In the small but highly contested world of electric vehicles, Chevy’s Bolt is a strong contender with a peppy 200-horsepower motor and an excellent range of close to 400 kms on a charge which helps keep the dreaded range anxiety to a minimum.
But like other EVs, the Bolt’s initial price is high. The car is scheduled for an update since its public introduction in 2017. The interior is due for a makeover. Shown initially as a concept car in 2015, the Bolt is assembled in Michigan with battery and drivetrain systems from Korea. The Bolt scored as the North American car of the year in 2017 and won the Canadian Green Car award in 2017 and 2018.
For its somewhat boxy appearance, the Bolt is very quick, with 0-100 kms in just over six seconds, and quite nimble with a low center of gravity. The Bolt is a better-looking car than several of its contemporaries, and the greenhouse provides great sight lines. The cabin provides ample room for front-seat occupants. The tester was loaded with GM’s Driver Confidence packages, a 10.2-inch LCD color touch screen, Apple CarPlay and Android auto capability. No GPS though, or power seats.
With just over 400 kms of power, the Bolt provides several days of normal driving to work, shopping, taking the children to school, and what-not before plugging in. Extended drives of say 160 kms and back to see the in-laws is certainly not out of the question. The gauge package which provides all this information, in three different graphic modes to boot, is very accurate. The driver sits high in the Bolt and vision is good. The electric drive is quieter than other EVs upon acceleration, and noise from the regenerative braking is subdued.
It seems that most EVs, except for Tesla and Jaguar’s I-Pace, are quirky-looking small sedans. The Bolt escapes some of that feeling, and hopefully its on-the-way redesign will provide a fresh look to the somewhat dated appearance. And GM must get at the interior, which belies the feeling of a taxicab.
The base level-one battery charger supplied with the Bolt will take more than two days to replenish the battery from a low to a fully charged state. The optional higher-output level-two charger of 220 volts is a $780 option which must be installed by a certified electrician and takes about nine hours to fully charge. DC (direct current) charging which is available at malls and major highway plazas will get you going in about 90 minutes. But the DC charging comes at a cost and varies greatly with the locale. Presently there are 1,300 charging stations in Ontario, for example. This infrastructure is coming, but these charging stations are not on every city corner like gas stations. This is not unique to the Bolt; it is part of the experience of owning an EV. Yes, there are many benefits to owning and driving an EV. Yes, EV makers must recoup their high costs in producing these vehicles, but with the cost of the Bolt (or a Nissan Leaf or Kia Niro) a lot of thought must be given when the purchase price of a comparable gas-powered equivalent costs thousands less. The Canadian federal government offers a $5,000 iZEV incentive rebate on EVs, while BC and Quebec offer $8,000. Ontario has no such rebate in place at the time of this writing, which makes an EV a tougher sell.
Chevrolet Bolt five-door wagon, LT trim
Price as tested: $49,243
Engine: Electric motor
Power/Torque: 200 hp, 266 lb-ft
Fuel Mileage: EnerGuide equivalent, 2.0 combined highway and city
Battery range: 417 kms, lithium-ion battery capacity 66 kWh
Drivetrain: no transmission, final drive ratio 7.05:1, independent MacPherson strut front suspension, compound crank with coil spring rear suspension, regenerative brake system with 279-mm rotors on front brakes, 254-mm rotors on rear brakes, 215/50 R17 tires.
Wheelbase: 2600-mm, 102.3-inches
Weight: 1616 kg, 3,562 pounds
Fuel tank capacity: N/A
Passenger volume: 2632 liters, 92.9 cubic feet
Cargo volume: trunk 478 liters, 16.8 cubic feet with rear seat up, 1602 liters, 56.5 cubic feet with rear seat down
Warranty: Basic, three years, 60,000kms; drivetrain five years, 100,000 kms; electric components eight years, 160,000 kms