Is The Chevy Bolt Amazing Or What?


General Motors CEO Mary Barra took center stage at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Wednesday to officially announce the Chevy Bolt, a car she says will retail for $37,500 and have a range of 200 miles. She was clearly excited to be first to market, beating Telsa’s upcoming Model 3 by at least a year — assuming Tesla gets it into production in time. The Model 3 will retail for $35,000 and also have 200 miles of range. “The Bolt is more than just a car,” Ms. Barra said. “It’s an upgradeable platform for new technologies. This isn’t some science project.”

Chevy Bolt EV

Chevy has not released many technical details about the car. We don’t know, for instance, how big the battery is or how long it will take to charge. What we do know is that is has a flat floor with the battery suspended underneath. It also has front seats mounted on pedestals, much like the center seats in the Tesla Model X. Those seats provide more foot room for rear seat passengers and the flat floor makes it easy for everyone to scamper in and out of the car.

We also don’t know what trim levels will be offered and at what price. Making some assumptions based on the Chevy Volt, a fully optioned model will cost about $8,000 more than the base model, pushing the price of the car, which is slightly smaller than the Nissan LEAF, to $45,000 or more. Chevy may release more details at the Detroit auto show next week.

Ms. Barra emphasized that the Bolt can be connected via the internet to an owner’s smart phone, allowing it to park itself in the garage and re-emerge upon command. That capability will also be useful if the car is used as an on-demand vehicle for a ride sharing service in the future. Everyone assumes that the car ownership paradigm is shifting and that people in the golden dawn of tomorrow won’t want to actually own cars. Instead, they will prefer to pay a fee to use one when needed. GM wants to be ready for that emerging market and in fact has just invested $500,000,000 in ride sharing service Lyft. 

Chevy Bolt EVWhat is the Bolt like to drive? Forbes reporter Joann Muller shared her impressions after driving one at CES. “It’s peppy and responsive as you’d expect an electric car to be, and handles corners like a little rally car. Braking feels, well, normal, which is somewhat unique for an electric car. In stop-and-go traffic, you don’t even need to use the brake. Shift into low and it’s capable of one-pedal driving. Lift your foot off the accelerator and it stops. Touch the pedal again and you’re off.

“The Bolt is cute – it’s designed as a small crossover SUV – but there’s an incredible amount of space inside, thanks to the design of the flat battery pack mounted beneath the floor and thin, sculpted front seats that give rear passengers extra leg room. Even a six-foot-two journalist who climbed in the back had plenty of head- and legroom. Families would have no trouble buckling three car seats in the back.”

Reaction to the Bolt’s styling has been mixed. Some say it looks like the love child of a BMW i3 and Honda Fit, which it really does. The question is, what will the Tesla Mode 3 look like when the first prototype is put on public display in March? If it has styling that blows the Bolt away, buyers may opt to wait for the Model 3 in 1 (or 2 or 3) years. In the meantime, having the only car in the marketplace with 200 miles of range and an affordable price has to be a good thing for GM. It will give it a chance to build a following before other companies can bring similar cars to market.

The Bolt will be a 50 state car, but we do not know at this moment if it will have a phased rollout like the second generation Volt or be available in all states simultaneously. Production is scheduled to begin in late 2016. So is the Chevy Bolt amazing? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section.

Chevy Bolt EV

About the Author

I have been a car nut since the days when Rob Walker and Henry N. Manney, III graced the pages of Road & Track. Today, I use my trusty Miata for TSD rallies and occasional track days at Lime Rock and Watkins Glen. If it moves on wheels, I’m interested in it. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.

  • AaronD12

    This is the first car with a bow tie that I would consider owning. So far so good.

  • Daniel3344

    Butt-ugly. Reminds me of the AMC pacer.

    • AaronD12

      You misspelled “Toyota Matrix”.

      • Daniel3344

        You misread my comment.

  • baruchatta

    It’s not any uglier than a Kia Soul. Now that’s an ugly face. We own one.

    • Burnerjack

      A face so ugly only a blind mother could love. On payday. The Soul, I mean.

  • Charles Horn

    It’s still a Chevy, the most recalled car line in the world. So owners can expect many recalls and maybe even a Park It No Sales order like the 2015 ‘vette. GM recalled more cars in 2014 than it sold. Let that sink in before you waste your money on a another loser. Too many other choices to even consider any GM product in your shopping list.

    • Raphael Sturm

      Please tell us the other choice for a 200+ mile EV thats not twice as expensive. It might be that it won’t be any good, but it might be the only choice for some time now.

      • canyonguy

        Tesla I think will beat Chevy to its 200 miler for $35,000

        • Raphael Sturm

          I think so, too. But that wasn’t the question. Because it would also beat it to it, if it comes 2020, so it really isn’t an option over the Bolt now.

          • Roger863

            lol The bolt isn’t even an option right now. Plus, the model 3 will be out next year…so…and it’ll be cheaper, and it’ll have a nationwide network of superchargers, and the best rated buying experience…but the bolt will be just i’m sure…

          • Raphael Sturm

            I don’t argue that the Model 3, will be the far better car, I really do believe that. And as much as I like Tesla, I even bought one of their cars, I just have to say their plans never work. The Model S was delayed, the X was delayed and there will be no Model 3 next year. If we are really lucky, some signature, or even just founders, cars, but I would be happy if a regular person could buy one mid 2018.

  • roseland67

    It ain’t ugly like the Aztec, that was ugly.
    This is pretty good, (for GM), so I’m surprised
    And slightly optimistic.
    We’ll see what it looks like all put together in a few weeks

    • Burnerjack

      Amen! I once chased down an Aztek just to see “what the hell is that fugly thing?” Man! It astounds me that such crap can make through so many design and marketing steps and out onto the production floor. How do they get dealers to accept stuff like that? As horrific as it is a national embarrassment.

  • larry

    This is exactly what I want in a car. If it were available to me tomorrow I would buy it.Unfortunately that won’t be the case,they will screw around for two years before it’s available outside of compliance states.

  • James Rowland

    What’s that? No Bolt for the UK? Well, eff you GM.

    • i’m hoping GM has plans to bring a slightly different car to Europe. hoping…

  • Al

    Some great advantages
    1. Whenever I drive in stop and go traffic my ankles really start to hurt from the constant switching between the gas and brake pedals. It is great that this car does not need me to keep my foot on the brake pedal all the time that I dont want to move. That alone will be a huge benefit for many people. If you are at a traffic light or traffic is not moving you can just rest your legs.
    If they also also add the ability to not have to press the gas pedal for small accelerations then I will just cross my legs and sit comfortably when in slow moving traffic.
    2. Battery in the floor means a much lower center of gravity that will make it lot more fun to drive.
    3. For a 200 mile range given most american families do not drive more than 30 miles a day it means you will be OK even if you forget to charge it overnight some days.
    One big disadvantage
    I wish GM had sold this car like the Saturn direct to consumer. Given that the car would no oil changes, no maintainence their dealer network would try its best to dissuade their customers from buying the car.

  • the Bolt will be available nationwide from the launch, according to Britta Gross:

  • Raphael Sturm

    I was very skeptical about the Bolt, for a long time. And I now have to say all of my concerns were demolished, but one. Its too expensive. And thats just because they think they won’t sell more than 30,000. If they were confident enough they could sell it for 10 thousand less, but, sadly, GM wouldn’t notice gold if you smacked them in the face with it. Its just a numbers game, if you spend, lets say 2 billion on development and you think you will only sell 200.000 units, you have to keep $10k. If you think you will sell 2 million you only have to keep $1,000. I do hope it will still be bought in huge numbers and GM will reduce the price eventually, if not, it will be crushed by its first real rival.

    • Steve Hanley

      Price IS a huge issue. I can buy a Honda Civic that will last me 200,000 miles or more and get 35+ mpg on the highway. During its lifetime, it will need very little maintenance. I can drive it home for less than $20,000 today.

      If the Bolt were available at the dealer next door, it would sticker for twice that. A lot of ordinary folks will have a hard time justifying that extra dough, whether the name on the back says Chevrolet, Tesla, Faraday Future or Volkswagen.

      • Raphael Sturm

        Well Tesla has at least the benefit of you not ending up with a Honda, but Chevy really doesn’t have the name to pull something like that of. Like I said, the price is some 10 grand to high and there is no good reason why the Bolt has to be so expensive, but GMs distrust in Bolt sales. If it were 27k base price it would still be an expensive car, for its class, but with everything factored in it might hold up against a petrol car.

        • Steve Hanley

          At $10,000 less, i would definitely be a customer. But maybe Chevy has a right to be skeptical of sales totals? 2015 was rather unkind to the LEAF and the Volt. While there are reasons that explain their poor sales, still there is ample evidence that people are not yet breaking down the door at dealerships demanding an electric car.

          You can’t make widgets for 50 cents each, sell them 3 for a dollar and make up the difference in volume. At the end of the day, auto companies still have to make money.

          • Raphael Sturm

            Thats the problem, most people don’t want EVs because they are expensive and have low range, so to make up for the high development costs and the low sales volume, the cars get expensive. I bet it doesn’t even take 25k to build a Bolt, but if you factor in development and marketing costs and a sales volume of 30,000 a year, $37,000 might not even bring GM any money.

      • AaronD12

        The Civic needs oil changes every 5000 miles, constant visits to the gas station, and significant maintenance throughout its life. My time is worth money, so not having to do any of those things makes the price difference worth it.

        We’re also not comparing apples to apples: There will never be a Bolt as poorly-equipped as a base Civic. Not to mention better acceleration in the Bolt and the quietness and smoothness of electric drive.

        • Nero

          Civic isn’t a supercar and you’re probably another brainwashed guy who cannot do anything for his car himself but only vacuum it, for normal car like civic, you need to change oil just every 10-15k miles if you’re not driving in high rpm’s. Having 2 conventional cars, mitsu 3000gt and lexus gs, last time oil been changed in lexus 20k miles ago. Both cars done more than 200k miles, no any engine, emission problems. You don’t need to listen to the garage guys, they are earning on your “not knowledge”

      • VazzedUp

        Happily in Colorado we still have a $6k credit, so this would bring the base down to $24,000 which with our low electric rates makes this a compelling case financially. Though as stated many times on these and other pages, price is not the sole purchase decision otherwise we’d all still be driving Ford Festivas.

  • Jim Smith

    it is ok. but it is an ugly tiny econobox. Give us a SUV with 200 miles EV range. And a mid size sedan with 200 miles. Then people will be buying them en masse

  • Al

    This will be a perfect car for uber drivers. If an uber driver makes 7 trips a day with average 20 miles each then he would still 60 miles to spare to get home. If the number of charging stations increase he can even charge during lunch hour and probably make 10 trips a day.
    Conservatively lets say the uber driver drives 140 miles a day 5 days a week. That would translate to around 33k miles a month. If charging is around 11c/kwh and the EV requires 27kw for 100 miles then it would effectively cost 3c per mile.
    Fuel costs for the entire year would be around $1k. I doubt even a Prius would be able to compete at that price.

    • ddmmrr

      GM is partnering with Lyft, which is an Uber competitor.

      • Steve Hanley

        Yup. Lotsa folks are predicting an on-demand car future. I wonder if my grandson will ever even learn to drive? Which makes me sad. Who will drive my Miata when I am gone?

        • AaronD12

          Bring it here. I am one of the few that can still drive a stick shift. 😉

          • Steve Hanley

            You are TOO kind, sir! ; – )

  • Marc P

    EV batteries cost a lot of money, hence the cost of the vehicle is high. One thing wrong about GM’s strategy: the Volt and now the Bolt are basically small econobox cars that cost about twice what their ICE equivalents cost. Ordinary folks can’t afford them and rich folks snarl at them since they’re not big fancy cars.

    They should have done like Tesla: Start at the top and then work their way down the line into more affordable cars when volume brings prices down. GM’s way of doing it is all wrong.

    • AaronD12

      Ordinary folks CAN afford these cars. They’re buying Accords and Camrys that are even more expensive, not to mention SUVs and minivans. With the Federal incentives going toward leases, it makes leasing EVs very cost effective, with the possibility of buying out the lease at the end of the term.

      • Marc P

        You’re missing my point and proving it at the same time. Of course, ordinary folks can afford Camrys and Accords and they do all the time. The question that needs to be asked is this: If you can afford the price of a Camry or Accord, want the size and comfort of such a car, would spend the same money or more on an econobox size car that’s basically the equivalent of Honda Fit or Toyota Yaris just cuz it’s an EV ?

        • Steve Hanley

          You put the question quite succinctly, Marc.

        • NotRappaport

          We don’t all prefer to drive large cars.

          • Marc P

            You’re right, of course. A lot of people prefer and buy small cars, but most of them don’t expect to pay $35k to $45k for them.
            My basic premise is this: Who are these cars geared to ? Their price puts them in the same league as mid-sized sedans and SUVs, but they’re econobox sized.
            Once enviro purist have bought them (1% of the population, on a good day), Joe and Cathy mainstream won’t see the value in them.
            Build them in the higher end of the market, where profit margins are higher and where you won’t need to charge double the usual price of the vehicle in EV vs ICE format and you’ll get more sales. Tesla, with it’s outrageous price, is the no. 1 selling EV on the planet. Nuf said !

          • Steve Hanley

            Yup. Tesla outsold both the Volt and the LEAF in 2015 in America, even though it cost almost 3 times as much.

            Did people buy Model T’s because they liked Duesenburg’s but couldn’t afford them? I dunno…..maybe.