Autoweek Says Chevy Bolt Is Arguably Best Electric Car On Market

3 weeks ago by Steven Loveday 38

Bolt

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Autoweek believes that the Chevy Bolt may not be the best small car on the market today, but it sure is today’s best EV.

As far as range and price are concerned, the Bolt faces no competition (at least currently). Nowhere else will you find 238 all-electric miles for about $30K after the federal tax credit on a dealer lot today.

How does the Bolt stack up in other areas and especially when compared to similar small cars, regardless of powertrain?

Bolt

Inside the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt

Autoweek says:

 “seat of the pants says Bolt is a very good small car, regardless of propulsion source, with more space than just about all of them.” 

However, the site’s editor, Wes Raynal, believes that the Bolt is “almost” a very good small car.

Space is not an issue in the Bolt and neither is quality. Though the cabin is not considered upscale, it’s durable. Raynal shares:

“The materials look and feel robust and tough but not necessarily upscale. It looks like this is one of those interiors you could hose out if needed. That’s not a criticism, just an observation.”

He’s also impressed with the car’s smooth, seamless acceleration and the fact that it exhibits very little body roll. It also has a nice, firm steering feel. But, Raynal believes the overall ride quality is just too stiff. Nonetheless, it has a whole lot going for it. He concludes:

“Back to the original premise of the Bolt being a “very good small car.” For today’s market, the car’s ride makes me personally dispute that. What about in five years, though? Or 10? I submit that no one knows what’s coming in terms of fuel costs, customer wishes, fast-charging infrastructure, battery development costs, electricity generation and a gazillion other factors I can’t think of right now. For the moment, there are a few small cars I’d get before a Bolt.

HOWEVER! This little scooter is priced rightish, it’s plenty quick and has outstanding range. For plenty of today’s shoppers, that could well be enough. Cool with me. For my $30K, I’d prefer a VW GTI or Mazda 3 today, but if someone told me flat-out a Bolt would fit their needs perfectly, I wouldn’t try to talk them out of it. Besides, in a decade, who knows? I might not have a choice. If I don’t, it’s at least good to know I won’t need to be freaked out about it — this is a huge step in the right direction. Maybe I’ve just driven the future.”

Autoweek goes on to get a second opinion from associate editor, Graham Kozak, who borrows Apple’s old slogan for the Bolt:

Bolt

Chevy Bolt rear seats

“It just works.”

The Bolt is just a simple EV. It’s not luxurious or super exciting. It doesn’t do anything special, aside from running on batteries. It’s no Tesla but it costs less than the price of the average American car. Kozak says the average driver wants something that just works without much effort.

He comments on the smooth, quiet powertrain, the low center of gravity, and the impressive handling. Kozak also references the regenerative braking. He says it’s not quite one-pedal driving, but within a few miles you get the hang of it fairly easily and can utilize it in normal traffic.

His biggest issue actually comes down to range. The 238-mile range could be more like 180-190 miles in Michigan during the winter. This means that road trips may be an issue and Kozak believes you’d have to have another car for that. Although, for his week of commuting, he never had to charge it. He writes:

“Road trips are still an obstacle — it would be impossible for me to make an after-work drive to visit my parents in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, for example, especially because there’s no Bolt-compatible Supercharger-like system available for owners to use. Topping up during a long haul means a few hours at a roadside plug. Even though I have other vehicles at my disposal, both in our tester fleet and my personal garage, I’m not going to pretend this isn’t a mental hurdle.

But, while it’s not perfect, the Bolt is one of the first EVs that I can see fitting into my life with very few compromises. It works from a budget perspective and a range perspective, the occasional long road trip aside (speaking of, I really should visit my parents more often).”

In the end, Kozak suggests that everyone should at least go test drive a Bolt for the heck of it. He assures that you’ll be impressed.

Source: Autoweek

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38 responses to "Autoweek Says Chevy Bolt Is Arguably Best Electric Car On Market"

  1. BIll Howland says:

    Yeah, they liked it better than the new Caddy CT6 PHEV, which they couldn’t get as much as 22 miles electrically out of it.

    “Looks like you could hose down the interior”.

    hehe, well, maybe you can.

  2. G2 says:

    *This* was the most honest bit of the article- “… I’m not going to pretend this isn’t a mental hurdle….”
    THAT is the only true obstacle to EV adoption, the six inches between people’s ears.
    Go out and take an EV for a couple of days and ‘Yes’ you will understand the very near future.

  3. SJC says:

    So many are predicting an EV “revolution”. After 5+ years we have <1%. Evolution maybe but tone down the rhetoric.

    1. Someone out there says:

      I don’t remember anyone saying we would be at 100% EVs in 2017, maybe you can provide a link? What we are seeing is the EV market developing far faster than the car market as a whole which means it’s only a matter of time. I’ve said that all new cars in 2030 will be electric and so far it looks good.

    2. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

      Revolution actually does make sense.

      The technology itself evolves. But the market sees revolutionary change when the cost and capability of the technology improves to the point where it crosses a competitive threshold.

      The reason the change is so often revolutionary is that before sales can increase, there has to be new manufacturing capacity.

      For example, in 2004 CRT was the dominant display. In 2010 it had flipped, and from there the growth was all LCD.

      1. Hans Hammermill says:

        Actually CRT->LCD switch is a good comparison. Color LCDs for laptops came out in 1987 and involved a large number of compromises vs CRTs (cost, slow display, viewing angle) and the advantages were not compelling enough (low power usage, low weight, etc)

        LCDs improved more and more slowly increasing their tiny part of the computer display market until they got good enough and the market flipped.

        It took 15 years for the LCD screen to hit the ramp in the S-curve but after that there was no going back.

    3. God/Bacardi says:

      I have heard in the GM forums that folks first thought the Gen2 Volt then the Bolt EV would create a revolution, but they were a very small amount of people…Yet, if Tesla could produce the 3 in significant quantities, it could probably sell over a million of them a year…There’s already a waiting list of a half million and you’d imagine if these cars were on Tesla lots, ready to test drive and buy there would be another half million sold…That would be the best selling model in the United States and quite revolutionary…

      1. DL says:

        Obviously you don’t live in California, cause nearly every frickin’ car in LA seems like it’s a Leaf, Bolt, Volt, Tesla, PIP, etc. I’d say that’s pretty revolutionary.

        1. Daniel says:

          Unfortunately California, does not a Nation make.

  4. Longy says:

    Bolt at 1.6 % of Chevrolet November sales. I call that a decent trajectory.

  5. bro1999 says:

    AND you can actually buy one today, not 2 years from now. 🙂

    1. Nick says:

      This can’t be overstated. This is the best thing the Bolt has going for it by far.

      Long range, and affordable now.

    2. John says:

      Not in the EU. Except a couple of Ampera-E’s on Norway?

      1. Amperaguy says:

        Sadly not available. Europe is craving for car like Ampera-E. They could easily sell over 10k per month if they wanted.

        1. jimjfox says:

          But they DON’T WANT TO…. something to do with cannibalizing their ICE pick-up profits?

  6. Al says:

    Must not know how to drive it. Bolt is the best one-pedal driver available.

    1. God/Bacardi says:

      Not everyone likes the one pedal driving experience, heck there’s a small minority who’d pay for an EV with a manual transmission…Also, didn’t we read the Gen2 Leaf’s e-brake had stronger regen than the Bolt EVs?

      1. Justin says:

        I’m admittedly talking out my ass with no real proof to hack it up but I’d be surprised if the Leaf can pull 70kW of regen with that smaller motor and battery.

      2. desiv says:

        >Not everyone likes the one pedal driving experience
        Good thing Chevy included a brake pedal for those people. 😉 One pedal option doesn’t mean you only have one pedal.

        1. CCIE says:

          Yup, GM is the only manufacturer that lets the driver easily choose regen levels.

          Want it to drive like it’s an automatic ICE, just leave it in “D”

          Want extra regen for one pedal driving, out it in “L”

          Want to stop all regen for even braking in slippery conditions, put it in “N”

          And, quickly switch between all three with the shifter as often as you like. Not digging through menus on a screen to adjust something as important as regen levels.

        2. rgmichel says:

          I suspect that there are virtually no owner-drivers of a Chevy Bolt who do not like the one-pedal driving experience. The nay-sayers are those who have merely test-driven the car, or those who bicker from the sidelines.

  7. Victor says:

    I wonder if autoweek knows it takes the Chevy Bolt one hour and a half to charge to 80% at a 50 kilowatt supercharger?

  8. PJwood1 says:

    There’s a hint in this article Autoweek no longer sees EVs as End Times. Baby steps.

  9. ffbj says:

    It probably is if you want range.
    The Leaf wins in some areas but falls down in others.

  10. Mikael says:

    Now if only people who wants one actually could buy one…

  11. EVShopper says:

    Great to see legacy automotive journalists turning the corner on EV adoption.

  12. hpver says:

    Good to see this article. It’s pretty realistic. About the same conclusion I reached after months of researching before we bought a Bolt: It’s a very good car by any measure, plus practical, plus fun to drive. And between rebates and savings on fuel and repairs, it’s better than most small cars we could have bought for the same total cost of ownership.

  13. hpver says:

    Only thing I’d disagree with is the part about road trips. Regional trips at least have not been a problem for us here in California. Enough fast chargers and L2 EVSEs at destinations to make those practical. We went to Yosemite last weekend no problem. 400 mile plus round trip, plus additional driving in and near the park.

    1. rgmichel says:

      I agree totally that the Bolt EV is a great long-distance driver. I have proved to myself with over 3000 miles of long distance driving, that 450 miles in a day is quite feasible in the northeast with the present charging network. As more chargers are added to the network, I believe that 600 miles a day will be possible. The way this works is that you start out with a full charge and drive 200 miles, then stop for charging two to three times at 30-40 minute each time. The charging rate is about 2.4 miles per minute with present 50kW chargers. My experience was in driving from CT north to Maine through MA, NH, ME, or West to OH through NY, NJ, PA, OH, and several 300 or so mile round trips to NYC. As the weather has started cooling down, I have found that using the heater impacts these numbers significantly, though I have not done long distance driving in cool temperatures yet.

  14. Tom says:

    A year ago the rabid Tesla freaks were mocking the Bolt even though they weren’t for sale yet. Then 9 months ago they were mocking the ‘failed’ roll out because GM (rightly so) decided to sell it in on the west coast first and roll out in an organized fashion. Then 6 months ago they claimed inventory was through the roof and nobody would buy it, even though Chevy said basically ‘yeah well you counted all those cars basically in transit on our nationwide roll out’. Then as sales rose steadily month after month, and production was exactly at what it was proposed without any major hiccups (a couple hundred recalled for something minor if I remember right) then all of a sudden it was ‘WHAAAR MORE PRODUCTION!!??’ Uh huh. So it won’t sell, GM will screw it up, it’s awful, and now ‘see they didn’t make enough’. So what will they say when LG completes its planned expansion in Michigan which will bring better margins and more volumes?

    1. Scott says:

      BOOM! Mic drop.

  15. William says:

    Best Bang (200 + Mi. Range) for the Buck (Value/Cost). GM is the EV Leader, and it looks like they will be out front for a little while longer.

    1. Tim Miser says:

      Actually a long while. Nothing has yet even been announced yet that will exceed 238 miles for $30k.

      1. Tom says:

        Well that assumes:
        a) You don’t count the imaginary base model Tesla model 3.
        b) Don’t count the longer range Nissan that’s probably a year out and we don’t know the price which makes it I suppose technically not announced and you correct….the best kind of correct I realize.

        But I’m going to give a ‘close enough’ to Nissan but still several months away from Bolt direct competition.

  16. Greg Sutliff says:

    I’m a Chevy Dealer. Been driving a Bolt for 1,500 Miles. Have a home 240 v charger. 25 miles per hour of charge. We have a high capacity one at the dealership, as many dealers do. Gets little use to date.
    Enjoy one pedal driving. Make certain to fasten your seatbelt for max regen.
    I have about 15,000 Miles in Volts, which finesse the range anxiety issue. Volt performance is good, but the Bolt is better.

  17. abc123 says:

    Since GM doesn’t really like to do advertising for EV’s, they should really come out with a performance electric like the Tesla roadster… something that advertises itself.

    However, GM needs wrestle control of the company from the bean counters first.

  18. Jacked Beanstalk says:

    Well if they had gone with a four wheel independent suspension they could have struck a better balance between ride and handling.

    Given what they had to work with, I’m pleased they balanced it towards handling performance instead of a cushy ride. Buick will have an EV out next year for those who pine for a road barge experience .

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