In another post, our head honcho Zach Shahan announced our nominees for the 2022 CleanTechnica Car of the Year. Every year, our team comes up with cars that first came available from Q3 of the previous year to Q2 of the award year that could have the biggest positive impact on the world. What makes for the biggest positive impact is vague, but that’s intentional because we want readers to make the final pick and decide what they think made their choice the most impactful.
This year’s staff nominations were (in alphabetical order):
- Chevy Bolt EUV
- Ford F-150 Lightning
- Hyundai Ioniq 5
- Kia EV6
- Rivian R1T
Even though I recently bought an EUV, it’s still a tough choice to decide which of these are most impactful. The Ford F-150 is the biggest seller in the United States, and offering it in electric form can make for some truly huge impacts. Hyundai and Kia’s cars aren’t the most affordable on the list, but they also offer compelling 800-volt battery tech (and accompanying fast charging, a gig excuse that hesitant buyers cite) that makes for a great value proposition at their selling prices. Finally, the R1T addresses a seriously underserved segment of the vehicle market: outdoor adventurers.
In this article, I want to share why I nominated the Bolt EUV, and hopefully spark some discussion and debate in the comments and on social media. The discussion and debate will lead to people voting for other vehicles, but I think that’s a good thing because that’s what our Car of the Year is all about: your ideas.
The Biggest Thing That Led Me To Nominate the EUV
I’ve made the price argument in several articles, but if it was all about price, there are cheaper Chinese mini-EVs that are both more impactful and more accessible to people. There are probably 100 new models I could have nominated that came out during the year, some of which are even available in the United States.
But, the per-capita emissions in the United States are far worse than those in China. Overall, we’re #2 in total emissions, but we’re less than ¼ of China’s population. Getting our per-capita emissions down is going to be more globally impactful than getting already low-emission Chinese households to have lower emissions. Plus, the Chevy Menlo and Buick Velite 7 (basically the Chinese vehicles the EUV came from) are already great sellers there.
I know there are people who would love it if Americans just started biking and using transit, but that’s a big structural and cultural issue that can’t be solved through a mixture of wishful thinking and bashing cars in the social media echo chambers the anti-car people live in. So, we have to look at other solutions to lower emissions, even if all the other problems of cars in cities aren’t solved by electric vehicles right now.
To get Americans to adopt EVs, we’ve got to meet people where they are in life. Sure, teenage me would love something like a Tesla Roadster, but aside from the problem of it not being out yet, adult me has other needs than I had when I was driving a Fiero around. I need room for kids and/or cargo, I need reasonable range for at least my regional driving, and I need the car to be affordable. Having someone install the home L2 charging is also nice for most adults.
Would the other nominees for this year offer most of that? Absolutely, and they often have more range and better charging speeds. But, they all cost at least $10,000 more than my EUV did, and around $15,000+ more than the cloth-seat base model EUV. The average new car sells for more than $30,000, so many people can afford more car, but just because people can afford something doesn’t mean they want to buy the more expensive option.
In sum, the EUV offers what people need, a good chunk of what they want, and comes at a price more people can both afford and often be comfortable making a payment on. That alone gives the vehicle great potential to be far more impactful than the other vehicles on the list.
Americans Are Coo-Coo For Crossovers
We can theorize all day about why Americans love crossovers. On average, we’re older and fatter, so the cars are easier to get into and drive. We want to look like we have an SUV, but still want a cheaper vehicle like a car that doesn’t feel like a truck. We want lots of interior space. We want more ground clearance for that off-road trip we might go on (and some of us do). We don’t want to feel small on the road.
The truth is, it’s probably all of those things, but in different mixes for different people.
GM tried to market the original Bolt EV as a crossover in 2016–2017, but most people weren’t fooled. The car was big for a hatchback, but it was still obviously a lot like the Spark or the Sonic. The front hood, with its steep slope and aerodynamic look, just wasn’t what most people would consider an SUV. Even cladding the bottom in black to make it look like it had more clearance didn’t work.
The EUV fixes that mistake, and gives it both crossover proportions and crossover rear legroom.
The EUV has the crossover look that Americans want, some of the crossover features we want, and
Mrs. Potatohead GM even included angry eyes on the front. You can’t have an SUV without some rage built into the grille, and the more, the better. Plus, they glow both at night and during the day (like the bad guys from Stargate), so we can know just how angry the EUV is.
Yeah, like young Simba, it’s still a cute little crossover, but it’s just aggressive enough to not get called a hatchback. So, yes, it’s a little silly, but it gets the job done.
Am I being a little too honest here? Yes. I’m even annoying myself a bit because I bought the thing and still think it’s cool. But that’s the cultural milieu I grew up in and live in, and that’s what you’ve gotta deliver to get the car to sell like hotcakes, reduce household emissions, and save the planet, even if all this costs you a few miles of range.
So, that’s why I nominated the Bolt EUV. GM is finally offering the car that it should have offered in 2017, and the company is selling it for even cheaper now. That’s why I think it will have the greatest positive impact in the world out of this year’s options.
Featured image provided by Chevrolet
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