WSJ: Chevrolet Bolt Is “A Toaster For An Age When Toast Will Be Weirdly Hip” (w/video)

1 year ago by Steven Loveday 65

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV Roadshow Continues - This Week, The Canadian International Auto Show In Toronto, Ontario

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV Roadshow Continues – This Week, The Canadian International Auto Show In Toronto, Ontario

Chevrolet Bolt EV Cutaway

Chevrolet Bolt EV Cutaway, With 60 kWh Battery Pack

General Motors has grand plans to continue to surge forward in the EV market, regardless of the fact that no one is truly sure how it will look in 10 years.

We can’t reliably forecast oil prices, climate change, or public demand ten years from now. The only known fact is that aggressive federal emissions regulations are here to stay. The Obama administration has issued the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) requirement of 54.5 mpg by 2025.

GM’s answer to this “uncertainty” is the new Bolt EV. The Bolt will be proof that there can be EVs for the masses that are practical and affordable. Bolt will have a range of over 200 miles and a price of $37,500. GM will release the Bolt late this year, a year or more ahead of Tesla’s Model 3. Similarly, Tesla boasts 200-plus mile range and a $35,000 price.

Dan Neil of The Wall Street Journal recently spent some time behind the wheel of the Bolt at GM’s Tech Center in Warren, Michigan and his takeaway is:

“My pocket review: It’s a toaster, for an age when toast will be weirdly hip.”

2017 Chevrolet Bolt In Toronto This Week

2017 Chevrolet Bolt In Toronto This Week

Neil adds:

“The Bolt is built on the Uncertainty Principle. The significance of Chevrolet’s Bolt is that it marks the final readiness of EVs for the masses. No more measured praises, no more wait-and-see. Whichever way the market goes, the machine is sufficient to the task. You can’t object that the Bolt is too expensive, because it won’t be; you can’t say it doesn’t have enough range, because it certainly will. You can’t say EVs aren’t quick enough, because no one ever said they weren’t quick.”

The Bolt’s body and chassis are comprised of lightweight steel and aluminum. GM reports that the front passenger volume is 52.2 cubic feet. The doors and cabin openings are very large. Pam Fletcher, GM’s Executive Chief Engineer of Electric Vehicles, pointed out that the B-segment vehicle offers D-segment interior space. The battery although small and lightweight (960 lbs.), can hold a healthy charge of 60 kwh.

Battery technology and price drop is the key ingredient to the success of the Bolt and similar vehicles. In 2008, GM was paying $1,000 for a kwh of lithium-ion storage. Currently, that figure is down to $145 per kwh. With LG Chem already leading the industry in battery technology and Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory moving closer to full functionality, those numbers will drop further.

Regardless of the uncertain future, with the reality of (CAFE), automakers would be unwise to not set their sights on electrified vehicles.

More 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV In TO

More 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV In TO, Where We Learned First Hand That The EV Will Be The First To Qualify For The Maximum EV Rebate ($14,000) Eligible Under Ontario’s New Incentive Plan

Source: Wall Street Journal

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65 responses to "WSJ: Chevrolet Bolt Is “A Toaster For An Age When Toast Will Be Weirdly Hip” (w/video)"

  1. Warren says:

    “Toast will be weirdly hip.” I assume he knows that toast is already hip?

    http://sprudge.com/this-american-life-toast-54486.html

    1. Warren says:

      I’d love to think that EV’s will become as ubiquitous as smart phones, but I think the next generation will pass on car ownership. Most of us from the Age of Cars will have only experienced smokers.

      1. jerryd says:

        Warren, you don’t understand the Bolt is designed for UBER, LYFT in mind to transport them.
        Unusual for the WSJ getting something right for a change. The Bolt/3 along with the other 120-250 mile EV’s over the next 3 yrs at reasonable cost, especially after the 3 comes out and the others have to drop the price to compete.
        And by then an EV will be as cheap or cheaper than even cheap economy gas cars and only 20% to run, fast charging, ICE’s will be very difficult to compete with them.

        1. vdiv says:

          Hmm, if it really was then the rear seating accommodations would be equal to or better than the drivers, such as separate rear climate controls, more head room, wider doors, etc.

          1. jerryd says:

            except most of them ride in the front seat. But the Bolt has good rear seat room.

          2. Kacey Green says:

            yes, I was wondering what about this vehicle was optimized for Ride Sharing, or did they just announce this poorly with their significant investment in Lyft? They already stated the vehicle platform isn’t equipped for autonomous drive, the same way the pre September 2014 Model S didn’t have the right hardware so adding sensors wouldn’t have helped.

  2. David Murray says:

    I guarantee there will still be people saying the Bolt EV is too expensive, and then they’ll try to compare it to buying a gasoline powered Spark.

    1. Warren says:

      Actually, they will probably be comparing it to the new Sonic, which makes perfect sense…as long as you ignore the fact that cars are killing us. If they spend much effort thinking about the destructive role of autos in the world, they might figure out we don’t actually need them.

    2. jerryd says:

      David, it won’t be expensive for long as once the 3 comes out it’ll have to drop it’s price $5k to compete.

      1. kdawg says:

        key words “Once the Model 3 comes out”…

      2. iwatson says:

        A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush!

    3. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      David Murray said:

      “I guarantee there will still be people saying the Bolt EV is too expensive…”

      And as far as a direct comparison to the sales price of gasmobiles, they will be correct in that assessment.

      Of the top 10 best-selling cars in the USA, the most expensive is just over $23k (see list below); the Bolt’s target MSRP is $37,500. Even for those lucky enough to qualify for a full Federal income tax credit, that still comes to $30,000.

      Now, I don’t at all mean to belittle GM’s efforts here. To jump from the ~83-mile, Leaf to the 200+ mile Bolt is a quantum jump improvement in mass-produced BEVs. The Bolt is a bold statement from GM, clearly staking out their claim in the new territory, and pointing strongly to higher range, even lower cost, compelling BEVs in the near future.

      And yes, I’m quite familar with the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) argument; the argument that over the lifetime of a car, the plug-in EV will be cheaper because electricity is much cheaper than fuel, and the cost of maintenance for a mechanically simpler vehicle should be lower, at least in theory. Unfortunately, most car buyers consider only the cost of monthly payments, not the long-term TCO.

      Let’s not make the mistake of thinking the Bolt is gonna be, for EVs, what the Ford Model T was for gasmobiles. The “everyman” plug-in EV is still down the road a bit. $30,000 is still in the price category above best-selling car.

      GM doesn’t expect the car to be a best-seller, either. They plan for producing only 20,000-30,000 in the first year. By comparison, the Toyota Camry (top seller on the list below) sold 754,154 units in 2015.

      * * * * *

      Source for the cars on the list below: “Top 20 Best-Selling Cars In America – July 2015”, from Good Car Bad Car.net. Source for MSRPs: Google

      (All prices given are MSRP)

      Toyota Camry $23,070
      Honda Accord $22,205
      Nissan Altima $22,500
      Honda Civic $18,640
      Toyota Corolla $17,300
      Ford Fusion $22,110
      Hyundai Sonata $21,750
      Hyundai Elantra $17,250
      Chevrolet Cruze $16,620
      Nissan Sentra $16,780

      http://www.goodcarbadcar.net/2015/08/usa-best-selling-car-sales-figures-july-2015-ytd.html

      Of course, this ignores the best-selling light trucks, some (most?) of which are more expensive. But those are larger vehicles with more “utility”, and are perceived by the average car buyer as being worth a higher price. The Bolt isn’t larger, and doesn’t have greater utility.

      1. fotomoto says:

        “Source for the cars on the list below: “Top 20 Best-Selling Cars In America – July 2015”, from Good Car Bad Car.net. Source for MSRPs: Google

        (All prices given are MSRP)

        Toyota Camry $23,070”

        Those are base prices. Like unicorns, nearly impossible to find in the wild.

        1. Stimpy says:

          Exactly. Pretty much undermined this whole argument. Average sales price of all cars on the US is $35k

          1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            So, what would you estimate the average sale price of a Bolt will be? Something like $45-47k?

            No, that didn’t undermine my argument at all. You just didn’t think it through.

            1. KenC says:

              From reading the Chevy Volt forums, most buyers of the 16 Volt bought the base model with very few options. If you search the Chevy website for inventory in your area, the vast majority are the base model with very few options.

        2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          And the $37,500 target price for the Bolt is, supposedly, the MSRP too.

          So what’s your point? I don’t see that you have one.

          1. fotomoto says:

            I do have one: that your original point is wrong. Entry level MSRP from any company is rare (unicorns) and not the typical price paid.

            Most customers don’t like nor want the base models and the Bolt will be the same but that doesn’t make your point right. As someone pointed out, the avg. priced paid for a new car is north of $30k.

            1. Mint says:

              You’re nitpicking. Base configuration of the Bolt and Cruz will not make up for even half of the $13k difference in post-rebate MSRP, let alone the $21k difference in full MSRP.

              People saying the Bolt is too expensive will be justified.

              Tesla is positioning the Model 3 as a 3-series and C-class competitor. In that segment, $40k isn’t overpriced. But many people call that whole segment overpriced, and it is. There’s a good 5 years to go before the “too expensive” argument goes away, unless oil goes up again.

  3. Texas FFE says:

    I first posted this information to the Opal Ampera-e article but this is important information related to the Bolt and is more appropriately posted here. NRG EVgo has a charging program listed on their website called Recharge For No Charge, https://www.nrgevgo.com/ev-charging-business/recharge-for-no-charge/. This program allows new Chevy, Cadillac and Porsche owners to charge for free, including DCFC, for 26 months but only in the DFW and Houston areas. One interesting aspect of this program is that none of these manufacturers sell DCFC capable cars in Texas. This information makes me think that the manufacturers are preparing for introduction of the Bolt and other DCFC capable EVs.

    We have heard from a variety of sources that GM will not fund charging infrastructure but the information on the EVgo website indicates that they are. GM has always been listed as a EVgo partner so it doesn’t surprise me that a charging program benefiting GM owners shows up on the EVgo website.

    1. Texas FFE says:

      Something funny is going on with Recharge For No Charge program right now. The program disappeared from the EVgo Specials Offers page but can still be found with a search. When you look at the page found with the search the statement that the program is only good for the DFW and Houston areas has disappeared. Maybe EVgo is revising the program allowing it to be available across the country or maybe they are just cancelling the program and haven’t deleted all the web pages yet.

      1. SparkEV says:

        Well, I hope they don’t have free charging with Bolt! Imagine if Bolt gets free charging, and each session takes an hour. There will be waiting an hour just to get that “10 minutes” pick up charge to get home. When it’s free, people will use it as much as they possibly can, leading to bad experience for everyone. That’s a very good way to kill EV adoption. Free charging SUCKS!

        1. Texas FFE says:

          I understand your concern but I don’t see free causing much trouble yet. There’s a new charging station where I work that has become my primary charging location. I charge there because they charge less for electricity than I pay for at home and I am pretty much the only one that charges there regularly.

          I think if free charging helps boost EV sales then I’m all for it. Of course if I had to wait for someone to finish charging in an area that had a high level of EV adoption then my attitude might change. Where I live I usually have EV chargers all to myself and the biggest problem is non-EVs using the parking spots.

        2. Texas FFE says:

          You know, the website doesn’t even say the EV has to be new. You should contact your dealer and EVgo, maybe you quality. Maybe your tune will change if they start giving you free electricity.

        3. JeremyK says:

          I doubt many people will need that “pick up” charge with a 200 mile range.

  4. pk says:

    I want a gluten free Bolt please.

    1. Sublime says:

      The Model 3 will be free range (SC enabled), LG free, and have a vegan approved pleather option.

      1. DocDragon says:

        ^^ Good one!!! *LOL*

      2. kubel says:

        So at $35,000, the Model 3 will include SC? I doubt it.

  5. If I am going with an OEM EV, instead of a DIY EV Conversion, I generally expect more! In the case of the Bolt, it seems it still falls short on my Toronto to Bracebridge and back after work run (4 hour drive)! That was according to yhe US Bolt website range calculator!

    1. EVGuy says:

      Looks guys, it’s a great leap forward in battery automotive technology, I for one am ecstatic. I’ve owned a Gen I volt from the day they were offered.
      The Bolt is not for everyone. I don’t understand why people keep saying they need more range. If it fits your life style great, if it doesn’t then don’t buy it. Right?

    2. EVGuy says:

      Look guys, it’s a great leap forward in battery automotive technology, I for one am ecstatic. I’ve owned a Gen I volt from the day they were offered.
      The Bolt is not for everyone. I don’t understand why people keep saying they need more range. If it fits your life style great, if it doesn’t then don’t buy it. Right?

    3. kdawg says:

      Google maps says 198km or 123 miles. That’s well within the Bolt range with some buffer in there as well.

      1. Aaron says:

        Just goes to show you: You cannot please everyone. 100 miles range? I want 200! 200 miles range? I want 400! 400 miles range? I want 800!

  6. RexxSee says:

    “aggressive federal emissions regulations” ? Really?

    Requiring 10% of Zero Emission vehicle would be… like it was in 1994 before BiG Oil and Bush sabotaged CARB.

    1. Warren says:

      Yes. The federal auto regulations are an inadequate joke, which allows Dems to appear concerned, and gives the Reps a strawman to scream about.

    2. ModernMarvelFan says:

      “ike it was in 1994 before BiG Oil and Bush sabotaged CARB.”

      Hmmm…

      I didn’t know Bush were in office back in 1994.

      1. scott franco says:

        🙂

      2. Open-Mind says:

        Be careful injecting reality that conflicts with the subject’s programming. It can lead to violence.

      3. RexxSee says:

        The goals of 1994 were to get 10% by 2003.

        1. RexxSee says:

          And every one knows what happened, Big Oil and Bush sued California while car companies discontinued and crushed the first wave of EVs.

          1. RexxSee says:

            And GM sold the Ovonic rights to Texaco.

  7. RexxSee says:

    54 miles per gallon will only lower THE INCREASE OF TOXICS.
    We won’t even get a flat curve by then!
    ICE must go! NOW!

    But we all know who is in charge around PetroLand, and the last time I checked, it was surely not the politicians!

    1. Djoni says:

      Unfortunately, it won’t stop toxic gas.
      It will just spread among more and bigger ICE vehicle that are increasingly bought.
      Bottom line, has it is, it won’t change a thing.
      Unless, Saudi, Putin, Iran and all those provider choose to stop flooding the world with cheap gas.

  8. ffbj says:

    “We can’t reliably forecast oil prices, climate change, or public demand ten years from now.”

    Really? With the Earth having the warmest decade on record, a fact just past I think I can reliably predict the next decade will be warmer, or just as warm.

    Even if all of OPEC froze the production the current oil glut will continue for many years. We can reliably predict if this continues, and there is a good chance it will, gasoline will stay cheap for many years to come. Supply is up demand is down.
    Econ 101.

    Demand for evs continues to rise even in less favorable environment. Currently there are only a few offerings in mass market segment, when the 200 mpc offerings from GM and Tesla become widely available demand will most certainly rise, and so will the instance of evs on the road. Incidentally lowering demand for oil, and keeping gas prices low.

    So while it is true that people wildly inaccurate predictions, in this case I think that it’s fairly easy to make a reasonably accurate predictions regarding these questions.

    I hesitate to say it, since all the facts are not in, but I think I can reliably predict that the writer of this article is an idiot.

  9. Daniel says:

    Toaster, indeed. There is only “one” stylish and compelling BEV in the market and it is the Model S. And ( perhaps Model X ?) but that remains to be seen.

    The rest are cramped compacts that are “not very compelling” appliances, that by and large are NOT very pleasing to the eye.

    1. sault says:

      According to your subjective opinion. Plenty of people buy cars in the same size segment as the Bolt, way more than the planned production run for the first few years.

  10. pjwood1 says:

    Nobody has taken the Bolt up to speed, yet, and the reviews have been uneven in their speculation of how a car designed by an SCCA veteran might handle. “toast” comes from another writer. then again, we all like crisp handling 😉

  11. GeorgeS says:

    If you want a good laugh read the comments section after the WSJ article.

  12. Loboc says:

    Two things from the vid:

    1. A gas pump handle is the dirtiest thing you touch. As far as germs.
    2. A giant move in the automotive industry is coming and we don’t know where it is going. Autonomy or non-ownership models or alt-fuels or all of the above.

    The guy doing the video is off-the-chain!

    1. SparkEV says:

      If it weren’t for my personal observation of some guy sneezing all over gas pump handle, I wouldn’t have believed that that could be the dirtiest thing. We talk about climate change disasters in decades time, but gas pump could potentially kill you in matter of days!

    2. Anon says:

      Actually I’ll take a gas pump handle under a nice awning over the horrible mud and ice encrusted level 2 public charging plug I used last weekend. BUT my installation in my clean and toasty garage is consistent with your “gas pumps are dirtier” assertion. They really should make the public charging ones retractable or something so they can’t just be tossed in a mud puddle/snowbank, though.

      1. kdawg says:

        There’s a Wattstation near me that has a retractable cable.

    3. kdawg says:

      Apparently a sponge & money are some of the dirtiest things.

      From Mythbusters:

      http://mythresults.com/hidden-nasties

      Results
      1 kitchen sponge (most colonies)
      2 money
      3 light switch
      4 computer keyboard
      5 hotel remote
      6 shopping cart
      7 cell phone
      8 toilet seat (fewest colonies)

  13. Omar Sultan says:

    I think GM has done a commendable job getting a compelling EV to market. The weak link in the chain; however, remains the dealer network. I am not sure how successful the Bolt will be until we have some phantom shoppers show up and catalog what the actual buying experience is like.

  14. Mister G says:

    If Republicans control all branches of government CAFE standards will be rolled back.

    1. Texas FFE says:

      You don’t know your laws or your politics very well. Nobody is going to roll back the CAFE standards. The CAFE standards have been around since 1975 and were most recently revised under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA07). EISA07 is a very powerful and important sustainability law that was signed by President Bush. As far as sustainability goes, President Obama has done little more than to implement and inforce EISA07. The only way to roll back the CAFE standard is to repeal EISA07 and that is not going to happen.

  15. scott franco says:

    “We can’t reliably forecast oil prices, climate change, or public demand ten years from now. ”

    I don’t care if Taylor Swift is giving out free gas in a bikini.

    Burning gas and then breathing it in is a supremely dumb thing to do.

    And I am a global warming denier.

  16. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    What is at the root of the American love affair with the automobile? Owning a personal car gives us a sense of freedom, and empowerment; the ability to go anywhere at anytime.

    I don’t know anybody who gets a sense of empowerment or freedom from owning a toaster.

    Perhaps Dan Neil of The Wall Street Journal has, ahem, a “thing” for making toast? 😀

  17. scott franco says:

    “GM was burned”…

    How the hell were they “burned”? They introduced a car because California made them do it, then they lobbied to drop the requirement, then then recalled and crushed the cars. They could have just done nothing, just like all the other car makers.

    Unless of course “burned” means they got a bad rap from acting like control freak psychos. I think they own some responsibility for that.

    1. Omar Sultan says:

      +1

    2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      scott franco said:

      “They [GM] introduced a car because California made them do it, then they lobbied to drop the requirement, then then recalled and crushed the cars. They could have just done nothing, just like all the other car makers.”

      Seriously, scott, this rubbish again? You’ve got cause and effect mixed up.

      The original, 1998 CARB mandate for zero-emission vehicles was not the cause of GM announcing it was gonna put the EV1 into production; it was an effect of that.

      Yes, very definitely GM got “burned” by the EV1 program. They produced a limited number of EV1s as a test market vehicle, to see what the market was at that time for BEVs. But the very fact that GM actually put it into even very limited production got a lot of “Green” activists and California politicians greatly over-excited, and they created a galactically unrealistic zero-emission mandate; a mandate no auto maker could possibly meet and still make a profit.

      scott, if you doubt what I write here is true, just read Wikipedia’s account of the history of the EV1:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Motors_EV1#Origins

      The documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car?” has made things worse, by claiming — completely and utterly contrary to facts and the Truth — that batteries were “not guilty” of killing the EV1. Battery tech at that time was woefully inadequate; batteries were much too bulky and expensive for any auto maker to make a profit selling BEVs. One only needs to look at the cars Tesla is currently selling to see that’s true. Tesla, the only auto maker to be making a noticeable profit selling highway-capable BEV cars outside China, even now still isn’t selling an “affordable” BEV.

      So if GM was reluctant to put a toe back in that same pool, after getting burned so badly the first time, it’s hardly a surprise. It’s no surprise to me, and shouldn’t be to anyone who really understands what happened, that GM’s next foray beyond a mere compliance car was the Volt; a robust PHEV, rather than another BEV.

      We should be glad and very grateful to GM that it’s actually putting the Bolt into production, and in greater numbers than a mere compliance car. Hopefully this time, the “greenies” and California politicians will exhibit more intelligence and sense, letting competition drive the EV revolution… rather than foolishly trying to mandate invention and affordability by government fiat.

  18. Unplugged says:

    For those who don’t have a subscription to the WSJ, here is a free link to Dan Neil’s article:
    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/chevys-new-bolt-is-it-good-enough-for-a-future-of-electric-cars-2016-02-13