As many of this reading this may have already heard, the Chevy Bolt EV has been chosen as the 2017 Motor Trend Car of the Year. An interesting choice, and as the article accompanying the announcement shows, one based on enthusiasm the testers/judges had for the model.
Commenting on GM’s long history of experimentation with electric vehicles, and then segueing into the topic of the Bolt EV, Motor Trend noted that “the Bolt EV is the first conceived from the get-go by GM to be a viable, affordable mass-market electric vehicle. And it’s a game changer.”
The coverage notes that with 238 miles of range and an effective price of $29,995 (after the federal $7,500 tax credit is factored in), the Bolt EV “has made just about every other electric vehicle on sale obsolete.”
“Simply put, it’s twice the car for half the price of a BMW i3,” commented guest judge Chris Theodore. “A better car, better package, much better handling, with twice the range.”
All good. I can’t find anything to disagree with there. The Bolt EV seems to be an excellent car, electric or otherwise, though I haven’t gotten to drive it yet.
But then the coverage includes this comment from executive editor Mark Rechtin:
“This is a direct challenge for Tesla to make the Model 3 anything near the Bolt EV for the same price. Chevrolet has made affordable long-range electric transportation available to the masses. Elon Musk should be afraid. Very, very afraid.”
I’m by no means a Tesla fanboy (though I do appreciate how much the company has done to speed up the industry’s adoption of EVs and self-driving tech), but that comment is a bit hyperbolic, isn’t it?
The Tesla Model 3 is in all likelihood going to sell very well, and possibly drastically reduce sales for a number of luxury auto manufacturers. The Chevy Bolt EV seems very unlikely to bleed many Model 3 sales, even though I do think it’s an interesting car and hope that it will sell well. But to refer to the two as competitors seems a bit off — there are significant differences with regard to performance, self-driving tech, Supercharger access, appearance/styling, and other miscellaneous tech (HUD system, over-the-air performance boosting, etc.).
Regardless, though, the Motor Trend article is very interesting. And enthusiastic. I’m looking forward to giving the Chevy Bolt EV a test drive even more than before.
Here are some key excerpts:
“It’s not quite correct to say the Bolt EV drives just like a regular small hatchback, because, fundamentally, it drives better than most regular small hatchbacks. The under-floor battery pack keeps most of the mass low in the chassis — and between the wheels. The front-to-rear weight distribution of 56/44 percent is better than any small front-drive car in this year’s field, and it’s not far off the 54/46 of the tossable rear-drive Fiat 124 Spider.”
“… In our testing, the Bolt EV easily makes its EPA-certified range of 238 miles in normal driving conditions. Of course, as with a gasoline-powered car, your mileage may vary. … More important, our testing suggests it’s more efficient than the Tesla Model S 60, using about 14% fewer kW-hrs of energy to complete our Real MPG test route.”
“… What’s more significant, however, is the Bolt EV makes a solid value case even against conventional small cars. In terms of its performance levels, the Bolt EV is not that far off a DSG-equipped Golf GTI; only 0.4 second slower to 60 mph and over the quarter mile. And after the rebate is taken into consideration, it’s basically the same price.”
Which is what interests me so much about the Chevy Bolt EV — even those who have never taken a serious look at EVs may well be able to see the value in the Bolt. It’ll be very interesting to see what initial sales are like.