Electric vehicle technology has not seen the same levels of adoption as hybrids from major automakers. This is partly due to the ungodly sum required for the ground up development of such cars and the general lack of infrastructure supporting such vehicles in most countries. However, with mounting fuel prices and the governments offering vast tax benefits for EVs, the race to build the first truly accessible long range electric vehicle was on.
With names such as Tesla and BMW being experts’ favorites, GM surprised the world by unveiling the Chevy Bolt earlier this month at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show and beat its rivals to showcase the world’s first accessible long range EV. We take a look at what the Chevy Bolt offers and whether the American hatch can really replace its petrol powered rivals.
The upcoming Chevy Bolt is a stylish hatchback similar in many aspects to the Spark (better known as the Beat here in India). The front fascia sports an all black plastic grille that features tastefully inserted detailing. Both the grille and the bumper lack the conventional air dams in most fossil fuel driven cars to improve aerodynamics. While petrol and diesel driven vehicles require cooling in the form of air flow to the engine bay, the Bolt’s electric drivetrain allows for a more interesting front fascia design.
The rear plays host to a pair of full LED tail lamps with a heavily sculpted bumper better suited on more muscular cars such as the Colorado or the Canyon. The mix of muscle and urban sport makes for an extremely attractive electric vehicle.
The interior of the Chevy Bolt is far more modern than any of its conventional rivals. The dashboard plays host to a large landscape oriented display for the infotainment system with controls for seat adjustment and climate control located beneath it. Chevy has done away with analog displays for the instrument cluster and has replaced it with a high res multi function LCD display. The driver is greeted by the instantly familiar three spoke Chevy steering wheelWhile the dashboard is one of the best in the hatchback market, little else within the cabin is pleasing to the eye. The dull gray/white upholstery is rather conventional and is a far cry from the Bolt’s exterior and dashboard design. Chevy has also managed to fit in numerous cubby holes around the interior to further increase usability. Although the Bolt sports a seemingly ordinary cabin for an revolutionary product, one must keep in mind that the Bolt is to be an accessible EV.
Under The Hood
Powering the Chevrolet Bolt’s motor is a 60 kWh lithium ion battery. The motor produces an impressive 200 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque, 59 horsepower more than Chevy’s other electric hatch: Spark. However, the new Bolt is a whopping 290 kg heavier than the Spark. Chevy’s electric hatch can also deliver upto 50 miles of range with 2 hours of charge on a 240 V socket. The American automaker also stated that with a 480 V DC power supply, the Bolt hatch can get 90 miles of juice in half an hour. While the Bolt does not feature record breaking performance stats, the car’s main selling point is its range. Chevy claims that the Bolt EV can manage 200 miles on a single charge, one of the longest in the market.
With a base price of 37,500 USD prior to any incentives that may be applicable in the US, the Chevrolet Bolt is one of the most accessible electric hatchbacks money can buy. Although the BMW i3 provides a more futuristic experience, the Bolt aims at being an affordable, comfortable car that also avoids terrorizing the atmosphere.