ve always liked “He was born on third base and thought he hit a triple”

  • Because apparently charging stations are reefer-smoking hippies from the seventies…

    • Say what?…

      I think I’m missing some background knowledge there. 😛

      • Quoting from the article:
        “I envision it sounding like this: “Hey, how’s it going. Good. I see that
        you’re a Bolt, right? Yeah, man. Cool, I’ll hook you up for a cool
        60-minute session instead of the normal 30. Sweet, man — thanks.””

        The Cheech and Chong Charger. Coming soon to a whole foods market near you.

        • I thought the same thing and then realized Kyle probably vapes away writer’s blocks. Whatever it takes, just keep it coming fast, Kyle!

          • Wow, man. That’s not my style but glad I was able to tell the story the way it sounded in my head 🙂

          • Make no mistake, I appreciate yours and your coworker’s diligence. Dissemination of accurate information is important business in climate salvage.

  • I’m concerned about the recharge speed, 60 minutes for 80% is too much. 30 minutes and you could drive for a couple of hours, stop for half an hour and then do another couple of hours, this would seem to me more like a natural way I would want to drive on a longer trip.

    • Probably closer to 3 hours at 75 MPH, certainly that long at lower speeds. The lowest range Mod3 will do 215 miles at 65 and 183 at 75.

      I doubt there are many places where one can cruise at 75 MPH for three hours straight.

      • I actually predict 2 hours in this but I still think it’s a great step. Rationale: if it gets 201 miles at say 55mph with climate control off, then I’m estimating 150 miles at 75mph and climate control running. (I don’t think the 200 mi will be good at 65mph). Today, driving like that will run out the battery on a leaf in 50 miles.

        For some reason I have tons of 75mph cruising speed experiences nearly everywhere I go, except for the northeast US with too much congrstion and also anywhere during commute time, of course.

        • I drive 2 hours at 78mph twice a week all winter long to get to the ski resort. I think that’s typical middle class beach/mountains thing. That’s why this level rocks!!! Without it, the EV is a no go.

        • Freddy, there are places like west Texas and Montana where one can drive 300 miles at 75 MPH but those are not the norm for the US. I’ve never seen an urban area that one can cruise through (on the interstate) at 75 MPH. Unless it’s between 1 AM and 5 AM. And there are few places in the US where urban areas are 300 miles apart.

          • Mmm… I have to disagree with you. I-10 in Houston (smack dab down town) traffic flows at between 75 and 80 outside of rush hour (where it’s about 20-25 mph…)

            Sure, the actual ‘in city’ part has a 60 mph speed limit, but no one follows it. It also turns to 65 about 5 miles out of downtown and hits 70 before my parents house (which is 20 ish miles). Not sure if it turns to 75 before or after their place, but the fact remains, traffic is going 75 well before that…

          • Otis, you’re picking out a few places in the US where one can drive at higher speeds for longer periods of time. I stated that there are some.
            I really doubt that one drives 75 from SF to LA. I’ve made that trip a few times and every time I’ve made it there is enough congestion to slow down traffic for parts of the journey.

            Don’t confuse hitting 75 or 80 at times with driving 75 or 80 the entire distance.

          • Well, I don’t think I’m cherry picking as most places I can think of in the deep south or west of the mississippi either have 75 mph speed limits or regularly flow at those speeds… (Granted, I’m not well versed on the Pacific Northwest, but it holds up through California and .)

            And I’m not saying it peaks at 75 or 80 in Houston – I’ve driven from the center of downtown all the way out to Sealy without slowing below 75, and had many pass me at 90 or even 100+.

            I might be bias given I spent my learning-to-drive years in a few areas where this was the case, but I have a hard time believing that all of the areas I’m familiar with driving long distances are all exceptions… (Actually, I’d guess that aside from the East coast/Northeast, higher speeds are the norm).

            What areas outside the ones I’ve mentioned have lower speeds? (Either posted lower than 65 or people actually obey the speed limit… which I find unlikely given my personal experience, but might occur somewhere.)

        • whoa whoa whoa. You can absolutely cruise at 75 for hours in the Northeast. You just have to time it right. I cruised come from Manhattan to Maine mid day last week, not an ounce of traffic, at at least 80. Ok 70 on the FDR. It’s even possible to see the Big Dig at speed you just have to get there early. If I head north I won’t have to slow down till the Canadian border 4 hours later.

      • Texas. All of Texas.

        Houston to San Antonio has a 2:45 minute stretch of 75 mph. Houston to Dallas has a 3:30 stretch. I forget how long Austin to Dallas is… but it’s probably close too. And just about anything to El Paso…

        Then there’s also LA to Phoenix that I believe is 75. Also LA to SF is technically a 65, but everyone goes 80, so 75 is well within reason.

        Actually, most places West of the Mississippi can hit 75 for 3+ hours between cities. Might slow down for a mile or two for a 45 zone going through small towns, but otherwise, that’s actually not terribly hard to find…

        • Austin to Dallas is ~200 mi. They are widening I35 between the two cities with some sections completed that are posted at 75 mph. The section of I35E between Dallas and Hillsboro (about 70 mi) is mostly posted at 65/70 but most people drive 75/80 once they get out of the city limits. Just be careful, DPS likes to hide behind bridge embankments where the speed limits change. Once completed, I believe the whole stretch from Hillsboro to Austin ( ~130mi) will be 75 mph.

          Almost everything along I10/I8 between LA and San Antonio is posted at 75 mph with some sections in West Texas posted at 80 mph.

    • I agree. I think this is more aimed at the sort of person that would almost-but-not-quite buy a Leaf for their second car, but hates the ideas of not being able to really do medium length road trips (trips between 80 & 200 miles).

      That and they’ve said elsewhere that they envision this being an ideal Uber/ride sharing vehicle (which I assume means 200 miles would be sufficient between overnight charges).

    • Yes, this is my big gripe… as I think I’ve expressed enough. 😀

  • A slightly diff. approach is to be taken: given so many people complaining Bolt bears significant resemblance to Honda Fit, I feel Chevy should offer lower end version without excessive tech inside to lure that audience. On the other, higher end, Chevy (and other automakers) ought to offer custom exterior design on demand – for those willing to pay that extra fit. You surely recall hype of Apple rumor considering shape-shift Apple Car, which is still a rumor, but not to be dismissed as not viable. To the contrary, I believe those custom made exteriors on offer for buyers is to gain traction more and more in the upcoming years. Sensible people listen, but also deliver,

  • Here’s a baseball metaphor for Zach 🙂
    GM is making a very smart play, by keeping all their bases covered.
    I assume that they’re limiting production initially as a way of testing the market, while they wait for batteries to become cheaper and more plentiful. And also to prevent losing too much money, because I suspect that they will actually lose some money on the first ones. Everyone’s in the same boat at the moment, with the whole chicken-and-egg battery situation. Catch 22. You need to make a LOT of batteries for them to be cheap enough, and until they’re cheap enough, nobody wants to order a lot of batteries, so nobody wants to build a giant battery factory. (Well. except for that one crazy South African dude…)
    My guess is that they wanted to be first to market, to establish (or re-establish?) a “market leader” reputation. Steal Tesla’s thunder by launching the first “long range affordable EV”. Get a platform designed and put it out there in the market, to get some live guinea pigs to do the beta testing. The early adopters, motivated by philosophical/political/environmental factors, are likely to be a bit more forgiving than the regular motorist just looking for a cheap car. In other words, they basically just stole (*ahem* “appropriated) a couple of pages from the Tesla playbook.

    If they can actually make money on this (or see a clear pathway to making money) and if people actually like it, what stops them from ramping up the production? To like a million cars a year? Or ten?
    Yeah, it would probably take a few years.
    Something like a doubling every year should be possible, as soon as they have solid market data on price vs demand vs supplier costs etc. With solid demand forecasting, they’ll be in a position to negotiate deals with battery suppliers. And with bankable deals with the likes of GM, the battery suppliers will be prepared to invest in the required mega-scale production facilities. Or shall we say Giga? Tera?
    Sod it, let’s just do it and build….. THE YOTTAFACTORY!

    With the huge resources that GM has at its disposal, I reckon they could ramp up production pretty quickly. Potentially a very smart move for them to get in early here. And if it doesn’t work out, well, they haven’t really lost anything, because they needed some compliance cars in any case…

    • Hey, aren’t you from the land of cricket? 😀

      But yeah, good points. OTOH, ramping up a nationwide super-fast charging network takes time, and if GM isn’t yet starting on that, well….

      • Indeed. And that might be why some of my metaphors last for a full five days…
        And end without a conclusive result !

      • Fast charging is a really interesting topic to watch over the coming years. With 200 mile EVs available, it becomes relevant to the mainstream for the first time and the demand could really hockey stick up if these cars sell well. Not just automakers but government sponsorship may be needed to facilitate the build out.

        • I would say that it is THE key topic to watch in the near term.

        • Fed Government working together with Electric Utilities could build out a significant SuperCharging Network as part of Interstate projects and maintenance.

          • Could. But the utilities should be all over this. This is a new market for them. They’ll be able to replace what they lose to efficiency and end-user solar.

            I don’t see a need for government involvement. There’s enough profit potential to carry this one.

        • Fast charging is also really interesting because, depending on cell chemistry, it can actually PROLONG battery life. (As long as the process is “thermally managed”.)
          There was a really interesting snippet in a Jeff Dahn lecture (I’ll try to find the link if anyone’s interested) indicating that the rate of buildup of gunk on the electrodes is a function of charging time, rather than the current flow. Counter-intuitive. But HUGE implications. And very few people seem to have picked up on it.
          When I heard that, the penny dropped for me. Makes a lot of sense that this guys is going to be (or is by now?) working for Tesla.

      • In cricket parlance: They may not have scored a ton, but they have scored a half ton. A good innings given the sticky wicket.
        Ton = century = 100 runs

      • Zach if you owned an EV you would find that supercharging is really only necessary on trips longer than 200 miles. Most drivers rarely drive more than 50 miles a day and that is the “target market” of the current batch of 200 mile EV’s. The 200 range is to ease any range anxiety that most ICE vehicle owners now have.

        I own a MS and a Leaf. The MS has never been to a supercharger station, and the closest one is only eight miles away. The Leaf has over 10k miles on it and truly does very well with 240 home charging as does the Tesla.

    • Good points and I’d say GM put the heavy R&D sunk costs behind them in the late 2000s. Think about what they built to create the Volt: battery supplier relationships, battery R&D experience around thermal management, charging, extreme weather, lifespan, etc, then EV software, power modules, physical testing facilities, and on and on. This capability is expensive and hard and they built it up in just s few years. Now the Bolt stands on the shoulders of that work so it can be faster to market and cheaper R&D.

      Different topic, but think about the dearth of EV announcements for the last 5 years. The LEAF and Volt are a half decade old with very evolutionary (not revolutionary) updates, All other automakers have just been doing compliance cars, except, of course Tesla, who has changed the auto world in so many ways. This Bolt (and the BUDDe ) break the logjam. Game on.

      • Yup, one certainly gets the feeling that this is a seminal point in history. One can almost hear the creaking, groaning and snapping of the logjam breaking. The world will never be the same. I hope.

        Sure, Tesla’s grand reveals were exciting and all.
        But with the whole combination of Aquarian new-age hippiness and rich guy supercar and tech bubble hype and lone visionary craziness, it didn’t feel completely real. One had the feeling that it could all evaporate at any moment if the stock market turned or a rocket exploded at the wrong time. And we all know that Tesla has been ridiculously tight for cash at times….

        But this is GM. With billions of dollars in reserves and the ability to manufacture 200,000 cars a WEEK. And they’ve already put in all the hard work, research and investment to get this thing to market.
        And now they’re making a cool car. A cool car just happens to be electric.
        And THIS time, if people love it, I’m pretty sure they won’t be crushing them

        • Tesla did seem super sketchy at first, but then to announce #1 market share in their segment, beating S-class. And the gigafactory. And the supercharger network. And their battery architecture seems to be the one to copy. And perhaps their charger standard will be the one to copy. Note that some of these news items weren’t even tesla announcements, but rather news items observed by others. I think they went from rich hippies to spawning some come-to-Jesus meetings in boardrooms in Stuttgart and Munich. Followed by Detroit. and Nissan will be ready to play I’d think.

          • This was actually Elon’s goal: to electrify all cars.

            He funded a company to do it only because of the EV-1 being crushed. At that point he realized that the established carmakers wouldn’t make electric cars…. and not for rational reasons, but for *crazy emotional* reasons because they were “petrolheads”. This gave him an opening into which he could put a car company and make money.

          • Actually, there are a few decent conspiracies circulating the interwebs, some of which are more plausible than others.
            I’m not convinced that GMs actions surrounding the EV1 were completely irrational….

          • Yeah, the process of converting the unbelievers seems to be happening quite quickly.
            Except in Japan….

        • “Sure, Tesla’s grand reveals were exciting and all.

          But with the whole combination of Aquarian new-age hippiness and rich guy supercar and tech bubble hype and lone visionary craziness, it didn’t feel completely real. One had the feeling that it could all evaporate at any moment if the stock market turned or a rocket exploded at the wrong time. And we all know that Tesla has been ridiculously tight for cash at times….”

          That is a really good summary, and hadn’t really thought of that before.

          The Bolt (and other big EV announcements from mainstream manufacturers) do make you think, “This isn’t a dream!”

          • yup. A real car by a major means this is now for real. No EV1 revisit. So so exciting.

        • Remind me again which one filed for Chapter 11?

          • Sure. But one gets the idea that some real re-structuring was involved as part of the deal.
            They’re in pretty good shape now, from what I can gather, with healthy cash reserves.
            They also have the existing capacity in place to produce about a million vehicles a month. With a reliable source of batteries, they could ramp up very quickly, without needing to borrow huge sums for new production facilities.
            If their EV program takes off, the shares are looking cheap right now.

  • Even if this is only intended as a “compliance car”, what it has done is suddenly raised the bar, for ANY other compliance cars, to be long range, affordable and all electric.
    And if calling such a car a “compliance car” is still an insult, well, insult away, because I’ll take two.
    No more half-arsed, tiny battery, no plug hybrids, or other shamefully compromised attempts at reluctantly conforming to some onerous laws that serve only as a hurdle to the profitable business of selling profitable (and thirsty) ICEVs.
    No more wishy-washy “maybe by 2020 we’ll have a COOL PROTOTYPE, but in the meantime we’ll show you a flashy video” sorta language.

    They’re doing it NOW. A real car. Delivered to buyers. By the end of the year.

    This move by GM really throws down the gauntlet for all the other car-makers.
    Get real about EVs, or get eaten.

    • Agreed.

      Curious to see how long till Nissan & BMW up their cars’ ranges to 200 miles.

      • Give me a 200 mile EV or give me death!

      • Well, if Nissan and BMW don’t get close by the end of the year (at least in the form of an announcement), expect their sales volume to drop while people get on a waiting list for the limited production Bolt. Hopefully GM can ramp up production to cover some would be LEAF and i3 owners coming over to the GM camp 🙂 It’s a good problem to have. As it stands, Nissan is likely already losing sales as customers wait until later this year for the Bolt.

        • Another good problem to have:
          Expect used Nissan Leafs to start getting REALLY cheap.

    • And looking at the photo above of the blue “Bolt charging at home”, it looks cool. I even lover the color. I hope they will be available in Canada.

      • Yep, looks sharp.

        I’m sure they’ll be available in Canada. The Volt is a top-selling EV in Canada, and even the extremely limited availability Spark EV is available in parts of Canada, right?

        • I’m not sure about the Spark EV’s status in Canada.

        • I though the batteries don’t do well in cold weather. So maybe fine in Vancouver, but not in Calgary or Toronto?

          • Pre-warm while plugged in. In really cold places there are already public outlets for people to use for their block heaters in the winter.

            Worst case, install an ethanoyl heater like the one Volvo developed. Burn a little liquid to get cabin and batteries warmed up.

          • Yeesh, the ignorance. We have two EV’s in our garage here in Canada. Tesla and Smart. They are brilliant winter cars.
            Google “bjorn nyland youtube” and start watching this guy from near the arctic circle drive 200,000 km on electricity in just two years!

          • I have two “electric” vehicles. The Prius plugin manual says don’t drive it is the temp is below -30C and don’t ever expose it to -40C. The Leaf has a battery heater to keep it above roughly 0F, and claims the battery will freeze (and presumably ve ruined), is the battery temp gets below -13F. Many parts of Canada would be problematic for those two vehicles. I suspect the maufacturers simply won’t sell them into those climates.

            Now, I’m sure with a garage, and a little ingenuity, and an ICE vehicle to use on the coldest days, that one can get by. But, it isn’t ideal.
            I’ve noticed too, that even not using climate controls, the efficiency of those vehicles declines with temperatures. Where I live winter is typically 0-10C, but even then the effect is noticable. This is almost certainly a result of battery temperature.

          • Last winter was the coldest in my memory. -20C was the high temperature for one week here in Toronto. Never failed to get to work, and my Smart ED was perfect for cold, as it takes almost no time for the electric resistive cabin heater to get the small cockpit warmed up. Both the Tesla and Smart ED pre-condition the battery to keep it at appropriate temperature, heating AND cooling (unlike Leaf).
            Sorry about your Leaf and Prius, neither of which has that battery conditioning technology of the same calibre.
            Watch videos by “bjorn nyland” like I told you, then you would know…

          • Good that some EVs are being designed with that in mind. I think others are making the tradeoff to save on money and complexity, at the cost of reducing the geographical range.

            In my case I’m currently in California, so its not an issue.

      • Yeah. It’s cool enough to be catchy. And “normal” enough to be mainstream. With constrained production leading to “scarcity” desirability is likely to increase.
        I’m anticipating a waiting list for this thing. And those waiting lists will help them to get an idea of their production ramp. Which will help to refine their battery needs. Which will help them (or their suppliers) commit to the investments required for large scale commercial production.

        The road map is pretty clear. Why should GM re-invent the wheel? Maybe they’ll start taking pre-orders on their website. Maybe even take deposits… you know, like that OTHER company.
        Bypassing the dealerships might still be a few years off though….

        • Mainstream appeal is huge!!

      • What are the incentives like in Canada?
        I seem to recall that Quebec is pretty supportive, but the other states less so. For the first wave of cars, whilst they’re waiting for battery prices to come down, one suspects that they’ll be targeting areas that have big incentives for buyers. to get them into that $30k ballpark (after incentives).
        I don’t see them getting there just yet without some generous incentives.

        There was talk that the Bolt would only be available in the USA initially. I’m sure Zach has the reference.
        But after a couple of years, if this thing takes off, I’ll bet that Canada will be on of their first foreign markets.

        • One is a free license to drive on the main roads in Beijing. ICEVs pay $29,000 for the license.

          • Any idea of what the current situation is in Canada?

          • Canada : Ontario provincial rebate (at purchase) of $8500, Quebec has $8000 and BC $5000. No federal EV programs or incentives. Ontario also has a $20M charging initiative starting up, and will cover $500 for purchase/install of charging station (EVSE). Ontario is a pretty good place to own an EV. We also have one of the cleanest electricity grids in the world, close second to BC and Quebec.

          • Thanks. A move to eastern Ontario is something I’m considering in the medium term. Always good to get on-the-ground information from “the horse’s mouth”.

          • What’s happening with the privatisation of Hydro One?

            Privatising the generators sounds fine. Do it piecemeal, and then let them compete with each other to provide the cheapest, greenest power. Makes sense.
            But I’m deeply suspicious of the idea of privatising the transmission and distribution network. Why not keep that as a public asset, with federal and crown oversight?

            Seems like the whole process is being done quite stealthily. Not much information to be found, and the general public certainly seems to be completely unaware. Those that have heard, seem to have swallowed the line of “private companies are always better at running a business that the damn government”.
            Call me cynical, but is the provincial leadership trying to ensure a future monopoly cash cow for well-connected “friends”?

          • Bob — I know that would be huge if I lived in Beijing, no wonder so many are rushing to finance rechargers.

        • Federal level, nothing (yet). In Ontario, an $8500 refund.

  • FYI for anyone eager to see the pics bigger, I just updated the article so you can open large versions of all of them.

    • Thanks, as always, for your efforts that make CT such a great site.

      • Thank you! Doing what we can. Hope we improve a lot in the coming year.

        • Me too 🙂

    • Some of my first pics with the new camera 🙂 I’m currently just converting to jpg but have raw as well….

  • looks like it ticks most of the boxes for what the average consumer expects from a “normal” car. next a full sized suv/crossover and my daughter will be happy.

  • I have not driven the Volt or the Tesla but if I were to buy one there is no way that I would purchase the Volt unless the Tesla cost half again as much. This will not be the case since Tesla is building it’s Giga Factory and can easily adjust prices as necessary.

    Another key selling point, besides the supercharger system, is that the Volt is made by GM and the Tesla is not.

    • Yeah, that’s why we own a Tesla, to support their mission. We also own a Smart ED which was one of the first available EV’s in Ontario in early 2013.

    • Don’t quite know how they do that rearview mirror projection trick, but it looks hella cool.

    • Thanks. Good pics. And yeah, that mirror is hella cool. Some neat tricks in this EV.

  • While the Bolt is certainly closer to a “normal” car. It is not the most normal or mainstream form factor for the American market. In Europe, sure, practical hatchbacks are all the rage and most of my personal household vehicles have been hatchbacks or wagons of some sort e.g.: ’87 Integra, ’02 RSX, ’05 Saab 9-2x. ’05 Pontiac Vibe, ’05 Prius, ’11 Volt. If you look at the top 10 vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2015, you see that to make the biggest impact, the Bolt should have been a 4 door sedan (midsize or compact) or a compact SUV. I understand that the pack thickness makes it a challenge to design a no compromise sedan and trucks are a no-go from a weight and price standpoint, but a compact SUV like the sexy MPV5 concept would have been a much bigger hit and could have been priced higher.

    • A 4-door sedan has more wind resistance than a hatch, so more batteries, more $$$, etc. I don’t get the aversion to hatchbacks. Easier access to a larger trunk and gobs of storage once the back seats are down with no downside whatsoever It’s just buyer inertia, maybe.

      Similar arguments go for a compact SUV. People really pay thousand$$$ more for what, an inch of ground clearance, a little more storage room (that isn’t really all that more useful since wheel wells and beefier suspension eat up some of that volume) and the false sense of security that a higher (more top-heavy) ride and All / Four Wheel Drive gives you? There’s no way GM could hit their price and range targets with this vehicle form right now. But just like Tesla, expect their Model X-style offering in a few years.

      • I would expect sedans to have lower wind resistance as they are lower and longer. The Model S has the lowest drag coefficient of any mass production car that I’m aware of at .22. Lower, longer, sleeker…

        • The Model S has a Cd of 0.24, a little higher than you claim:

          But get this…the Model S is a hatchback:

          The main issue is that the rear of a hatchback can be a seamless continuation of the vehicle’s form. Meanwhile, a sedan forces the back window to descend more quickly to meet the trunk, which is flat more or less. This abrupt change in vehicle form causes airflow to detach from the vehicle more readily and makes the low pressure area behind the vehicle more pronounced when its moving. The shape of sedan trunks also don’t help with airflow issues.

          • I expect we’ll see a lot of “form follows function” on EVs, at least until battery tech gets a lot better and range improves to ICE levels.
            And that leads to a sort of convergent evolution in vehicle styling.
            The S was clearly designed with aerodynamics in mind. But a lot of people think of it as “boring”. And if ALL vehicles looked like that, there would be a great incentive to make something more “radical”, even at the expense of fuel economy.
            People’s purchasing decisions are not rational, basically. Especially when it comes to cars.

    • True, but most popular US cars are bigger still (CRV, RAV4, F150 are all on the list). These will require battery prices to hit $75 to make sense for the larger battery. Strategically, the high end (Tesla) and the mainstream compact (civic, Fit, Impreza) are good places to start while batteries remain above $100/kWh. Below $100, market opens wide.

      • I wouldn’t assume US car tastes will be static.

        An attractive, fun to drive, roomy, affordable, very safe vehicle might be the preference a few years from now.

        Lots of SUV purchases are for (assumed) safety. Some for interior space. Before pickup trucks were the ‘guy choices’ there were muscle cars and “sports cars” which weren’t really sports cars but overpowered sedans.

        • One of the reasons American vehicles are on average much bigger than Western European vehicles is the difference in gasoline taxes. If you had the same gas prices as the UK, you would not be selling so many Ford F series trucks and their equivalents.

          • It’s not just gas taxes…
            Once in Barcelona, I doubled over laughing at a 1959 Chevy Impala crawling down a back street at maybe 5mph –each of those gigantic horizontal fins barely missing pedestrians on the two sidewalks.

  • Like the skateboard battery configuration. It frees up space and will give the Bolt huge interior room for the size car it is. Quick charging rates have been discussed below already. However, I’m more concerned about the deployment of SAE Combo quick chargers over the next year. They’re not as widespread as Chademo right now and that’s a big problem since even a 200-mile EV would be hard-pressed to do a lot of trips on the Chademo network. A Chademo adapter like the one Tesla uses might come in handy to diversify the Bolt’s quick-charging diet, but it runs several hundred dollars right now, so that price needs to come down. But regardless of adapters, we need more SAE Combo stations to be built in a hurry. I haven’t heard of any developments on the scale necessary to ensure a good ownership experience for Bolt owners.

    • Fully agree – more fast charging stations are critical.

    • Fast charging good. Super charging better.

      The problem with fast charging is that it doesn’t come close enough to the speed of refuelling an ICE vehicle. Fast charing won’t disrupt the status quo – the Bolt, sans supercharging, will only sell to those with a green bent, or as a second car.

      If GM are serious about competing with Tesla in 2017, fixing this omission is first priority. Otherwise, all they’ve achieved for all that effort is to blast the Nissan Leaf out of the water.

      • If the batteries can’t handle the charge rate, it might be impossible to fix. Not saying this is the case, but it’s unclear where the charging rate bottleneck exists.

  • OK, now I’m going to hit up the pointless stuff like styling. Kudos to GM for going with the black plastic upper grill instead of the sheet metal nonsense the pre-productions units are using. I get that they want to show some continuity with the new Volt, but this is the worst-looking thing about the Volt to begin with. It’s almost like GM designers said, “Hey, you know that butt-ugly piece of scrap metal Acura has been sticking on the front of their cars for years? Yeah, let’s do something like that, only bigger and more butt-uglier”.

    The streak of black plastic between the rear passenger window and the hatch makes the design kind of “busy”. I guess that’s the new thing in the auto industry nowadays, putting in cosmetic bits of plastic, shiny plastic and faux air vents to make cars look more “rad”. Well, them young-uns in Detroit and elsewhere need to stop with this flibertygibbet. And they need to get off my lawn with their twitters and their dub-steps too!

    Finally, it looks like it’ll have 15″ or maybe 16″ wheels. Most people complain about econoboxes with tiny wheels. I say bring on the tiny wheels! The price on tires jumps up considerably once you hit 17″, so I’m glad GM is letting Bolt customers save some money on them. Let’s just hope there will also be a nice selection of low rolling-resistance tires to put on the Bolt’s wheels.

  • Zach, I didn’t see you mentioning the Model S that has completely burned down while been plugged to a supercharger in Norway (or is it Finland?)
    Do someone know what happened?

    • Something about a gas bubble on Venus magnifying a beam of light igniting the hair of a dashboard Troll Doll, I believe.

      • It was in Norway. Bjorn mentioned it in his latest vid. What are the statistics regarding fires in Teslas versus fossil cars and comparative death/injury rates? Which is more hazardous, super-charging or refuelling with gasoline? I’d like motoring journalists to do some digging into these issues.

        • Motorvehicle fumes in the US are responsible for over 20,000 deaths a year and particulates at gas stations are such that OSHA the suggest you keep 100ft from the pumps while fueling. Foriegn oil supports terrorism while growth of the battery market helps support renewables and mobile devices. I’d be more concerned with the fact that ICEs can ignite after an accident while you’re unconscious than a handful of global voltage regulation mishaps for a fresh industry.

    • It’s been discussed. So far I don’t think the investigation has been completed.

  • Vauxhall Motors in the UK need to get to work to ensure that us Brits get the Chevy Bolt in right hand drive form. I have a Vauxhall Ampera/Chevy Volt and at the moment there is no sign of any electric vehicle at all for the UK from General Motors. Fingers out GM. Right hand Bolt for the UK, pronto.

  • Toyota had better be working on something special right now, otherwise they’re going to be caught napping at the wheel.

  • 200+ mile EV without a supercharger network is a strategic failure. There’s no euphemism to that. Sorry for being blunt.

  • I’ve been pondering the question “Do GM want this car to disrupt the ICEV market, and if so, why does it lack the capacity for super charging?”

    I’ve arrived at an answer that might fit. The problem is the assumption in the question, which treats GM as a single entity capable of holding a single opinion. I suspect there are decision makers within GM who want the car to succeed, and those who would prefer business as usual – with no threat posed to existing revenue streams.

    There are also the shareholders to consider. One responsibility to shareholders is to maximise profits for the coming financial year (dividend). Another responsibility is to remain in business (stock value). As things stand, these objectives are at direct odds. To remain in business long term, GM must compete head to head with Tesla. To compete, they must produce a mass market EV and sell it, despite the fact that it eats into their parts and servicing revenue, and despite the fact that their dealers will hate this.

    It comes down to clarity of vision. GM is Dr Doolittle’s “push me pull you” looking two directions simultaneously, Tesla is a stallion with eyes front.

    GM’s conflict is sufficient to explain the Bolt. Those 100 engineers working on the project have produced the best damn car they can, using available technology. Tesla on the other hand do not limit themselves to available technology. As Musk explains, problems are deemed solvable based not on what others are doing or have done (allegory), but based on whether the laws of physics and economics allow it. Charging too slow? – build a better battery, a better charger and a better plug. No charging stations? – build them. Batteries too expensive? – build a gigafactory. Tesla design, but they also invent. GM deserve credit for being the first manufacturer to produce a long range mass market EV, yet they still lack Tesla’s drive.

  • If GM has its franchises put in CCS/SAE chargers, the sheer number of charging opportunities could overwhelm any deal with TESLA. They would have to follow through with robust chargers and strict guidelines for dealers. ( I may give up my Leaf yet for a Bolt. I’m very impressed. I am very unimpressed with going to a Nissan dealer to find the DCQC iced and staff who rotate in and out of dealerships on a quarterly basis who have no idea what a Leaf does.)

    • What is around car dealerships? Generally just other car dealerships.

      I don’t think car dealerships are places people enjoy going to. Are most people interested in going to where car dealerships generally exist, then waiting around while their car charges? I don’t think so, particularly if on a road trip. I know that premise fails for me – I’m not buying that car.

      A significant point of Supercharger design philosophy is they are within easy walking distance of amenities.

      Another important feature of the Supercharger network is chargers are plentiful. They also attempt to place them where they won’t get ice’d. This is not something franchisees are likely to have space, or interest, in providing – as you already know.

      Another important feature of the Supercharger network is chargers are convenient to main travel arteries. This is often NOT true of car dealerships.

      Getting the DC charging thing right was rocket science, the first time. Fortunately Elon Musk is a rocket scientist. Now these companies have a pretty solid base of experience and customer feedback to base their designs on.

      • Seems to be another example of one company starting with a blank piece of paper and designing the best possible solutions and another trying to take what they are already doing and trying to modify them to fit a different technology.

        • I (and pretty sure you) hope they don’t do that. Go to all this trouble to make a giant step forward on EV’s, then drop the ball on charging.

          I’m fairly convinced GM is showing signs of some smarts, enough that I’m buying some GM on Monday.

          • I just don’t understand why GM has ignored the need for long distance driving charging. Will another large company announce a 200+ range with a charging solution?

            Ford is not stupid. VW needs big redemption play. Hyundai’s a big time player. I’m not willing to believe that any company does not have some sort of EV program under development.

            ​I’m not going to be surprised if someone (other than Tesla) outdoes GM this year. ​

  • So, now that the pack size has been revealed as 60kWh, I would venture to guess that the range is more than Tesla’s 208 miles for the S60. Surely the Bolt weighs a good deal less than the Model S. Maybe somewhere close to 215mi will be reasonable in the real world especially if GM under promises and over delivers as they did with the Volt range.

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