Latest on the Chevy Bolt

October 2nd, 2015 by

It was originally reported that Chevy’s new electric vehicle, the Chevrolet Bolt, would be ready for sometime in 2017. There’s good news for those hoping to get their hands on the first long-range EV (electric vehicle) by a mainstream brand, as General Motors announced that they’ve accelerated development on the innovative car. As a result, the Bolt could be available at your local Chevrolet dealers by 2016.

Bolt-2

General Motors’ engineers refused to reveal a timetable for production, so a target date (or even an estimation on how much the production timeline has truly accelerated) is unknown. Still, two industry analysts previously told Mike Colias of AutoNews.com that the Bolt’s production should begin sometime in October 2016, and that was before the company’s recent announcement.

The car, which was introduced as a concept in January at the Detroit Auto Show and later confirmed in February, is a part of Chevy’s electric car grouping, which includes the Volt (plugin hybrid), the Malibu (non-plugin hybrid) and the Spark EV. The Bolt is reportedly capable of going about 200 miles on a single charge.

“We have experienced 200 miles. We’re pretty confident in that,” Pam Fletcher, General Motors’ executive chief engineer for electric vehicles, told Greg Gardner of the Detroit Free Press. “You can imagine we’re going to eke out every mile of range we can.”

While traditional battery-electric cars with similar range have a starting price tag of $75,000 (the Tesla Model S 70D holds that distinction), the Bolt is estimated to sell for about $30,000 after tax breaks. This is part of General Motors’ desire to cater to all car buyers.

“We’re going to continue to make great cars and let the cars speak for themselves to people who want them,” Fletcher said. “And we’re not doing it with just one. Look at this from a showroom perspective. This is an incredible statement of the commitment of Chevrolet to electrification.”

As Fletcher told John Voelcker of GreenCarReports.com, the company wants to make “electric cars approachable to all, not just to the elite,” which has clearly been reflected in the projected price tag. The Bolt is expected to be sold in all 50 states, and Voelcker guesses the car will also go on sale in Canada (based on the upcoming sale of the 2016 Chevrolet Spark EV).

While the vehicle would certainly be innovative, it doesn’t mean that other car companies haven’t tried testing out their own electric vehicles. As Jeff Schuster, the senior vice president of forecasting at LMC Automotive, told Colias, Chevrolet may be feeling some pressure from the upcoming Tesla Model 3 EV and the Nissan Leaf.

Like many in the competitive business of car manufacturing, General Motors wants to have the first electric car on the market. Vicariously, the company “wants to stake a claim to this market,” as Schuster told Colias.

The manufactures are testing out more than 50 hand-built prototypes, Bolt chief engineer Josh Tavel told Colias. The Bolt EV is already being assembled in both South Korea and at the General Motors Orion Assembly plant in Orion, Michigan.

“Effectively these are the bones of the car that’s going to be the production Chevy Bolt,” Tavel told Greg Migliore of AutoBlog.com.

We got a sneak peak at the Bolt earlier in June, as a camouflaged crossover/hatchback was photographed during a road test. While there haven’t been many details released regarding any specific interior or exterior features, Migliore used the disguised car’s outline to come up with some basic, assumed features.

Early development versions of the Chevrolet Bolt EV undergo testing at GM's Milford (Mich.) Proving Ground. (Photo by Steve Fecht for Chevrolet)

“The car also has a tall greenhouse, slight creases in the sides, and a sloping roofline in back,” the writer described. “There’s a rapidly rising body line that makes for less glass for rear passengers, but that’s probably part of the camo.”

Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield of TransportEvolved.com also tried her hand at analyzing the hooded car. She noticed an update rear tailgate, a previously-undisclosed (at least on the concept car) rear wiper, and a considerably higher license plate holder. Gordon-Bloomfield suspects that General Motors may be eliminating their two-piece glass rear tailgate (as seen on the concept car), instead including a more-standard hatch with one pane of glass.

All of these changes can be added to the list compiled during the revealing of the concept car, which saw alterations to the front bumper, the lower apron, the side mirrors and wheels.

Furthermore, Migliore reports that more than 1,000 Chevy engineers are testing the vehicle for competence in “ride and handling dynamics, cabin comfort, quietness, charging capability, and energy efficiency.”

“We really wanted to convey the notion that this is running fast. It’s happening,” Fletcher told Migliore.

This week, we got a video featuring the camouflaged Bolt, with the vehicle being put through both speed and acceleration tests. The car is also shown being charged at a DC quick-charging station, using, as Voelcker points out, the standard US-German CCS connector.

That’s about it for details, as Voelcker’s attempted request for more information was denied. However, the writer believes the car’s architecture could be similar to the next-generation Chevy Sonic subcompact lineup, considering that both car’s are being produced in Michigan. When asked about the lithium-ion cell supplier and the size of the battery pack, Fletcher told Voelcker that the “LG Chem has been a very valued and trusted supplier.”

Of course, there’s reason for car enthusiasts to be pessimistic, especially following the disappointing release of the original Volt. Despite high (perhaps unreachable) expectations, the 2010 vehicle was only capable of a 38-mile battery-only range. Chevy has continually tried to prove that they’re committed to improving these vehicles. The 2016 Volt, for example, has increased it’s battery-only range to 50 miles, and the company has made a lighter and more energy-efficient battery pack.

A big selling point for the Bolt (and fellow electric vehicles) will be the availability of the necessary charging stations, and owners will probably be inconvenienced as they look to recharge their battery. Of course, as Volt chief engineer Andrew Farah told Gardner, the dedicated owners should be able to recharge from the convenience of their own homes.

“As these EV ranges get longer, the idea that you have to get a full charge overnight at home is not so much an issue because you don’t usually discharge it everyday completely,” Farah said.

According to Gardner (who used HybridCars.com as a reference), plug-in hybrid electric vehicle sales are down 33% from last year. Meanwhile, sales for battery-electric vehicles (which would eventually include the Bolt) have risen 24.5% this year, albeit with only 28,460 total sales.

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So it looks like you’ll have to wait more than a year to get behind the wheel of a new Chevy Bolt. However, it should come as a pleasant surprise that the innovative electric vehicle is ahead of schedule. How often do you see that happening? In a year’s time, plenty of additional information regarding the Bolt will be released, so that should hopefully suffice for the time being.

In the meantime, you should give a look at the Chevy collection at Dan Cummins Chevrolet. While you may be telling yourself that you want to wait for the electric car, you may find yourself driving out of the lot in a new Chevy!

Posted in Kentucky Chevrolet