General Motors brought something completely unexpected to the 2015 Detroit Auto Show in the form of the Chevrolet Bolt EV Concept, GM’s first all-electric car model since the 1990s EV1. While the car’s wind-cheating shape will be familiar to fans of the Nissan LEAF and BMW i3 electrics, its spec sheet brings some surprises: an all-electric driving range of greater than 200 miles, a $30,000 base price after applicable electric car tax credits, and a 2017 release date.
200-Mile Driving Range Means Greater Mobility
While Chevrolet did not reveal details regarding the Bolt’s power output, its 200-mile cruising range definitely made headlines, handily outpacing nearly all production electric cars. Currently available EVs from Ford, Nissan and Volkswagen, along with Chevrolet’s own Spark EV, all offer ranges of just 70 to 85 miles or so. While the top-spec Tesla Model S can travel for around 260 miles before needing a recharge, that car also costs more than $70,000 even in its base, lower-range form. GM credits advances in battery technology for allowing engineers to pack greater power density into the Bolt’s lithium-ion battery pack while keeping vehicle weight in check.
The Bolt rides on a platform sized roughly between Chevrolet’s Sonic subcompact and Cruze compact cars, though it is taller than those vehicles and features ample seating space for four adults. Concept-car touches like the Bolt’s panoramic glass roof and wraparound rear hatchback window are not likely to make production, although GM says the car’s general exterior and interior layout will remain intact.
On the inside, the car’s cockpit makes liberal use of white and light colors, working in conjunction with all that expansive exterior glass to create an open, airy feel. A 10-inch touchscreen sits in a minimalist dashboard completely free from traditional buttons and dials. The car will even feature an automatic valet system that, when on private property, will allow owners to exit the vehicle, hit a button, and go about their business as the Bolt parks itself. The car will then return autonomously to pick up its driver on request.
Pricing and Availability
After the dust settled from the glitzy 2015 Detroit Auto Show, Chevrolet product planners were repeatedly asked about the new concept car’s “Bolt” name, which sounds quite similar to the company’s existing Volt plug-in hybrid when used in conversation. The second-generation Volt will hit showrooms this fall as a 2016 model, and Chevrolet acknowledged the Bolt may receive a name change by the time it reaches production in calendar-year 2017.
GM made note of the car’s sub-$38,000 base price, which, after factoring in tax credits for electric car buyers, would come out to right around $30,000. That would place the Bolt slightly above most of today’s EVs, but significantly below entries from Tesla, Mercedes-Benz and BMW. Tesla Motors also promises a mass-market electric car with a range of greater than 200 miles priced at $30,000 after tax credits, also due in 2017.