After chatting with a few satisfied new owners of the Chevy Bolt this month, I thought, perhaps it is time to try for a test drive again. Last year, I gave up exploring diverse comparisons to my much appreciated all-electric 2015 Nissan LEAF. I had a hard time finding a variety of EVs at dealerships. The only companies really offering them seemed to be BMW, Nissan, Chevy, Porsche, and Tesla. So, the test drive experience was short — I tried the Volt and the Prius Prime. There simply were not other EVs available for test drives in Sarasota, Florida.
What I’ve been told over and over again is that the automaker’s EVs all go to California. I heard this about the Hyundai IONIQ, Ford’s electric and Energi plug-in hybrid options, the Toyota Prius Prime, and even … the Chevy Bolt.
Do we really know in Florida or other states how many folks might have made the switch to electric in the past few years? If there are too few opportunities to test drive or buy EVs, people have little exposure or even outright possibility to buy. I found little encouragement when I was trying to find diverse test drives from the car dealerships.
The Volt was respected by the sales department and positively offered as an option. I drove the Chevy Volt last year and enjoyed the experience. I am still stuck on all-electric options, though, thanks to my quiet, smooth experience with the Nissan LEAF.
Even now, long after the Bolt came to market and I initially tried to get a test drive, the Sarasota dealership does not have a Bolt available to test drive. Somehow, they sell them, but they never have one available to test drive. What is going on with the Bolt in this part of Florida? I thought that the Bolt had so much promise and would be broadly available.
A week after I thought I was onto something, with a promise that they would call me when they get a Bolt into the dealership for a test drive, the test drive was still pending. I drove there to find out when there would be a Bolt available to test out since I wasn’t having any luck on the phone.
The salesperson said they move about two a week. Apparently, though, they are pre-ordered quite often and not available for a test drive. He also said that when they get one on the lot that is for sale, it sells within a week.
Even if some people are pre-ordering them, many others do want test drives to know if they want one. Why so hard to get a test drive? To even begin to know what an electric car is one must test drive.
During our brief conversation, I explained that I drive a 2015 Leaf. I want an EV with more range. He said that the Bolt is a better car than the Nissan LEAF/ How? First hand experience via a test drive would help me to see and feel the options.
In passing, the dealer also mentioned that Chevy is moving to all-electric options only and it will be doing away with the Volt altogether. Wait, what? Why? The Volt is a good PHEV.
The salesperson explained that this change is because the Bolt is just such a success. People want all-electric cars. (Yes!) So Chevy is moving away from plug-in hybrids to all-electric. A timeline wasn’t provided.
The problem is that California gets most of the electric cars. Sarasota dealerships never had a Chevy Spark EV on their lot. The dealership in Sarasota could never get one because they all were going to California. And now I can’t even get a test drive of a Chevy Bolt EV.
Presently, the Bolt test drive is as elusive as the Prius Prime was. But maybe I’ll finally get a test drive next week.
Fortunately, I am still happily driving the Nissan LEAF. One thing I’ve found is that BMW and Nissan are reliable for anyone wanting to test drive in Sarasota. The salespeople are friendly and supportive. They may not be as enthusiastic as the Tesla staff, but they will sell you cars. So, after a week of waiting on a Chevy Bolt, I actually returned to my old favorite. I went to a Nissan dealer and test drove the 2018 Nissan LEAF. More on that to come in another article.
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