Cars Direct recently reported that Costco members can get a swinging deal on a Chevy Bolt EV lease, with the lowest monthly fee at $107 per month available in San Francisco, and without an expensive down payment. The price is higher elsewhere, but not by a lot. This probably makes the Bolt EV the cheapest vehicle to lease in the U.S. today.
The biggest change is that now all Bolts qualify for the Costco bonus ($3000 off) regardless of whether you intend to buy or lease the vehicle. That drives everyone’s payments down, regardless of where you live. It also applies to both 2020 and 2021 models.
As we’ve covered before, Chevy is giving some pretty big discounts right now to get 2020 and 2021 Bolt EVs out the door. The facelifted 2022 Bolt EV, and the new crossover variant, the Bolt EUV, are both coming out this summer. Many dealers still have a lot of 2020 and 2021 Bolts on the lot, though. To get them out the door, the manufacturer is offering $8500 off for people paying cash or arranging their own financing, or they’re offering 0% and up to $7000 off if you finance with GMAC. The dealers themselves are also afraid that these vehicles will be stuck if they don’t sell by summer, so they’re giving some pretty decent deals themselves instead of trying to eat the discount up.
One of the biggest issues with the 2022 Bolt and Bolt EUV is that the charging wasn’t upgraded. They’re still charging at about 55 kW, just like the 2017 did. This lack of a real difference means that Chevrolet and its dealers won’t have any way to motivate people to get the old ones off the lot unless there’s a steep discount.
The cheapest lease option right now is for a 2020 Bolt EV (and there are still many on dealer lots). To get the $107 down and $107 per month, there are a number of incentives being applied that you can only get in San Francisco. If you live elsewhere, you can still get a pretty good deal at $147 down and $147 per month.
If you’d rather get a car that hasn’t sat on the lot for so long, the 2021s are still pretty competitive. With the San Francisco rebates factored in, they are going for $137 down and $137 per month. Elsewhere, it’ll cost $176 down and $176 per month. That’s not the most amazing deal ever, but it’s still pretty good.
Cars Direct also points out that the deal is for a Bolt EV that includes the DC Fast Charge package. The last time there were awesome deals on Bolt leases, they didn’t include fast charging. In reality, that’s a pretty big deal because level 2 charging takes 9 hours, and you don’t want to be stranded somewhere with no DC Fast Charge available to get you home. While a road trip would be a bit of a pain charging at 55 kW, it’s far beyond what most people would ever consider doing on level 2 only.
If you never, ever, ever take a vehicle on a road trip (not even once every other year), that would have been a good deal, but being able to take the occasional long drive does improve things quite a bit for people.
The current Chevrolet offers are supposed to end March 31st (they’ll probably be renewed for several months, though), while the Costco deal may actually end when they say it does on April 30th.
Is This Really A Good Deal?
Low prices are a good thing, but they almost always come at a cost. Not all electric vehicles are the same, so you can’t go into this acting like you’re getting a Tesla for cheap. If you can live with the drawbacks of a Bolt EV, it’s a great deal. If any of the drawbacks are deal breakers, then it’s not worth it.
The biggest drawback* to the Bolt EV is that its fast charging is still only about 55 kW maximum. An older Tesla charges twice as fast, and a newer Tesla charges four times faster than a Bolt EV. Sure, the advertising says that “standard DC fast public charging capability enables the Bolt EV to add up to 100 miles (160 km) of range in 30 minutes,” but that’s the best case scenario of charging from 5–60%.
If you need to charge to 80 or 100%, expect the whole process to take a couple of hours. At about 60%, charging slows to protect the battery. At 80%, it slows down way more. After 95%, charging speeds drop to below home charging speeds, and the last couple of percent is super slow. If you only need to add a few percent to get home, that’s not going to be a big deal. If you’re taking a road trip, the slowness of the charging adds up to a lot of time spent sitting at chargers.
Here’s a quick example trip from Los Angeles to Portland. The West Coast has tons of charging stations, so having stations to charge at isn’t a problem. You’ll definitely be able to get to Oregon from LA. The 55 kW charging starts to add up, though. Expect to spend at least 5 and a half hours sitting at charging stations along the way.
Another drawback to the Bolt EV is that it’s front-wheel drive. GM did this because it was easier for the company to adapt its Korean platform (same as used with the Aveo and Sonic over the years) than to come up with a totally clean-sheet design. The end result is an OK vehicle, but there’s a lot of wheel spin if you nail the gas because the weight gets transferred to the rear wheels once you start to accelerate. All-wheel drive would have been better, but if you can only get power to two wheels to save costs, it’s better to make them the rear wheels.
Finally, interior space is decent for driver and passengers for a vehicle in the Bolt’s size range, but it is somewhat lacking when it comes to storage. If you like to carry big things around regularly, or travel with a lot of luggage, be sure to check the vehicle out in person before you sign on the dotted line.
If none of these issues are something that would mess up your life, the 2020–2021 Bolt EV is a great deal, especially with these cheap leases and discounts.
*Editor’s note: Naturally, what matters to people varies. Personally, I’d put the biggest drawbacks versus a Tesla in this order: Tesla has better safety rating, Tesla has Autopilot and potential for full autonomy (obviously, this is frequently debated), Tesla’s infotainment system (assuming you don’t get in an accident and FSD is smoke and mirrors, the infotainment system would probably be #1), the abundance and reliability of Tesla’s Superchargers (the higher charge rate is less important to me), and the fact that GM has been so anti–climate progress. I’m not saying my order/list is better — just that different people prioritize and value different things. —Zach Shahan
Featured image by Zach Shahan, CleanTechnica.
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