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Batteries

Published on January 26th, 2016 | by Kyle Field

154

Is The New Chevy Bolt Really An LG Bolt?

January 26th, 2016 by  


The announcement of the production version of the Chevy Bolt was the biggest news in electric vehicles (EVs) so far this year, and the car is testament to how the American automotive giant General Motors (GM) views the future of transportation. This can be seen in the expedited pace at which the car was designed, prototyped, and locked in on a production version. Many (including all of us here at CleanTechnica) believe this was largely due to the success of Tesla and, specifically, in the face of the looming Tesla Model 3 launch, which is currently expected in late 2017.

To achieve this, GM pulled out all the stops. Though, some of the decisions that were made seem… interesting… now that the details are coming out. For example, it is widely known that General Motors locked in a critical partnership with Korean battery manufacturer and overall tech giant LG, but it seems the relationship is much deeper — and more critical to the development of the Bolt — than was previously thought.

lg_bolt2

Made in Korea or Made in the USA?

Ripping the shell off the car, we can see that the list of contributions from LG is essentially a list of core powertrain components (from the official Chevy Press Release): 

  • Battery Cells and Pack
  • Electric Drive Motor (built from GM design)
  • Power Inverter Module (converts DC power to AC for the drive unit)
  • Onboard Charger
  • Electric Climate Control System Compressor
  • High Power Distribution Module (manages the flow of high voltage to various components)
  • Battery Heater
  • Accessory Power Module (maintains low-voltage power delivery to accessories)
  • Power Line Communication Module (manages communication between vehicle and a DC charging station)
  • Instrument Cluster
  • Infotainment System

Wait, what? LG contributed the battery system, drive motor, charger, inverter… and most of the other critical components stemming off of the base powertrain? That leaves Chevy with, what… the shell of the car to build? It sounds like GM essentially gave LG a Buick Encore shell and said, “we’re going to need something to compete with the Model 3. Can you… uh… make that happen?”

chevy_bolt_naias

Orange Production Version of the Bolt arrives at NAIAS in Detroit

Outsourcing is common in the automotive industry, and even Tesla sources many of the components it uses from global suppliers, but to see the heart and soul of a vehicle pushed overseas is surprising — especially for what appears to be the core of a new technology platform. It will be interesting to see if GM is leveraging LG too much while at the same time giving LG a leg up on a future bid in the automotive world….

On the flip side, this move could be interpreted as leveraging LG to get a leg up on competition and beat the Tesla Model 3 to market. It is yet another interesting chapter in the EVolution of the automotive industry. For now, most folks are celebrating the fact that Chevy is at the EV table, and not just that — but presumably leading the pack with the only “affordable” 200 mile range EV. Stay tuned for the next chapter to the story in March when Tesla pulls the curtains back on the much-anticipated Model 3 for the first time.

Images by Chevrolet





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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. TSLA investor. Tesla referral link: http://ts.la/kyle623



  • I find it disappointing that US tax credits can be utilized to spur offshore manufacturing. Kudos to LG for their technological savvy, boos to GM for once again taking the lazy route of least resistance and minimum foresight. Which might explain the lack of an accompanying plan for a high quality, dedicated charging infrastructure.

  • JeremyK

    Interesting slide from 2012, showing various automotive supplier content, per vehicle. If you glance around, you’ll see many suppliers listed for multiple types of components. Lear, Magna, Continental, Borg Warner, Delphi are just a few suppliers that have a LOT of content in every single car that you/I drive. The supplier base with change a little with EVs. Obviously, companies like LG will be getting a big piece of the pie…but as the graphic shows, every car is built/designed with a lot of help from the supply base. http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/attachments/international-automotive-scene/1402305d1439277472-who-makes-car-content-per-vehicle-key-global-suppliers-who-makes-cars.png

  • hybridbear

    This goes right along with what Sergio Marchionne said recently about how the “EV Revolution Would Crush Automakers”.

    http://cleantechnica (dot) com/2016/01/15/sergio-marchionne-admits-ev-revolution-would-crush-automakers/

    • Agreed. Nice point tying that in. Somehow didn’t cross my mind.

  • Peter Egan

    Tesla has said its battery cells have a chemistry specifically for its circumstances – no one else has a vehicle with its range/charge circumstances, so it is not surprising..

    The above image of the car without the body is really the LG kit on show. GM has only sourced the wheels and suspension from other suppliers. The image of the vehicle body is GM’s contribution.

    The Panasonic kit in a Tesla is the just the cells in the battery pack.

    More importantly, the electronic architecture of Tesla appears rather different. The Tesla is filled with programmable electronic devices whose software reports to Tesla developed control software – Tesla’s founders were from computer companies.

    The brain of the Tesla is a Tesla, the brain of a Bolt is a LG.

    One could call GM a contract bodybuilder and marketer of a LG product.

    As this is likely LG’s first attempt to integrate a vehicle, it’s not surprising that it has an architecture that looks like spaghetti sauce.

    • neroden

      Nothing wrong with GM becoming a “coachbuilder”, as they used to call the builders of car bodies. That is their remaining expertise when ICE engines become obsolete…

      • theflew

        And building cars. Too many people are discounting the complexity of building cars. Building EV’s is the easy part, making a profit at it is the difficult part. Garage mechanics are building EV’s in their garages using off the shelf components. But they are using existing chassis because that pretty difficult to build.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Let’s assume all the good stuff about GM is real.

          Then the question is “Why has GM not released the Tesla killer?”.

          Why is GM bringing a “less than” 200 mile EV to market when, according to you, they should be able to produce a much better car that the Tesla 3?

          Why did they bring out a Cadillac PHEV which the market didn’t want when they could have produced a better EV than the S for less money?

    • eveee

      Look out GM. LG is about to make an EV to compete with your own, lol. That or sell the same components to vw, Nissan, ford. Hard to see GMs competitive advantage outsourcing everything.

      • Steve Grinwis

        Was GM known for their engines before? Did people flock to GM for their engines, and I just missed it? Don’t think so.

        GM is just going to lose something they weren’t known for before.

        Not much changes, other than it’ll be someone else providing the drive-train, assuming they don’t start producing lots of this stuff in house eventually, much like Mercedes did with the Smart EV.

        • eveee

          GM is marketing. As long as people believe in brands, they have a chance. Its just that if its well know that they all source components from LGChem, that wizard of Oz curtain is lifted. But the other side is that GM has no technical advantage over any other car company. And they have to wait in line for production as LGChem sources to the highest bidder with the most volume.

          • Steve Grinwis

            No.

            GM is the rest of the engineering that goes into a car that literally everyone is glossing over on this site. Zach is all up in arms that there are 150 engineers working on Tesla software, and that’s so exciting. GM has thousands. This is because the Chevy Volt has 100 different electronic controllers, and over 100 million lines of code.

            And the net result? The Volt is an engineering tour-de-force, that has exceptional reliability, and does exactly what it’s supposed to. I know it’s not a full EV, so it gets short shrift around here, but I’ll make the statement that Tesla couldn’t have built it. It’s too complicated for them.

            You guys are really blowing over how hard it is to take all the various pieces, and put them together into a really good, compelling car.

            And we’re not even talking about a nice car, like a Porsche, a Camaro, a Miata, etc… nothing like that. Just, a solid, functional, reliable car. Those cars are just months on end of the refinement of a chassis and suspension,and weight balance by huge teams of people who do only that.

            This has consistently been what Tesla has struggled with. Think about that. The fabled Tesla that all of you guys are all in love with, (and which has made an awesome car in the Model S, admittedly), has struggled to get the “simple” stuff to work. It’s not been battery packs, inverters or AC motors that have been failing. It’s been getting doors to work. And door handles. And putting the right amount of grease on differential gears. This stuff is really hard to get everything right. It’s even harder when you have to get everything right using the absolute minimum cost components, because you have to weigh every dollar, when you want to make a competitive mass market car that you can sell at a profit.

            This is stuff that is going to take a long time, and a lot of money for Tesla to get right, and there is no guarantee that they will.

          • eveee

            I do agree that all the integration is difficult, a challenge. and a worthy design effort. I am not among those that say the rest is easy. In fact, I have a bit of experience in understanding how difficult it is to make doors.

            Tesla had trouble with doors because they didn’t do it the standard way. On the X, the falcon wing, that was trouble. I wonder if they should have done it, but I can’t say it was wrong to try in a luxury vehicle. I just think they already had too much on their plate, so it was impractical to add more. GM could have easily screwed up the falcon wing, too. Why not. They screwed up the multi cylinder shut off thing. That doesn’t mean their engineering is bad. All car companies have some problems. All.

            The Model S really didn’t have a door problem, but they did have a lock problem. Same deal. They tried to make it electromechanical. They really didn’t need to. They had a problem that if the electrical failed, the retracted door handle would not come out. The backup was to place the key FOB somewhere on the hood. Duh. Why? It could have easily been a mechanical method of presenting the handle. A simple push button toggle. That could have failed, too. But my motto is KISS. And also, design it to be user friendly and intuitive. They failed there a bit also, IMO, because there is absolutely nothing intuitive about putting your key fob on the hood. Even a monkey would fiddle with the door handle and try to push it in.

            On the gears, thats not just about figuring out lubrication or something. I am pretty sure Tesla doesn’t just do all their gear work themselves. Their first effort was a multi-speed transmission that failed. Too much torque. Still a problem. You just don’t see it on vehicles like the Leaf or any other EV. The Model S is a beast, smashing gears to accelerate a 4,500 lb car. Even ICE cars like that destroy transmissions. Its easy. Thats not an excuse for Tesla. Its just a reason why gears are stressed. I don’t think thats happening after the early units were found to have problems.

            I totally agree, making a car is difficult and it can fail anytime. But I also think you might be underestimating how difficult it is to get battery packs, inverters, and motors right. IMO, the Bolt is a great EV effort. It falls short on aerodynamics. But then so does every other EV on the road except Tesla. IMO, in the area of EV system design, Tesla is best. Pictures of the Bolt under hood look nowhere near as clean packaging as Tesla.
            EV system design is a knack that has to be acquired with experience. Even GM is going through a learning curve. ICE doesn’t prepare you for it.
            I am glad they went with a skateboard. And chose to use LG for the electronics. Shows they are changing.

            GM still shows some lack of commitment. The lack of public support for fast enough EV charging for long range driving is a disappointment. I would like there to be more than one long range EV available from different manufacturers that can do long range trips like the S, but at more modest prices.

            The Gen2 Volt is a great car. People don’t realize that its a total redesign.
            Much better design. The problem is, Volt and Bolt are going to compete with each other. (If DCFC charges 170 miles in a half hour). There will be still some market for PHEVs for quite a while. But GMs plan to turn their whole lineup into PHEVs has hit a setback with the ELR not measuring up to the Model S. All the major manufacturers, BMW, MB, etc. are going to run into this. The mid price range might be a little different. But not that much.

    • theflew

      You must not know how OnStar works? GM can read and write to the subsystems in the vehicle. I get monthly reports on the major systems. GM can also write to those subsystems. Now they do that not that often because they have dealers that can guarantee it’s done correctly. If Tesla has 500k cars on the rode I can guarantee OTA software updates get hairy. Now imagine GM with millions upon millions of cars on the rode with different options, models, years. Tesla basically has 1.1 types of vehicles on the rode that have very few differencese because they basically stuck everything in all cars because it’s an expensive car. On a $35k car you can’t do that and make any profit.

      • Bob_Wallace

        If you develop the system on an expensive car then the major costs are covered.

      • Peter Egan

        Interesting to know. My phone and desktop update themselves, but safety is not such an issue. Surely we can only have a few vehicle software systems.

  • Carl Raymond S

    Informed buyers will know that when they buy a Bolt, they are buying a GM/LG car, just as if they buy a Tesla, they know it’s a Tesla/Panasonic car.

    Vertical migration of a business is a dangerous tactic. The moment those above or below you in the supply chain get wind of it, there goes your ‘friendship’ status, along with any preferential deals.

    e.g. I worked for an advertising company. It was obvious we could move into electronic media faster than the traditional print media, but we stayed well away for fear of losing our media discounts. In the end we went under when the print media circulations dried up.

  • newnodm

    We don’t know most of what Tesla makes and doesn’t make. We do know they don’t make batteries, and they tried to not make their motors. We know that their self manufactured motors fail at a high rate too.
    Tesla certainly doesn’t actually manufacture power electronics. We don’t know what power electronics they designed, and what was designed by outside firms.

    • Kyle Field

      That sounds a lot like speculation. What’s interesting about GM is that we do know that LG is making a ton of critical components. If/when we get similar data for Tesla, we can/will dig into that…

      • newnodm

        Start with the tires and work through a model S. What pieces did they actually manufacture? Almost nothing. Car makers mostly assemble parts ordered from other companies.
        I assume you are a software developer. What percent of the code running in the model S did Tesla actually write? I bet less than 5%. Maybe less than 1%. Even with software they are primarily integrators, not developers.

        • dogphlap dogphlap

          They designed and manufactured almost everything. Much more than a typical car plant normally would. Part of the reason for that is that as a new start up car company most suppliers would not even talk to them (they were considered far too big a risk and to be fair they did nearly go broke around 2008) so they were left with no choice but to make stuff in house.

          • newnodm

            Not even close.

        • neroden

          Tesla wrote all the “driving” software for the Model S, all the “charging” software, and all the user interface software. So they wrote the majority of it. They illegally ripped off the operating system (Linux) and the web browser.

          • dogphlap dogphlap

            How did they illegally rip off Linux. It’s open source and as far as I understand anyone can use it so long as the GPL is not violated. I’m no expert on this so I welcome your explanation.

          • newnodm

            Mobileye wrote the driving software

          • Joe Viocoe

            Yet Tesla said they have 150 of their own engineers on the autopilot system.
            It looks like Tesla licensed from Mobileye just to get started, but wound up doing most of it themselves. Like the Roadster dove train.

          • Or those 150 engineers are just eating donuts. 😉

            More seriously, yes, anyone overlooking how much Tesla is putting into this software needs to take a deeper dive. Tesla is implementing deep learning with Autopilot, a pretty huge deal.

            CleanTechnica is running on the internet, and WordPress.org, but we have obviously put a lot in to make the site something special. That’s the best analogy I have for Tesla… but we certainly don’t have 150 engineers working on improving things (like Tesla does)!

    • Tesla makes the battery packs, which is a significant matter, and has changed the chemistry of the cells, which indicates they dictate to some extent what Panasonic does there.

      • Steve Grinwis

        I have seen no evidence that Tesla uses a special Panasonic chemistry. Do you have any? You’ve said this several times.

        Also: GM spends far more on battery research than Tesla. Why do you believe that GM doesn’t have a special mandated GM chemistry?

        • newnodm

          Tesla does have a large battery testing infrastructure. Likely they use the best of what both Panasonic and Tesla discover.

          Li-ion does seem to have reach a level of maturity where many companies have a good amount of expertise. I expected more battery issues in BEV/HEV/PHEV than has actually occurred.

          • Steve Grinwis

            A testing facility yes. No evidence there of the chemistry lab required to fabricate and test experimental cells, that I’ve heard of.

            If I’m wrong, I’d love to see evidence of it.

        • Carl Raymond S

          Which again raises the big question – Is the Bolt supercharger ready, and if so, why haven’t GM announced this? (I’m not talking about networks here – I just want to know if it’s physically possible to charge a Bolt at the same km/hr rate as a Tesla, and if not, what piece of hardware is the limiting factor)

        • Joe Viocoe

          Yes, they brought in Dahl to customize the battery chemistry… Some silicon added.

        • As Joe notes, they have a person commonly regarded as the top lithium-ion battery scientist on their team now. Tesla started introducing silicon into the battery chemistry last year. JB & Elon have noted several times that they are improving battery chemistry. I guess this all isn’t obvious to people who loosely follow the company, but it’s common knowledge among those of us who have been doing so.

          (You can’t take a deep dive into everything, so no offense intended, of course. But maybe we should do a better job highlighting what Tesla is doing that others aren’t. 😉 😀 )

      • neroden

        Tesla radically altered the battery cell packaging from anything else Panasonic sells — basically by removing most of it in favor of the battery pack and its individual fuses. The batteries are custom-made for Tesla at this point. I’m not sure about the chemistry, but there’s no reason for them not to use a custom chemistry.

        • Steve Grinwis

          I don’t think this is true. You can buy the cells packaged in exactly the same way, without the electronics from Panasonic directly if you so chose. They do this for other people who want to provide their own electronics package.

          So, if they have specialties, it is in the chemistry, not the cell packaging themselves.

    • dogphlap dogphlap

      You may think I’m splitting hairs but I’ve never heard of Tesla having any motor problems. They have had a lot of failures (if you consider a noisy drive unit a failure, I do) of the reduction gear pair but the motors have been fine.

    • neroden

      There’s a long list of Tesla’s suppliers somewhere. I’ve seen a diagram and a list.

      Tesla manufactures a very high percentage of their own automobile (compared to other carmakers). They tried to use more suppliers, but the suppliers kept failing quality control checks, so whenever that happened they brought stuff in-house.

      • newnodm

        Tires? no. Rims? no. Brakes? no. Shocks? no. Air system for shocks? no………….

  • Perttu Lehtinen

    WTF is that mess between the front tires?

    • Mike Dill

      I agree that picture looks like a PHEV not an electric. Compared to the model S ‘skateboard’ this thing looks like it will still fill the front of the car.What is all that stuff?

      • newnodm

        The same parts are simply missing from the Tesla cutaway.

        • Kyle Field

          I believe they are tucked away in side panels (charge controller) and in with the batteries (charger(s))…etc…

        • Mike Dill

          So what is there in the front that is taking all the volume?

      • Kyle Field

        Our Mercedes B-Class Electric looks the same. It’s as if all the engineers looked at each other and asked “what do we do with this thing? put it up front, i guess…”

  • Ronald Brakels

    I think plug-in hybrids are a good way to get Australians off crack. Sorry, I mean guzzleline. But when you compare the guts of the Bolt shown up above to the guts of a pure electric you can see how much simpler and cheaper a pure electric vehicle is to build before the cost of the battery pack is added in. And by extension more reliable and cheaper to maintain. With batteries continuing to fall in price all electrics are going to end up with a major advantage. But for now plug in hybrids should be good for getting a segment of the market off crack. Cracked long chain hydrocarbons that is.

    • sault

      The Bolt is a pure EV.

    • Steve Grinwis

      The Bolt is a pure electric…

      • vensonata

        But isn’t that picture a gas engine…look closely. It is not a Bolt, Ronald is correct!

        • Steve Grinwis

          I see a battery floor, and no exhaust. That’s a bolt.

          • What’s that pipe at the top middle that disappears into the ether?

          • Steve Grinwis

            Framing, or cabling or something. The same thing is shown on the other side.

        • Kyle Field

          The huge mass up front is a ton of charging and motor control stuff lumped on top of the electric motor. It’s insane how jumbled it is compared to the Model S but my Mercedes B-Class looks the same. Tons of stuff up front under the bonnet.

          • Steve Grinwis

            I think the Model S cutaway is hiding things that are there, but not shown.

            For instance, there are no brake lines, no master cylinder, no brake fluid reservoir, etc.

            There’s also no windshield washer fluid reservoir, pump, hoses, etc…

            I also don’t see any A/C compressors, lines, reservoirs, radiators, etc..

            Nor is there a coolant pump, reservoir, lines, radiators, etc..

            So, off the top of my head, there are 15 things that are shown on the Bolt model, but aren’t in the Model S cutaway that I’ve seen.

            I’m sure there is more as well…

  • vensonata

    What we have here, ladies and gentlemen, is called “the problem of identity”, in philosophical circles. When the essential components which we identify with a “car” have been removed (the gas engine) and replaced by electronics, is it still a “car”?
    This is why all the major “car” companies are dragging their feet. Who are they without an internal combustion engine? They are beings without an identity. These “vehicles” could as well be referred to as “computers on wheels” as anything else.

    • Kyle Field

      I love it! Total paradigm shift for the auto industry. Disruptive to the core 🙂 Bring it on, disruptors…bring. it. on.

      • Steve Grinwis

        Ya. No. Not really.

      • theflew

        Not really because OEM’s assembly parts together. Whether it’s an ICE or electric motor there are more similarities in the cars than differences. Now if Tesla was 3D printing entire cars and adding the EV components that would be disruptive because they wouldn’t need a massive assembly plant anymore.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Count the distinctive parts in an ICE and its systems. Think about the process of fitting all those parts together.

          Now consider the thousands of identical battery cells that just have to be dropped into place. The tolerance is not tight.

    • neroden

      After the battery, the body and frame are probably the most expensive parts to manufacture. The body and frame probably require the most expensive *equipment* to manufacture them. Maybe that defines the car?

      • Bob_Wallace

        If you hire a contractor to build you a house he/she assembles pieces from lumber yards, electrical and plumbing suppliers, etc.

        Contractors manufacture nothing but we give the credit for the build.

        • Joe Viocoe

          A house and car are more than the sum of parts.
          When an inspector finds a problem in your home, 9 times out of 10… It was the build quality, not a defective component.

          • Bob_Wallace

            ​Did someone put up the “Change the topic” sign?​

          • Joe Viocoe

            Yeah, you did…
            “If you hire a contractor to build you a house”

          • Bob_Wallace

            The discussion was about who is called the builder of cars, the people who make the parts or the people who do the overall design and assembling.

          • Joe Viocoe

            and my point, which expanded on your analogy with home builders.. was that the assemblers are the builder of cars. The people who make parts, are the builders of parts. Narrower focus, narrower definition.

      • Brooks Bridges

        These days a car is created after many round trips of 1) making X lighter, then factoring in that now you can make Y (battery pack) lighter, which factors into going back and making X lighter, etc., etc. I’m sure with CAD this goes rapidly but someone has to be making decisions along the way about, for instance, aluminum vs carbon (aluminium has very high recyclability ) cost of each choice, etc.

        I see this process giving Model 3 a big advantage.

        • theflew

          Right because GM hasn’t built a car before out of any of those materials. Tesla has experience with 2.5 cars. GM has experience with designing and assembling how many cars?

    • Foersom

      Indeed with an EV the car design can change a lot in the industry. But a car is also a lot more than just propulsion components. There is steering, how is mass distribution to each wheel, how is suspension, how is the car body designed to ease impact in a crash, how is the interior made practical and comfortable. A car is package solution, made of a lot of elements. It is not just motor and wheels.

  • Jamset

    We need someone to do a road test of this car.

    • Kyle Field

      The production versions aren’t available yet. I confirmed with Chevy at CES a few weeks back that they won’t have any more events for hands on time with the Bolt until the launch. Having said that…we will try to be at the launch and even push for an extended test drive when timing is announced.

    • Foersom

      And I would also like to see a tear down of the Bolt to show what the different components are.

  • Is it March yet?! Is it March yet?!

    • Kyle Field

      Right? ? Can’t wait. At the same time though…the timeline of the Model 3 is a huge variable whereas GM is committing (and surely shall deliver) the Bolt by end of 2016.

      • John Moore

        Kyle, you have more confidence than I do. I’m thinking 2016 is 50-50.

        • Steve Grinwis

          GM has had test mules out for nearly a year. They’ll role out out beside their other 2017 models.

        • Kyle Field

          They have committed to it publicly and don’t have the same forgiveness factor that Tesla does regarding release timing. I’ll go 90/10 on the Bolt. I wonder what the odds are in Vegas 😀

      • I’m more excited about the reveal than when it is actually released. Seeing it will give me something to aspire to and dream about.

  • Jenny Sommer

    Nothing new here. Drive train and motors really are everything that is left to manufacturers. But an EV you can order the whole package from a supplier. Look up the long list of Magnas concept EVs.

    • Kyle Field

      To me, the difference is that GM is a huge player. They normally build their own drive trains. EVs are changing the game.

      • Steve Grinwis

        This isn’t really true though.

        GM builds engines sure. But they don’t build spark plugs. Or pistons. Or manual transmission. Or a gajillion other things that make up an engine. They’re called assembly plants for a reason.

  • Mike333

    LOL. The part GM did sucks. The original design model was much more modern looking, European design, in fact. No wonder what was delivered sucked. It’s not actually based on the design show model.

    • Pointswest

      I didn’t like the concept as much as the production model. The production model’s design is mainstream and inoffensive, designed to blend in and not be a “weirdmobile.”

      • John Moore

        Agreed. I think it is well within the safe range. I’d give it a “B”. The design will keep the haters (the Leaf hater crowd comes to mind) away.

    • BlackTalon53 .

      I liked the fascia of the design model better, but I think all the rest of the production car looks better than the prototype, especially the C-pillar and the rear hatch.

      • Kyle Field

        I’m a fan of the lights and badging on the official Bolt. The overall body style is pretty generic to me. The Volt is much more my style (minus the gasoline part 🙂 ).

        • Mike333

          I’m a big fan of aerodynamics.
          So, the Volt looks “generic” but it’s highly functional.
          The Honda Insight gets 55 mpg on a flat highway at 65 mph because of aerodynamics. It’s literally money in your pocket.

          • Kyle Field

            I’m curious about what the drag coefficient of the Bolt is. I would expect it to be around the .33 (IIRC) of the Leaf but still not quite as good as the .24 of the Model S.

          • Steve Grinwis

            Car & Driver claims the CoD of the bolt is .31,
            The CoD of the Tesla is .24,

            Frontal area is actually pretty similar between the two, but the Tesla weighs about 25% more.

            The Tesla then will win efficiency on the highway, probably, but the Bolt will be more efficient in the city, where it’s worse aero dynamics don’t hurt it, and it’s substantially lighter weight help out a lot

            Given that the Bolts motor is 66% the size of the Telsa, and smaller electric motors are more efficient, I’d expect that the efficiency / range of the Bolt will be better than a Tesla S60

          • Bob_Wallace

            Highway range is what matters most, not city range or electricity usage (within reason).

          • Steve Grinwis

            The Tesla might get a slight edge on the highway. It’ll depend on how much more efficient the smaller Bolt motor is, if it is at all.

          • Bob_Wallace

            We need to compare the Bolt to the Mod3, not the ModS.

            But I’m sticking with my point. Highway range is the big metric, the one along with cost, that matters at this point in time.

          • Steve Grinwis

            Once range is “enough” price is everything, IMHO.

            An extra 10 miles of range isn’t worth thousands of dollars. If GM undercuts on price, especially once they’re confident in the models reliability, that could be an effective strategy.

            I think for the Tesla to do well, they’re going to have to differentiate on looking awesome, and performance. They can’t ultimately win a price war with GM yet.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Panasonic/Tesla might have a better route to bringing battery costs down.
            And don’t discount how Tesla has a business where everyone is focused on EVs. There’s no ICE or PHEV divisions that require their own nurturing. I’m not convinced that any traditional car manufacturing company has an EV division that has advanced beyond the status of almost-loved stepchild.

      • Mike333

        Agreed. It looks like they couldn’t be bothered to change what they currently have programmed on the assembly line to match the design model.

  • Pointswest

    Bottom line: GM did it.

    The motor is a GM design. The shell of the car isn’t a Buick Encore; it has roughly similar outside dimensions. It’s a dedicated EV platform called BEV-II. The structure is entirely different with no parts commonality.

    This was a multi-year partnership dating back to 2011, resulting from GM’s and LG’s experience with the Volt. LG was a battery (and OnStar module) supplier in 2011. You don’t call up a lumber yard and ask them to build you a house. It took partnership for GM and LG to develop the Bolt.

    Now Tesla is playing catch up, and that’s good for consumers, the industry and the environment.

    • Mike333

      Since the shell looks nothing like the design concept, and almost identical to the Encore, I think you might be wrong on that.

      • Pointswest

        Many cars look similar. The Bolt and Encore aren’t the same size, for one thing.

        • Kyle Field

          I’m curious – what is your bottom line based on? It’s easy to say that GM did it. I can just as easily say that LG did it. I’m open to options but need data to support them…

          • Pointswest

            Many points are covered in my comment above. GM is the automotive manufacturer in this relationship. Perhaps Ford, Honda or Tesla could have made a similar arrangement with LG – but they didn’t. LG was and still is an unproven supplier for most of these components.

            You don’t call up a supplier, one that has never built EV powertrain components, and ask them to get back to you in a few years when they have the project done. GM would have been intimately involved in all stages of development.

          • Kyle Field

            The little caveat to this is that GM has never built EV components at scale either. Yes, they built a handful of EV1s and have the Volt (Which LG supplied most of the components for)…but they are not an EV company. LG knows batteries. That’s what they do.

          • Pointswest

            Depends on what one considers building at scale. The Volt/ELR really is an “EV” with a gasoline backup engine. I know it’s a hybrid as classified by SAE and IEEE. That happens as soon as you add the engine, regardless of how it’s implemented. The Volt operates with a GM-designed EV-sized battery, inverter and motor capable of providing 149 hp.

            Including the Volt, ELR and Spark EV, GM has built the same number of EVs as Tesla has.

          • dogphlap dogphlap

            LG had a great deal to do with the Volt so I would not call them unproven.

          • Pointswest

            They had quite a bit to do with the Volt, but their role with the Bolt was expanded.

    • Steve Grinwis

      You have the right of it.

      It would probably be really revealing to see how much of a normal GM car is outsourced, and how much is really manufactured directly by GM. (Hint: It’s not much) I know there are several components that GM just refuses to manufacture at this point, like small car manual transmissions. Getrag is just way better at it. Getrag also supplies transmissions for Ferrari and Lamborghini, and also Ford, and Toyota.

      Plus that list is written to make as much of a big deal as possible out of the LG contribution. Here’ the list of things that should be summed up as ‘Integrated Battery Pack Electronics and Drive Unit’:

      1) Battery Cells and Pack
      2) Electric Drive Motor (built from GM design)
      3) Power Inverter Module (converts DC power to AC for the drive unit)
      4) Onboard Charger
      5) Electric Climate Control System Compressor
      6) High Power Distribution Module (manages the flow of high voltage to various components)
      7) Battery Heater
      8) Accessory Power Module
      9) Power Line Communication Module (manages communication between vehicle and a DC charging station)

      All this stuff is basically “Battery pack, and motor modules”, and it’s probably highly integrated, to reduce the amount of copper wiring. It makes sense to ship all this stuff together as a single module. Nissan does it this way as well, and so does Tesla.

      Like, did you really expect LG to deliver a battery pack without a heater? Or without a 12v take off? Or without a way to fast charge it? Or without a charger? Or without a cooler, for when things get too hot?

      Did you really expect LG to deliver a motor without a controller??

      Because, that’s really all that’s going on here.

      This is basically just a hate-on for something that isn’t a Tesla.

      I also love how the author basically dumps off the rest of the car like it’s trivial to build a car. If it was so trivial, it wouldn’t cost a billion dollars to bring a new mass market car platform to market…

      • Kyle Field

        The list is straight from the Chevy Press Release. I moved the batteries up on the list because they are…important.

        It’s not that cars are trivial to build…just that GM has been building them for decades so there’s not really much that’s new about them. Innovation is happening in the batteries, drive train, infotainment system and charging…all the things built by LG. If there are some other components that GM built that are critical, I’m open. Active safety might fall into this list but I admittedly haven’t looked into the details of those systems in the Bolt.

        • Steve Grinwis

          Innovation is happening in batteries. But not by automakers.

          The rest of that… nope… You really think an automaker is going to sink lots of money into making a better DC-DC converter for the 12v automotive accessories? Why? $20 buys you a super efficient unit, that weighs about 100g and will probably outlive both of us.

          Do we really think that turning AC into DC has any revolutionary changes coming up? Perhaps… Chargers might get smaller, and cheaper, but that won’t be coming from automakers. We’re already pretty close to the thermodynamic limit for the chargers at higher than 95% efficiency.

          Look at that list. None of the stuff in that list is stuff that’s really seeing any innovation, except the batteries, and perhaps infotainment. And as far as I can tell, battery innovation is coming almost exclusively from the Panasonics and LGs of the world. Not from GM, Ford, or even (dare I say it) Tesla.

          The rest of it is going to be consumer-off-the-shelf. And that’s OK.

          That’s what automakers do in this day and age: Integrate 10k components into a working car, that’s reliable, affordable, and performant.

          • Kyle Field

            Summary for me: automakers have historically been assemblers. Doing this with significantly less parts…from a single supplier lowers the bar for battery/motor/charger…companies to get into the automotive industry.

          • Steve Grinwis

            Not really. Anyone could have bought an engine from GM / Ford / Honda / Toyota at any time, and put it in their own car.

            They did not do so, or at least, they did not succeed in doing so.

            You might want to ask yourself why.

          • neroden

            No, actually, GM and Ford did not let people do that. I remember you could just buy Honda and Toyota engines at retail, but not so much with GM or Ford.

          • Steve Grinwis

            There was a company that produced custom sports cars that used either a Chevy 350, of a ford 302 engine. You got to pick.

            You could totally do that.

            http://www.chevrolet.com/performance/crate-engines.html

            This lists several dozen chevy engines available for sale, starting with a turbocharged 4 banger.

            Go nuts.

          • theflew

            Agree 99.999% except Bolt is built on a Sonic platform.

        • JeremyK

          Kyle, you nailed part of it. GM has been building cars for over a 100 years, so that is why GM is able to so quickly integrate new battery and motor technology into its cars. Tesla, on the other hand, is learning all the same stuff about EV powertrain integration, but at the same time they must also learn how to build quality cars, quickly and efficiently…which is not trivial when you’re staring from scratch. Look at the snail’s pace at which their assembly lines produce vehicles at launch. It takes Tesla a year to get an assembly line up to speed once the vehicle is “launched”. This would be completely unacceptable at any other OEM.

          • theflew

            Agreed. People don’t realize designing and assembly a car is not easy. They give Tesla tons of credit, but don’t realize GM has a huge advantage in creating a low cost BEV with a 200 mile range. The Model S and X were created with basically cost is not an issue mentality. The Model 3 is very different animal. Cost control will be the most important part of the Model 3. People are worried about AWD, DCFC, autonomous driving, etc, but I’m sure they’re worried how they’re going to get something on the rode that cost competitive with the Bolt.
            If Tesla misses it’s target and the Model 3 ends up being $45k then that’s a big difference in the market they are trying to hit. It will sell well, but there are a lot less buyers at $45k then $35k.

      • John

        I can’t speak for GM or this car specifically (I work for different car maker), but in general 70% of the cost of a car goes to suppliers. Suppliers typically take the lead in engineering their parts (w/ specs provided by OEM), while the OEM engineers (i.e. ford, toyota, etc) specialize in integrating components from multiple suppliers – note: not hard & fast rule, but typically followed in auto industry. Engines and transmissions are typically produced directly by OEM (with multiple components from suppliers) but many vehicles purchase them as a whole from suppliers (especially transmissions). I also chucked at how trivial they made “rest of car” seem.

      • JeremyK

        Precisely. If it was so easy to build a car, why is Tesla always 2 years late bringing their product to market? Building, designing, and validating the car and it’s components is serious work. Though the drivetrain is arguably the most important part of a car, it is not the thing that the consumer interfaces with. Door handles, touch screen, brakes, steering, paint quality, corrosion, body gaps, visibility, noise/vibration/harshness characteristics, squeaks/rattles, etc these are the things the consumer must deal with every day and they must be perfect.

    • Carl Raymond S

      “Catch up” only in the sense that Tesla haven’t yet revealed their product in that market segment. Telsa well ahead in other areas – retail outlets, web sales, supercharging station-side, supercharging car-side, supercharger and destination charging network, OTA updates, autopilot, map-data collection, EV design, EV manufacture, brand association with EVs. Did I miss anything?

      (Yes, I think there are three distinct supercharging elements – the hardware tech on the car, the hardware tech at the station, and the building of stations)

      • Pointswest

        GM is ahead in putting rubber on the road, which is what I’m referring to.

        “Revealing” the Model 3 in March doesn’t catch Tesla up. It catches them up to where GM was a year ago.

        • Steve Grinwis

          Almost exactly a year, isn’t it?

          Like, I’m sure the Model 3 will be great when it comes out, at least, I hope it will be, but there’s no promise that it’ll come out in 2017 even. Wasn’t the model X originally supposed to ship en masse in 2014?

          • John Moore

            My guess is late. 2018. But worth the wait, I bet.

          • neroden

            I’m not so sure. Tesla’s caught a lot of flak for delays, and they’ve been working on Model 3 for quite a long time. They may finally be getting the hang of schedule planning.

        • John Moore

          I laud GM for what they have accomlpished. I think the Volt is a compelling value, and I can’t wait to see the Bolt. I will consider purchasing a new Bolt.
          But saying that the Model 3 catches them up to where GM was a year ago is just not correct, unless you mean something I don’t understand.
          Carl just pointed out ten or more important ways that Tesla was ahead, that you just breezed past. I won’t go into detail on this point, but look at the charging infrastructure. It’s hugely important, and Tesla is way, way ahead of GM here.
          You say that Tesla “Revealing” the Model 3 doesn’t catch Tesla up. Catch them up to what? The Bolt is just a promise as of now. Tesla has two stone cold killer automobiles on the road now. They are ahead now.
          Hey, I hope the Bolt is a great car. But we pretty much KNOW that the Model 3 is going to be outstanding. We have no idea whether or not the Bolt will be.
          So I share your appreciation for GM and their efforts. But Tesla is still “ahead” in my opinion.

          • Pointswest

            I was strictly referring to building an affordable 200+ mile EV.

            I think Tesla is well ahead in terms of web sales, OTA updates and Supercharging.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Has GM brought anything new, any innovation, to the table?

            They’ve made a smaller, less expensive 200 mile range EV. Smaller and cheaper than the Tesla S. That’s nice, but I don’t see innovation. Smaller means a smaller battery pack. Battery prices have plummeted (LG Chem at $145/kWh) but GM didn’t do that.

            Not trying to take anything away from GM, but not seeing seeing a reason to hang innovator of the year medal on their corporate chest.

          • Steve Grinwis

            And what exactly has Tesla done that is meaningful innovation then, if the Bolt, which will probably be the first mass-market 200 mile electric car to market, doesn’t count?

            Like… it’s all cute to have ridiculous doors and bio-weapon grade air filters and everything, and you can do that on a $130k car, but is there anything on a Model S that required massive breakthroughs on their part?

            I don’t think so, though I’m sure I’ll get screamed at consistently for saying so on this site, because of the crazy bias here.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Did you catch the Marion virus?

            Tesla, with the Roadster and Model S, has manufactured long range EVs which have outstanding performance and totally destroy the ‘EVs are golf carts with doors’ meme.

            Add in the safety features of the S.

            Doors, air filters – those are rich people’s baubles included to help shake out some big bucks to be used for bringing more affordable EVs to the production line.

            Now, that’s just the car. Throw in the Supercharger, Gigafactory, autopilot, storage systems….

          • Steve Grinwis

            Yes, Tesla was first to market. It’s true, and we owe them a lot for proving it could be done.

            But the supercharger? It’s just a big charger. Some of them are bigger than other commercial offerings, but we have 100 kW chargers for Kia. That’s larger than a bunch of the existing 90 kW supercharger stations. The network of superchargers is pretty awesome, but that’s hardly technical innovation, is it? Having a lot of something isn’t patentable last time I checked.

            The gigafactory is a big factory. That’s not really something to hang your hat on when you’re making a car. Ya, I’m sure it’ll be handy, but its not like someone else doesn’t know how to build a big factory. It also apparently wasn’t a requirement for the Model S.

            The autopilot is similar to what Mercedes already offers, and according to some people, it’s behind.

            http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2015/04/25/is-teslas-autopilot-more-advanced-mercedes-bmw.aspx

            Storage systems… Not sure what you’re going for here. The batteries themselves? I still think that’s mostly Panasonic here, not Tesla, though apparently Tesla has tweaked the chemistry a bit.

            I just think if you’re going to throw around statements like :”Has GM brought anything new, any innovation, to the table?” when directed at the first 200 mile range mass market EV, it’s only fair that it be turned, and directed to the first 200 mile range luxury EV, and see exactly what level of technical innovation was required there.

            Turns out the answer is: “Not much”, especially when this group wants to focus on the things that are actually really old hat like AC motors, and inverters, and such.

            The flip side of it of course, is that both of these vehicles, the Model S, and the Bolt required countless thousands of man-hours of brilliant engineers integrating systems, considering the ramifications of seemingly meaningless decisions, and (hopefully) making the right choices, so that in the end, they can take mostly commercial-off-the-shelf parts and technology and turn them into awesome compelling electric cars. And in that sense, I’d say both cars deserve equal merit, don’t you?

          • Bob_Wallace

            No, I don’t think GM deserves equal merit with Tesla, I really don’t. Tesla moved the industry, GM followed behind.

            Had Tesla not brought the long range EV I think the odds of GM introducing the Bolt at this point in time approaches zero.

            I do think GM should get some love for the Volt, they did a good job with their PHEV. But not a huge amount of love because they haven’t pushed sales on the Volt.

            The Supercharger is not just a big charger. It’s a system of rapid chargers that is quickly covering the world. The Gigafactory is not just a big building. It’s a rapid move to an integrated battery manufacturing process that takes raw materials in one door and sends finished battery packs out another. Perhaps Mercedes is somewhat ahead of Tesla with autonomous driving, but Tesla has brought that technology along as they’ve done all the other stuff they’ve done.

          • Steve Grinwis

            I don’t disagree with any of that Bob. Tesla is moving quickly to do some cool stuff.

            What I’m pointing out is that none of the stuff they’re really doing is ground breaking technologically. If you’d asked someone in 1990 to create a really big factory, they could have done it.

            Same thing, if you’d asked them to make a bunch of large DC power supplies. All totally possible with 1990’s technology, and that’s all a supercharger is.

            Telsa totally gets the credit for actually doing it, and proving it can be done, and pulling us into the world of EVs. Props. Seriously.

            But for you to say that the Bolt required no innovation? That’s a bit of a stretch. You don’t get to laude Tesla for integrating commercial off-the-shelf parts on the one hand, and then blame GM for doing more or less exactly the same thing.

            The cognitive bias is deafening.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “Telsa totally gets the credit for actually doing it, and proving it can be done, and pulling us into the world of EVs.”

            ” You don’t get to laude Tesla for integrating commercial off-the-shelf parts on the one hand, and then blame GM for doing more or less exactly the same thing.”

            Do you know who ran the second sub-four minute mile? How about the second person to demonstrate powered flight? Who peaked Everest next after Norgay and Hillary? No blame on those people, but they didn’t earn the medal for first.

          • Steve Grinwis

            Know who invented the smartphone? It wasn’t Apple. Know who had the first mass-market smartphone? Still wasn’t Apple. Know who dominates the smartphone market? Apple.

            There are lots more examples like that. First to market isn’t everything.

          • Bob_Wallace

            If GM or some other company totally buries Tesla in the future then Tesla’s light might fade. But it looks like GM has not done that with the Bolt.

          • theflew

            They are also $100k

          • Bob_Wallace

            The S starts at $70k. Let’s keep it real.

            The 3 is expected to come to market $2,500 less than the Bolt.

          • theflew

            Smaller car than the Model S in dimensions, but larger passenger space than the Model S and half the price. An innovator is the someone that does something no one else has. Apple is considered an innovator and they didn’t invent smartphones or tablets.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Do you have passenger space specs at hand?

            Half the price is based on fewer features and significantly lower battery prices than those available when the S came to market. Tesla’s build cost for the S will drop significantly when the Gigafactory opens. They should be lower than the $145/kWh GM will be paying LG Chem.

            Tesla may continue to sell the S for $70k to over $100k as long as the market will support those prices. If so, they’ll set some gross profit market records.

          • theflew

            Let’s be honest GM could invest $50M in Chargepoint and have more fast chargers than Tesla in under 6 months. People are over stating the need for the SC network. GM’s stats from their ~100k Volts say the Volts 53 mile EV range satisfies 90% of the daily driving in the US and the Bolt has 4x that range. So the SC network would only have a benefit to ~10% of the users.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I do not think people are overstating the need for rapid charging and the ability to drive more than 50% of the range from home. A lot of us are not going to pay a premium for a range limited car.

            If it is true that GM could invest $50M and move ahead of Tesla in less than 6 months that suggests that GM has made a mega-stupid decision.

            The reason that GM is selling any Volts is because they can be driven past their battery range. The Volt solution is to haul a generator around at all times. That’s sort of OK but good battery range and rapid charging gets rid off all the petroleum.

  • JamesWimberley

    Has Apple surrendered control and leadership in smart phones and tablets by outsourcing all its manufacturing? All they do is design and marketing. This has made the company the most profitable in the world.

    • Kyle Field

      The question that underpinned this for me was – how much of the design did LG do for GM? It looks like it was a significant portion which makes sense given the number of critical components LG provided for the Bolt.

      Also, Apple built the market for the smartphone and for functional tablets. First to market means everything for establishing the brand and getting a foothold. In electronics, processors, RAM and screens are commodities but in EVs, they represent competitive advantages.

      • Apple was first to market in either of those categories. It can be argued that the company was the first to make products in those categories with mass consumer appeal, but it definitely wasn’t first to market.

        Additionally, one of the reasons Apple is so profitable is supply chain manipulation. As BEVs start to have more in common with consumer electronics than the traditional ICE manufacturing model, securing favorable supply chain relationships and pricing will be key. What GM is doing with LG is, quite possibly, very forward thinking.

        • Steve Grinwis

          I think you meant “wasn’t first to market” ?

      • theflew

        None of what LG is building is competitive. The motor might be the only thing and GM designed it. The rest including the cells are commodities that are going to be a race to the bottom of who can produce it cheaper (see Tesla Giga factory for cells).

    • neroden

      Apple did pretty much surrender control and leadership in smartphones. Android outsells them by a huge amount. But Apple managed to carve out a highly profitable niche… like they did with the Macintosh back in the day.

  • omar

    Do that can mean that LG can be working on its own car hidden like Apple ? Power train is everything of a car

    • Andy T

      What it probably means is that other car manufacturers will buy the technology from LG and very quickly get EVs onto the market. That is, as long as GM doesn’t have some kind of exclusivity agreement.

      • Karl the brewer

        It also means that LG are quickly establishing themselves as top-dog in the EV supply chain.

    • Bob_Wallace

      BYD was a very major battery manufacturer first. They bought an existing car company in order to become an EV manufacturer.

      Will LG take the same route? Who knows. Perhaps they will decide that they want to be a company that builds the battery/motor/electronics parts and sells them on to other companies to build the bodies and do the marketing.

      Rolls builds jet engines but they don’t build airplanes.

    • neroden

      Well, remember, GM used to have dozens of brands (Chevrolet… Buick… Oldsmobile) for what were identical cars, and they hid the “GM” identity as best they could.

      Maybe LG will sell a completely identical car, identical to the Bolt except for body styling, to a different “carmaker”. And again to another carmaker. And again…

  • Paul

    This is why we could see a lot of new start ups soon solely devoted to electric cars. If you understand drive mechanics and electrical engineering, you can make an EV. You just need a creative eye for the exterior. It’ll be interesting to see how the free-market reacts to EVs.

    • Philip W

      That’s a bit too simplified for my taste. In theory, yes. But todays car a complex and need to comply with lots of (safety) standards. Also it’s not just about creating a beautiful exterior. You also need a low drag coefficient and a rigid structure.
      It’s easy to build a car, it’s damn hard to built a great car.

      • Steve Grinwis

        And a solid, tuned, and safe suspension. And comfortable seats. And a solid entertainment system, with integration for everything. And everything has to be serviceable. And then you have to do all of this for pennies on the dollar, so that you can make a profit when you sell it, and the market pushes the price you can charge down.

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