The Chevrolet Bolt officially has an EPA-estimated all-electric range of 238 miles. Wow.
That’s far enough to drive from from Dallas to Houston on a single charge. Or from Los Angeles to Palm Springs and back without charging.
But the range itself is not what makes the Chevy Bolt a game changer. We’ve seen longer ranges from the Tesla Model S and Model X. What makes the Bolt a game changer is the price: $37,500 before incentives. Taking full advantage of the $7500 federal tax credit, the price of the Bolt drops to just $30,000. The average price of a new car in the United States in 2015 was $33,560. And that is without considering the savings in gasoline and maintenance.
The Bolt drops into the market as an affordably-price long-range electric car that shatters the myth of range anxiety. When equipped with a DC fast charging port, the Bolt can add up to 90 miles in 30 minutes. GM looks to decrease that charge time substantially by further increasing the kilowatt charge rate of SAE fast chargers, possibly up to 150kW. At this level, the Bolt could theoretically add one hundred miles in as little as ten or fifteen minutes. With the ability to quickly add nearly one hundred miles of range, and a total range (up to a possible 290 miles) that allows true road-trip capability, the Bolt could very well prove to be the Model T of electric cars.
The Bolt isn’t just good to drive for an electric car, it’s good to drive, period.
– Joseph Capparella, Car & Driver
That being said, the Bolt is not without its apparent flaws. Most glaring is the fact that DC fast charging is a $750 option on the Bolt, meaning consumers who do not opt for that accessory will be stuck recharging their Bolt on level two chargers, which can take up to eight hours. This could create potential problems, where less EV-savvy consumers don’t opt for the DC fast charger but are then upset to find that their Bolt can’t charge as fast as their neighbor’s Bolt. Then there is the ever-present issue of dealerships. Many dealerships have been cautious in promoting the Volt. It remains to be seen how well they will embrace mass sales of the Bolt.
At a recent technology symposium hosted by the South Coast Air Quality Management District, GM Director of Advanced Vehicle Commercialization Policy Britta Gross discussed their new “Test Drive My Way” feature that allows potential Bolt (and Volt) buyers to have a Bolt/Volt delivered to their house along with a GM Consumer Advocate for a thirty-minute test drive. While buyers will still have to purchase these vehicles from a licensed Chevrolet dealership, Test Drive My Way provides a direct avenue for consumer education from General Motors to the individual.
Despite these hiccups, the Bolt is a major milestone towards the mass adoption of electric vehicles. The Bolt proves that a long-range electric vehicle can be made and sold for a reasonable price, and that an electric car can compete with and in fact entirely replace a gas car with no trade offs.