Chevrolet Bolt EV: Long On Utility, Short On Sexy – It’s The Anti-Tesla, And It Works
Bloomberg calls the all-new Chevrolet Bolt EV the “anti-Tesla.” Essentially it is everything that Tesla is not.
“It’s unlikely the Bolt will crush Tesla’s nascent Model 3. It has made essentially the anti-Tesla, a vehicle long on utility and short on sexy.
What the Bolt will do is lure thousands of buyers who would otherwise buy a conventional car and immediately make obsolete almost every other electric car on the road. At this very moment, thousands of Nissan Leaf owners are quietly kicking themselves.”
The Bolt is surely not the car for those looking for luxury.
If you want a premium interior experience, you will have to look elsewhere (we should note it does have leather seating as an option). And although it is crossover-ish, it’s not going to tow anything. And despite having the best range of any all-electric on the market (in its price range), long road trips to more remote areas in the US should not be on your list, as the CCS fast charging network is still not very mature.
With all of this being said, GM has achieved a long-range, affordable electric car, that is quite practical. In order to achieve the latter, some features just aren’t possible. The Bolt has not received loads of praise for its striking good looks. But, it has an outstanding amount of interior space. This is not much different than vehicles like the Honda Fit or the BMW i3, but very much unlike Tesla.
Interior materials are mostly low cost plastics and rubbers. Nothing soft-touch or inviting. Bloomberg jokes:
“The cockpit is a cheap collage of plastic and hard rubber that feels down-market even on a $30,000 vehicle. It is “nice” in the way Ikea furniture is “nice,” which is to say it is thoughtful, pragmatic, and not terrible looking. You just don’t want to touch it too much.”
However, with today’s focus on technology, GM didn’t skimp where the masses will notice most. A 10.2-inch intuitive touchscreen and a fancy 8-inch digital gauge cluster enhance the otherwise Spartan interior. Aside from this, range and price came first, well above anything else. Darin Gesse, senior manager of GM product strategy, explained:
“We talked to customers about what they wanted and it all came down to range and price and range. Everything else wasn’t even second on the list; it was like 9th.”
Although not necessarily intentional – but a wonderful byproduct of large battery paired to small car – the Bolt is pretty peppy (0 to 60 mph is reported as low as 6.5 seconds). Also an indirect product of the electric situation, the large battery distributes weight evenly, making for a firm, grounded ride quality, virtually free of vibrations. The regenerative brake paddles on the steering wheel are pretty cool as well.
The batteries cost GM about $9,000 a piece. Not so ironically, $9,000 is the number Bloomberg has floated in the past on much the company could be losing for each Bolt sold out of the gate, with that number coming down over time.
For us here at InsideEVs, we feel that GM may well indeed be dropping a few bucks per copy out of the gate, but not to that extreme extent…and truthfully, we don’t want to get bogged down in (or publicize) the “ifs and maybes” of the financials behind the EV, at least without any basis for the supposition. We’ll leave it at that anyway – moving on.
Past the matter of profitability, and as the review points out, the Bolt EV’s value is also in being part “marketing tool”, part “R&D exercise” – and it also means that GM can keep selling the more gas-thirsty models (at greater margins) in its lineup and still meet CARB requirements.
Bill Visnic, editorial director of the Society of Automobile Engineers reminds us:
“Tesla loses money on every car too.”
However, GM and Tesla’s situations, intentions, and – as a direct result of the latter – the products are very different in so many ways.