Chevrolet Bolt Concept Promises 200 EV Miles for $30,000

Written By: EightySix

 Chevy BOLT all-electric Concept - Detroit auto show 2015

This week in Detroit, Chevrolet not only debuted the 2016 Volt PHEV but its all-electric little cousin: the Bolt EV. The most attention-grabbing numbers were the 200 mile range for around $30,000.

The price puts it in the class of the Nissan Leaf and the Ford Focus Electric. The range is nearly triple. 200 miles will give no one anxiety. Many drivers could go all week with that.

The shape is distinctly compact and boxy, but it doesn't look as tall and tippy as the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive, Mitsubishi i-MiEV or even the Spark EV. It has large windows and sweeps gracefully from nose to back.

The wheels are dramatically pushed to the corners. The resulting longer wheelbase gives the illusion of size, although it looks hardly bigger than the Spark. The wheel placement should lead to balanced cornering.

With little overhang front or rear, the interior space is maximized. Four adults should fit inside well, with good visibility provided by slim pillars. The all glass roof delivers lots of natural light. It may be small, but is not claustrophobic.

What Will Power It?

Beyond proclaiming the range, Chevy did not bring up the motor or battery. It should be a version of the LG battery in the new Volt, but without the back seat hump. Chevy did say the driver would have multiple drive modes to choose from including maximum economy and sport. The battery will allow DC quick charging.

Chevy would be wise to use a revamped version of the Spark EV motor, which delivers 400 pound-feet of torque through a 3.87 drive ratio. One Spark owner removed the governor and burned front rubber all the way down the block for an internet video. That kind of punch in a well balanced compact SUV would be 200 miles of party. Or maybe only 150 if you stomp on it.

Will the Bolt replace the Spark? It certainly could. It's nicer to look at and is about the size. Chevy doesn't have room for two compact EVs. Because of the maximized interior space, the Bolt feels like the bigger of the two inside.

When and Where Can I Get One?

The best answer to "when" is sometime in 2017. If Chevy isn't releasing performance data, then they're still working on the power. A 120 mile jump in range in a small package is not easy to achieve, but they seem confident they can do it.

Regarding "where", Chevy plans to sell the Bolt in all fifty states and globally. That's welcome news considering the compliance Spark was only sold in California and Oregon. The promise of broad distribution shows Chevy is looking for major sales and not just satisfying ZEV mandates.

Chevy Bolt Concept  - Exterior and Interior (Click on Images to Enlarge)

$30,000 Before or After?

Unfortunately in the emerging green car world, price is not always price. Some makers are listing their prices before federal and state tax credits. Others, including Chevy, are quoting the price after possible incentives. So a $30,000 Bolt may begin over $37,500.

Meanwhile Elon Musk clearly announced that the Tesla Model 3, due perhaps months after the Bolt, will sell for $35,000 before incentives. No doubt the Tesla's performance will dust the Chevy's.

You may expect the Model 3 to have more electronic gadgetry, but Musk said he would offer a base model with fewer of the exotic touches. The Bolt does show a familiar high-tech package with a Volt-like dashboard and Chevy MyLink infotainment.

But Will It Drive Itself?

The Bolt will allow drivers to use their smartphones as key fobs to unlock, monitor and set climate control from a distance. Ride-sharing management, scheduling and reservations will be enabled.

Chevy hinted at autonomous features, including park-and-retrieve technology. Drivers can exit the car and send it to a parking spot. Later, they can call the car to their location. The future may not be bright for valet parking attendants.

Will It Compete?

With a price potentially higher that the Model 3, will the Bolt be competitive? Chevy may be hoping for all the Teslas to sell out before delivery, making them the only piece on the board.