Chevrolet Bolt Design Director Says Bolt Is “Special” But Not “Weird” Or “Quirky”



During the late January ride-and-drive event in California for the Chevrolet Bolt, the electric car’s chief engineer, Mike Lelli, discussed General Motor’s “regular car” approach to the Bolt.

The Chevrolet Bolt EV sold almost 1,200 copies in its first full month of availability in January

According to Lelli, the Bolt is targeted at the masses and, as such, it can’t be quirky. Quoting Lelli:

“If you’re going to go to the masses, it can’t be this quirky thing. There are lots of people who like the car not because it’s zero-emissions but because of the way it drives.”

Quirkiness is often associated with hybrids and plug-in vehicles and it’s definitely not a plus if you’re targeting the wider audience.

Even Stuart Norris, the Bolt’s design director, chimed in on the “regular car” versus quirky, stating:

“There was an emphasis in making the car special rather than stand out as weird. We need it to work for more than just the die-hard EV fans.”

There again is the “for-the-masses” statement too.

Chevy’s marketing team is even working to incorporate the Bolt into its “Real People, Not Actors” commercials. The Bolt won’t be the focus of these commercials, but it will appear, according to GM.

Lastly, Steve Majoros, Chevy’s marketing director for cars and crossovers, added this comment, which pretty much sums up the “for-the-masses” approach GM is taking with the Bolt:

“It wasn’t, “Let’s take a Sonic and strap a battery pack on it.”

 “And it’s not a single-occupant, Monday-through-Friday car. It’s got to meet expectations for a car in general.”

Source: Automotive News

Categories: Chevrolet


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77 Comments on "Chevrolet Bolt Design Director Says Bolt Is “Special” But Not “Weird” Or “Quirky”"

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Quirky worked well for Prius even when it looks like miniature Pontiac Aztek. Bolt with its range and performance probably would’ve done well even if it’s bit quirky.

“Quirky”, to put it nicely…ok, nevermind, FUGLY, isn’t helping the current Prius in sales, that’s for sure.

I’m talking about 2004 Prius where they transitioned from conventional looking sedan to mini Aztek quirky. But yeah, new Prius is FUGLY, and some new Lexus with beehive front is even worse.

Speaking of Aztek, it would make pretty good EV platform with Bolt drive train. Shape is aero, kind of tall SUV form, lots of room, able to tow. Performance might not be great relative to Bolt, but utility would be the best among EV other than Tesla X. Besides, it’s what Heisenberg would drive! 🙂

There’s no possible excuse to make a car as ugly as the Aztek!
The Bolt is beautifull compared to the Aztek.

How does one retreat or progress from a “design statement” like the current Prius taillights? And what’s the statement? “I would like to be Darth Vader?”

Toyota has been pretty successful at maintaining design continuity and providing cars that don’t look like a joke after a few years, but the new model breaks those rules.


I suspect the necessity for a given car to be perceived as “normal” aesthetically goes down proportionally with the “geekiness” of the target buyers.

The more the car delivers technically, the less it needs to appeal solely to our emotions.

Volt gen-2 was toned down, made to blend into the crowd with the hope of mass acceptance. That hasn’t resulted in sales major growth though. Taking into account the increasing appeal to plugging in, sales have basically remained flat.

Bolt resembles Honda & Nissan compact wagon offerings. Those sell ok, but certainly aren’t market leaders either.

Notice the explosive response to Tesla Model 3 styling?

The Gen 2 Volt was the top selling PHEV in 2016. 2nd overall in plug-in sales behind the Model S. Also increased YoY sales 62% from 2015.

Actually, going for the Gen1 to Gen2 did significantly boost sales. Let’s compare month to month, 2015 (Gen1) vs. 2016 (Gen2)
Jan = 84% sales increase
Feb = 62% sales increase
Mar = 192% sales increase
Apr = 119% sales increase
May = 17% sales increase
Jun = 58% sales increase
Jul = 83% sales increase
Aug = 51% sales increase
Sep = 114% sales increase
Oct = 8% sales increase
Nov = 28% sales increase
Dec = 75% sales increase

Also note that Jan 2017 was a 62% increase over 2016, and also set a record for most plug-in sales for any plug-in in a January.

It’s apparent, that you are trying to rationalize the strange looking Toyota cars we are seeing now. Notice how poorly Prius sales are doing (negative) since the redesign. The plug-in Prius is also failing to attract customers even though Toyota tried to make it “sportier” looking. The lack of a 5th seat was also a major mistake. Toyota is only targeting 2500/mo in it’s home country of Japan, where there is not even any competition. Definitely not a mainstream target.

I forgot to mention, that Nissan has learned its lesson too on “quirky” designs regarding the Leaf. From what we can tell from the spy shots, the renderings, and the IDS Concept, they have gone in a less-quirky direction for Gen2. That w/a longer range should help sales, which have struggled the last year.

The Gen 2 and Gen 3 Priuses were really never quirky. It only stood out in the USA because the USA hadn’t fully embraced hatchbacks.

I wouldn’t choose a car with any consideration of the look, but, still, the Gen 4 Prius, well, I’m not sure what they were trying to do.

There’s a fine line between, different/noticeable and “quirky”. Toyota went full-quirky. Never go full-quirky.


Today this story and comments is about “design”…as we know, design is subjective…potato/potato…it is and always will be a source of conversation.

Hopefully the real conversation is about what the human race wants to put in our lungs.

Go EV.

The Big Issue that will kill this car is the criminal Chevy Dealer Lease offers.

What criminal lease offers? Rydell Chevrolet is offering $289/month lease offers. That seems reasonable. They are also offering $2K off sticker.

How much do they want down, do you know?

It’s not actually $289 since you are ignoring the $3500 down payment. It’s more like $389 (which is not terrible, but still).

It’s best to not pay anything down on a lease. Leasing 101.

Yep yep yep! Amazes me people still today quote monthly lease numbers without ever considering the upfront payment. And then you have people that say they paid $0 upfront, but are actually factoring in a rebate that they haven’t even received yet. Some of us have already exhausted their state rebates by having purchased/leased 2 EV’s since the new rules went into effect, so the rebate isn’t even guaranteed, yet people and dealers still quote $0 down but really mean $2500 down, but maybe you’ll get a rebate to cover that if you’re eligible.

Shortsightedness of cost & price combined with a refusal to consider the bigger picture is nothing new. Hybrids had to deal with that, and now the plug-ins do too.

Fortunately, it’s easy to look past the rhetoric. That only thrives online, among enthusiasts. On the dealer’s showroom floor is what actually makes a difference for the masses.

Including all fees and L.A. county taxes, a base LT with zero options with $2K off the sales price, a total lease is about $16K…From CA if you qualify you $2500 check however if the vehicle if the car is totaled/sold before 30 months the CA DMV sends you a prorated bill…Also the Bolt EV qualifies for nearly zero incentives, if you were planning on redeeming your GM credit card points they are not accepted…

In CA, if you can qualify for a lease conquest/loyalty the Chevy Volt which stickers for $3400 less, can be had $7000 total and the CA incentive if you qualify is $1500…

Also I haven’t kept up with lease numbers in 2017 but it was widely reported the Spark EV was $0 down and $100/mo out the door and you get the $2500 CA state incentive…

Leases are almost always expensive for newly released cars. Remember when the i3 came out, there were $800-900/month leases for several months. Now it is relatively cheap. Same will happen to the Bolt EV.

They have to try to make some of the money they are losing on it back. GM is not well positioned for peak car.
Of course few of the legacy car makers are, while their inventory sits rotting on lots at record levels, Tesla can’t make enough car to sell.
Selling Opel and Vauxhall, shutting down plants, and suspending operations are indications that the alert has gone from yellow to red. If the border tax hits them too, it will be a critical hit in one of their nacelles. Never a good thing.

The conundrum for them is they have a hit on their hands with the Bolt, but they really have no plans to produce them in large numbers.

Still I think it’s a bit too early to say they can’t weather the storm and with the Bolt and other vehicles they still have bragging rights and can claim they can make a fine car, and it’s not quirky it’s just special.

Do you have a pilot license?

The ridiculous lease offers on compliance vehicles were simply to just get rid of them. They are fundamentally unsustainable because the selling company takes a giant loss on each one of them. Vehicle leasing in general is only sustainable on a model if the price differential between new and the residual used value is sufficiently small to justify the pricing. In a 3 year lease approximately 50% of the vehicle’s purchase price needs to be accounted for in the total lease payments. So the lease prices on a $40,000 vehicle will be quite high often exceeding $500 per month (amortizing full lease cost such as down payment). So for instance as an exercise I just used Audi’s pricing tool for a $40,000 A4 and it gave me $520/month as the lease payment which comes up to about 47% of the new price of the car. Reducing that to a 24 month lease bumps it up to $650/mo because depreciation happens quicker in the front end of the vehicle. Why an A4 at $40,000? Because that’s almost exactly what a Bolt is priced at (add a couple grand to base sticker). That’s also what Nissan Leaf costed in 2012 (approx $37,500… Read more »

It’s a brand new car selling well. Why would they discount it? Sometimes a bargain hunter like you has to wait a little bit for his payoff. This is one of those times.

Yep, the bargains now are on lightly used Gen 1 PEVs. Don’t expect a bargain on a Bolt for a couple years.

It’s all about supply and demand. If supply outstrips demand (which it currently is) GM is not going to be subsidising leases. I wouldn’t expect any great lease deals for at least 9 months.

M3-Reserved -- IONIQ?

If GM is selling through their stock and keeping low inventories, they will continue to price what the market bears.

I don’t like it and will keep our Spark lease because of that.

IONIQ really has piqued our interest with larger cargo capacity and enough range for our daily needs while aggressively priced out the door. Just need to test drive one now!

Until Model 3 comes out, Bolt only game in town and no reason to lower prices for them 🙁

If they add the Bolt into their stupid commercials, I may not change the channel as quickly as I do.

I’d like to see some ppl create owner commercials, now that we have Bolt EV owners.

Anyone still think it’s a compliance car? There we have it, straight from the horse’s mouth – it’s intended for the masses and thus by definition not a compliance car.

That horse also said it would be a 50 state car on launch. The reality is it’s going to take almost a full year to be a 50 state car.

Chevy ICE vehicles are release everywhere practically simultaneously.

At the end of the year lets check and see the % that were sold in the CARB states. I am thinking 85% of Bolts will be sold in those states.

And why doesn’t this make financial sense for GM? Seems smart to sell the vehicle in the markets where demand/incentives are the highest.

Tesla will sell at first higher optioned Model 3 in CARB states employing the same tactic. Selling ZEV credits is just another revenue stream. Nothing bad with that. Just another “non free market” force to account for.
Until reasonable CO2 and other emission taxes, Tesla would have to bathe itself in hypocrisy and play by the EPA rules even it is against the virtuous goal of ZEV for all the people, just to burn less money for their investors.
Even if GM is really “loosing 9K” per Bolt, the cost of ZEV credits acquired may be greater than that. Otherwise, GM planners are simply idiots.

It was never to be a nationwide release at launch. Not sure why you think otherwise.

Still doesn’t make it a compliance car.

This is a random opinion but I think the Bolt would have appealed to a far wider audience if they would have made it at least a couple of inches wider and increased the cargo bay by a couple of inches. This would have had the effect of dropping range some but certainly not below 200 miles. And in return it would have had excellent interior passenger volume and quite decent cargo volume. It already has good legroom and headroom but is getting a lot of reviews about having narrow seats with narrow hip room. This makes the back seat less usable for the occasional 3 in the back as well. Also adding about 4 inches to the cargo bay length would have bumped it up from the current 17 cu.ft. into 21 cu.ft. range which is Prius territory. I suspect they overshot their original target on range when stripping more weight and size than they needed. These new measurements would have put it in the same passenger and cargo dimensions as the Prius but with still a ~200+ mile range and at a price after tax incentive within spitting distance of the Prius. It will still sell well as… Read more »

+ 1 well said!

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

It’s just a slightly larger (IMHO) Honda Fit.
The seats felt cheap as hell though but was wide enough for my fat a$s……lol
The rear seats could’ve been wider but not unless they did what you mentioned to make the whole car wider.

I disagree.

It’s normal for three adults to be a bit squeezed in the rear of a small car. There is no need to fix that.

The only problem I’ve heard about in the front is the narrow seats, but that should be fixable with new seats. That is quite a bit cheaper than adjusting the size of the car.

Maybe but then you have a super skinny console in the middle. The Bolt’s interior dimensions are 1″ less than the Volt. I own a Volt and it works fine but it is not super roomy as is and the seats are barely comfortable.

I think they would still have gained a lot by increasing the width to be at least 1″ wider than the Volt. That along with the more headroom than the Volt it would seem very comfortable to most people.

As is it is a compact dimension in interior width while being for all intents and purposes a midsize in legroom and headroom.

Why not give it a midsize width too? Adding 2 inches would make it as wide as a Camry at 72″ and just one shy of the Malibu. And even if you added the 4″ to the Bolt’s cargo area is would still be almost 2 feet shorter than a Camry.

With the 4 extra inches in cargo and 2 extra inches in width would give it a midsize interior volume with a compact length.

People would have just found something else to b!tch about.

Special indeed, but only because of what is under the hood. Otherwise the Bolt EV is a quite conventional five door compact hatchback and that is good. Anyone can get in and drive the car.

Look, it even has an On/Off button! (unlike current Teslas).

details, details… 🙂
Besides current Teslas do have an On button (brake pedal) and an Off button, it’s just four short taps away 🙂

I think w/the flat floor and easy ingress/egress it’s actually better than your std. hatchback. Also a low center of gravity.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

It’s a Hatchback like the Honda Fit. Nothing Quirky or weird about it.

I’m not buying it even if the Model 3 only got 210 mile range. I’m not a hatchback person and I don’t want to support or fund GM’s efforts to continuously fight CARB and EPA on emissions and Sales models as part of the “Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers”.

I agree – the Bolt EV is not quirky. It is essentially a slightly larger Honda Fit.

I come down on the other side, though – a small hatchback is the ONLY kind of car I will buy, because I have to be able to use it to carry things. The Tesla Model S is too large for me as a daily driver.

Small and nimble and versatile, and with room for my tall family – and the Bolt EV is the best fit, so far.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

” The Tesla Model S is too large for me ”

Dude, the “S” is a boat!…….lol

I’m not slamming the car but it’s kind of big for my daily purposes and expensive.

Dude, I drove the Model S for week thanks to a generous neighbor. My previous EV’s were the Honda Fit EV, RAV4 EV, and currently have an E-Golf. While the Model S feels like a boat, inside it feels more cramped than my Fit EV, which had an open and airy feeling. The slanted roofline of the Model S, combined with its terribly designed front seats left me with no way to comfortably get decent headroom without reclining my seat way back, which sucks when you’re used to sitting straight up. I hate hate hated the Model S, except for the awesome Autopilot features and the acceleration. It had terrible visibility when trying to park, and just felt cramped which is so counterintuitive for such a huge freaking boat of a car. My E-golf has seats that actually go far back enough that I can barely reach the accelerator and brake pedals (I’m 6’4″). And the seat can be adjusted fully down towards the floor, such that I have nearly 12 inches of headroom above the top of my head. Compare that to the seats in the Model S, I couldn’t get more than about 4 inches of headroom with… Read more »

It is kind of funny the way this works.

From the outside the Chevy Volt is much larger than the Chevy Spark EV. I love both cars but if given the choice, I actually feel more comfortable inside of our Spark than our Volt for extended periods of time. I don’t feel like I’m in a tiny car until I get out of the Spark.

I’m neither tall nor heavy. But the extra head room, flatter seats, and higher seating position are more comfortable for me personally.


I’m with you. The car is perfect. The dealership model, however, stinks. I made an appointment, several days ago, to drive into the city this am for a test drive. I was assured the car was on the lot, and would be charged up. We even got an “Appointment Boarding Pass” email with our VIP “flight number.” When we arrived, we were told the car was just off the truck, and getting ready to be prepped. But we could hang around until afternoon and, presumably, be talked into a Volt by then. Won’t be shopping there again.

Well, the “good news” to that bait-and-switch game is that now in 2017 the “switch” actually could be another PHEV – the Volt. It used to be that the “bait” was the Volt and the “switch” was a Cruze.

Oh! And I “learned” that if you have a level 2 charge station in your garage from your Volt, that you will need a new one for the Bolt, because the battery is much larger. Just like when you go from a 40 watt lamp to a 100 watt lamp, you need new outlets. 🙂

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

Your EVSE is most likely only 240Vac 12A.
Get a Juicebox 40A. The bolt will use 30A to charge at 7.2KW.
If you use the Volts EVSE, it would take..
60KWh / 3.3KWh = 18Hrs to charge at best.

The Juicebox will still charge your Volt at the Volts specified rate.
The circuit in your house for this should be a 40A circuit with breaker.

We never had a Volt. Had no idea anybody sold a level 2 charge station good for only 12 amps.

Yes, that person was greatly oversimplifying the situation.

There are 15A, 20A and even lower rate EVSEs. Powerpost sells a 14A 220V EVSE. Back when the Volt came out 15A EVSEs were rather normal. Early EVs only charged at 15A. So early Bolt buyers, pre-2013 LEAF buyers and others could select a 15A EVSE and not suffer any reduction in charge rate.

It is even a little more likely that people upgrading from older GM plug-ins will have 16A EVSEs because GM never made a car which charged faster than 16A before the Bolt.

But yes, as you indicate, many people probably put in 30A EVSEs at the time. The Aerovironment EVSE offered by Nissan was 30A even when the LEAF couldn’t use it. And the other popular choice was Clippercreek and they did make 20A and 30A EVSEs available even back then.

Well, if you want to take advantage of the Bolt’s 7.2 kW onboard charger, yeah, you likely would need to purchase a beefier L2 EVSE.

However, even an old 3.3 kW L2 charging station will charge a Bolt just fine….just slower than the advertised “full charge in 9 hours”.

As most people won’t come close to depleting the Bolt’s battery on a daily basis, even a 3.3 kW unit would be fine.

LOL. Honda Fit is ugly, weird, quirky. Literally all hatchbacks are ugly

Hatchbacks, like the Model S, are ugly then.

The Model S is technically a liftback, like the Prius and the Volt.

Liftback is technically a hatchback

But not as ugly :p

One looks like a coupé, the other like a box.

I agree, after buying my first hatchback about a decade ago (Scion xD) I much prefer this body style to the sedans I had before.

I like hatchbacks a lot and I’m not surprised to see their renewed popularity.

I owned two Dodge Daytonas from the 80s and I loved being able to load up a surfboard or a mountain bike in a hurry. They were sporty, practical and economical.

I have a Leaf now and will likely buy a Model 3 when my lease is up. But, I love the styling and the specs of the Bolt.

I’ll be paying MSRP for mine when it gets here, but even I’ll admit the car is a bit weird.

Hey its at least as good as that MONZA.

Asking the Chevy designer whether he made a weird design? Three guesses as to his answer.

“During the late January ride-and-drive event in California for the Chevrolet Bolt, the electric car’s chief engineer, Mike Lelli, discussed General Motor’s “regular car” approach to the Bolt.”

Question: Is Josh Tavel no longer the Bolt’s Chief Engineer now that it is in production? Or is this just a job-title gaffe and Mike Lelli actually has a slightly different title?

Says the guy that looks like this

No style. Bolt is weird and quirky.

^^ Fashion police, look out.

Oh did I need that laugh…They also claim the Bolt is a CUV…

Would love to hear what all the Bolt engineers are currently driving the most often (most will own multiple vehicles)…

Annual Bolt EV sales will settle this “for the masses”…

I dunno what to say. Obviously it’s not for everyone. But it’s a big step forward from the stance of “EVs gotta look funny” which we were at several years ago.

I look forward to all kinds of offerings from many companies. The quirky Bolt is welcome as is as the completely ordinary-looking Hyundai IONIQ and everything in between. More choice will lead the market discover what people want and then they can respond to those wants.

Amazing to see how terrible GM is at marketing their EVs. “Not quirky and built for the masses” doesn’t make you want to go buy one. Hard to imagine a message less likely to catch your interest.

You think they can’t be serious but they are. For example, they could say: “A fantastic value that packs convenience and practicality into an electric car than the average consumer can buy. It starts with how easy it is to get into and out of. It sits high off the ground like an SUV, and without any sills it allows you, your children, and the grandparents to easily slide in and out. And as a Top Safety Pick+, it will keep the family safe.”

Could go on — might mention it’s the NA Car of the Year, Motortrend Car of the Year, Green Car of the Year, a top ten pick of Car and Driver — but you get the idea. Given there are so many positive things you could emphasize. it’s difficult to understand how they end up with “it’s not quirky”. Basically they seem to be wasting a lot of time answering objections no one is voicing.

This isn’t a GM marketing message. It is a quote from the chief engineer from an event where the press and public approached him.

Well if marketing doesn’t prep the engineers with the right talking points, that’s a fail. But I don’t believe this is the case. I think this was the talking point.

Hard to believe I know.

Marketing does marketing through marketers, not engineers.

Regardless, whether they should have prepped this guy or not this is still not GM’s marketing message.

I like it, although I’m not a big fan of electrics.