Chevrolet Bolt EV Ride Along In Michigan, New Details – Video

AUG 18 2016 BY JAY COLE 77

Tuesday was the 2016 edition of the GM Woodward Ave Silent Cruise event, which happened near Detroit, Michigan.

Going for a spin in the Chevy Bolt EV (via YT/Erick Stephens)

Going for a spin in the Chevy Bolt EV (via YT/Erick Stephens)

And as part of the event, GM brought along a dozen or so of its upcoming Chevrolet Bolt EV – well, at least production-intent copies anyway (retail Bolt EVs start production in October, for end of year deliveries).

The 200+ mile EV was available for people to take short “ride along” test drives, and ask questions of GM staffers, including Josh Tavel, who is the Bolt EV’s Chief Engineer.

Thankfully, Erik Stephens (via YouTube) took some footage of the drive (and of him peppering the GM rep with questions).  Some of the things learned from the event by Erik:

  • The Bolt will produce higher power at higher RPMs over the Volt and LEAF
  • powerful heater, with faster warm up times
  • tires: Michelin Energy Saver A/S tire, identical in size to the Volt
  • the concept vehicle’s “orange” we have become accustomed to is not a production color (it was a custom 9 layer application), but another orange will be available
  • “L” setting will slow Bolt to a stop and has no creep function, while “D” does

You can also check out his blog post at on the experience here.

Hat tip to Seth M!

Categories: Chevrolet

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77 Comments on "Chevrolet Bolt EV Ride Along In Michigan, New Details – Video"

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Now we just need to know the official EPA range!

Though we probably already have a good idea. Bolt page says the Bolt can fully recharge in 9 hours via L2 charging. Chevy also says the Bolt can charge up to 25 miles per hour on L2.

25 x 9 = 225. So don’t be shocked when the Bolt’s combined EPA EV range is over 220, folks.

Allowing for charge rate taper off in the last 20% of the charge, at a total of 9 hours, about 1.8 to 2.0 hours would be in that reduced rate time.

That said, using your mentioned charge rate of 25 Mph charging, 7 X 25 still equals 175 miles; and averaging the last 2.0 hours at 15 Mph = +30 more miles, so my take would work out to about 205 miles range from a full charge, or about 170-175 Miles on 80% charge.

My 2016 Spark EV, which uses up to 95% of its battery capacity, has no taper at 80% SOC when charging L2. You are thinking of L3 fast charging. For 240V L2, there will be little, if any taper. There may be some cell rebalancing the last few minutes, but nothing like the L3 charge rate taper.
L2 charge rate for the Bolt EV should be fairly linear throughout the charge cycle.

Not all L2 vehicle chargers do the taper, but for a pack the size of the one on the Bolt, plus the availability of DC charging, I would assume that some taper will occur at the tail end of the charge.

The SparkEV’s charger is pretty basic, it gets the job done. I would expect more from the Bolt. (No disparaging the SparkEV here, it’s a great little car)

My Soul EV charges at the full 7.2 kW right up until it shuts off at 100% user SOC (95% actual BMS SOC)

Since 7.2 kw charging rate is a slow charging rate for a 60 kwh battery (much slower proportionally than the volts 3.3 or 3.6), they wouldn’t have to have much of a taper if they didn’t want to.

You are talking about DCFC tapering not 3kW/6kW AC charging where the tapering occurs more around a SoC of 95%

The charging speed is unlikely to be linear throughout the 9 hours so it would be more likely to have around 210 or less EPA rated miles.

Actually, if you look at a slew of the metrics, it points at 200. 16/20”s of the battery left, 160 miles of range. That’s 200.

Unfortunately, this vehicle has terrible aerodynamics. Which means when you actually want to use the range – highway cruising – you will have a lot less actual usable range. It has worse aerodynamics than a Leaf and it is heavier.

Remember, EPA combined metric which is used for range, which is weighted as 55% city, 45% highway. Similar to a Leaf and an i3, the city rating is likely much higher than the highway rating. And the EPA highway rating uses tests that average at best, 48 mph. Therefore, the EPA range estimate is going to be hard to achieve in vehicles with poor aerodynamics on the highway.

Good points. If 200 combined, what can we expect for EPA highway? And isn’t that at fairly moderate highway speeds? What is realistic in good conditions if you’re running at 70 mph?

I’m guessing it will be well below 200 at least. And the 2017 LEAF and ZOE then won’t actually be very far behind, likely going at least 80% (and maybe closer to 90%?) of the distance with a pack of 46 kWh or so; 40 kWh of useable capacity. (Nissan will switch to marketing only useable range as Renault already does.)

Since the Bolt’s aerodynamics are terrible, worse than a Leaf, and it is heavier than a Leaf, and the Leaf gets 359 Wh/mi at 70 mph (tested by Idaho National Labs), I’m guessing a range of about 155 miles for the Bolt at 70 mph.

Likely, on a highway with a 70 mph speed limit, you wouldn’t want to plan on going much further than about 140 miles in ideal conditions with a 100% charge. After all, no one actually plans to use every mile of range, it would be way too scary.

Obviously, at lower speeds, it will have great range. And with 140 miles of comfortable highway range in ideal conditions, you would plan on making charging stops around 90-100 miles (140 miles, 80% SoC, another 20% drop for rain/cold/wind/elevation).

What you’re missing is that range is always a function of the drive cycle, and doing demo drives and sitting around with the AC running while you talk is a good recipe for less range. LOL GM does a great job with its drive trains so for the same kWh the Bolt EV will likely go further. Here is different guess at the range done by a very good engineer: “The center screen indicates 47.1 miles driven on 14.3 kWh used. It also indicates 157 miles of range remaining. On the left side of the driver’s screen, we can see the number 157 in the center of the green area (likely an indication of battery charge remaining). Above this we see a number of 185 max and below we see a number of 128 min. So it seems that the estimated range remaining is 157 miles, while the estimated minimum and maximum range are also displayed. If the Bolt has traveled 47.1 miles on 14.3 kWh used, and can go another 157 miles on the same electrical MPG, then the remaining kWh in the battery is (157/47.1)*14.3 or 47.7 kWh. This would put the Bolt’s total usable battery capacity at… Read more »

The battery gauge says 16/20. They start at 158 miles of range. That’s 200 miles.

AC is a very low draw compared to aerodynamics. Given the circuit they were running, the average speed was very slow. They certainly weren’t cruising at 75 mph.

Obviously, it is possible to drive 250 miles in the Bolt… you would have to be going pretty slow though.

Thank you for your contribution, arm chair engineer. GM appreciates your expertise. They can cancel all their EPA testing now. LOL

I will always believe GM for underpromising and over delivering. Many Volt owner get about 30% more range than the EPA rating, so I will predict that the Bolt EV will give some owners up to 260 miles of range. BTW, we EEs give excellent guesses! The expected EPA rating will be over 200 miles of range.

I read your post to say “it has worse aerodynamics than a leaf blower” and I thought to myself, “yeah, probably true.”

Gotta get my old-people glasses.

A leaf blower would have lower wind resistance, because, like the Spark, it has less frontal area than a Model S.

This is supported by tweet from a few weeks ago that shows the Bolt’s dash. Check out @ChevyVolt’s Tweet:

If you go by the screen, it looks like 230+ miles range

That end of charge taper is a function charge current vs. pack size. Larger packs will taper less for a given charge current. Given that, on a level 2 this pack will have virtually little to no taper. On an level 3 it might have some but a 60kWh pack charging at 50kWh is less than 1C so still likely little tapering unless the pack is very out of balance.

I like what GM is doing. Congrats!

The key words there are “is doing”. Is it?

“powerful heater, with faster warm up times”

Resistive or heat pump?

Good question. Correct if wrong, pretty sure its resistance heat. Remember Volt 2 was also promoted for “more powerful heat”. Volt 1 took 5,000-7,000 watts at times, which makes you wonder the dent Bolt range might take. Still, would much rather resistance Bolt w/205 range, than heat pump Leaf/i3 with ~130.

Lots of hand-wavy math here.

Keep in mind max power is not constant power. Yes, a Volt will use 6000W for the heater when it’s warming up, but once warmed, that will decrease to something like 3000W.

In a long trip in the Bolt, the same thing will happen, lest the occupants wish to drive in a 100 degree sauna.

Long story short, the maximum power draw of the heater does not translate to a significant reduction in long range trips. It does hurt you when running errands though (heat up, cool off, repeat).

Wow that is a lot! My 2014 heat-pump Leaf rarely uses more than 1.5 kWh (down to -20C) to heat the cabin. Typical around freezing to -5C is 750W.

The “higher power at higher revs than the LEAF” isn’t something new we learned from this video. It’s been known since the power rating became known – since there isn’t a motor in the universe that doesn’t produce maximum power at “higher revs”. Electric motors produce max torque at zero revs, but torque is essentially a measure of the work a motor can do during a partial turn (through a given angle). Even though electric motor torque falls off as revs climb, power increases a lot as revs climb before ultimately falling off as you approach maximum revs.

What he is talking about here is the optimization of the power curve. They aimed for more power at higher revs than most non-Tesla EVs, giving it a more linear acceleration. Many EVs on the market have great 0-30 times, but poor 30-60 times. It gets worse for 50-70 mph passing, and the Bolt is more optimized for that.

Obviously, the shape of the curve is similar overall, but Bolt’s will be flatter through its usable rpm range.

He wrote in his bullet point list that one of the things we learned was higher power at higher revs than the LEAF. There was nothing about power curve optimization.

The reason for the good 0-30 times is that we tend to compare with ICE. They don’t get to maximum torque until they get to maximum revs, which is near the end of the interval 0-30 even in first gear.

Some of us may remember the multi-humped curves, representing each gear’s realization of maximum torque/hp in car mags. “Optimized” was just a way of referring to making the Bolt feel like a regular, somewhat powerful, car. Also, like Volt 1, which was restricted off the line, GM is “Optimizing” down what the ~60kwh battery is capable of 0-30. I doubt the motors are near their limits, and believe Bolt could be a tweakers dream.

Sales people for Tesla used to critique the “give-up” of going with 60kwh, instead of 85kwh, as losing top end. There was no “Optimization” there. It was the inherrent loss of power, from stepping down 25 kwh of battery storage, to 60. Today’s Tesla “60” acceleration is actually using (not “Optimizing”) the full 75kwh they put inside. You’ll get a lot extra in that “60kwh”, than you will a Bolt whose power has been cut from 0-30. One gives, where the other “Optimized”, or more specifically de-tuned away.

I hope, that 3-phases AC will be included for outside markets of US for example in Europe. Most new public chargers offer 11/22 KW. Due to the fact, that other manufacturers e.g. BMW with i3, Tesla, Renault offer that.

What’s about the cargo space (trunk) in length, width and depth? in cm?

Except that it’s only Tesla and Remaukt that currently provide decent onboard chargers – and with Renault the leader! Zoe has a 22 kW onboard charger and can make good use of the dirt-cheap flexi chargers that basically just feed 400V AC straight off the grid. Tesla only has 11 kW, but you can opt to pay extra for double chargers and then match the ZOE.

Nobody else however offers decent onboard chargers. It is to hope that this will begin to change, but today a new LEAF and most others get a meager 3.6 kW charger by default and 7.2 if you fork out extra for it. This is really a lost opportunity as it can’t be very expensive (being standard in the cheap Zoe) and it makes charging at shopping malls and restaurants and the like – wherever one might spend one to a few hours – a lot more interesting.

Obviously, due to Germany’s 20 ampere single phase limitation (some european countries are as low as 16) – the Ampera – E, will no doubt get a Mennekes 3 phase 400 volt 10 amp connector, probably similar to the I3.

This will give a 7 kw charge rate at 10 amps – I’m gathering that since most larger homes in Germany and France have 230Y/400 50 hz, they’ll be able to take this rather decent charge rate with essentially no work to the electrical service.

Unless their are ‘demand Contracted for’ arrangements which I was trying to get SETH to elaborate upon.

I’m not sure what the weighting is between city and highway in the EPA “combined” figure, which is the widely quoted one. But I reckon for most people it is the highway range that is most important when we’re in this ballpark (city range being essentially much more than anyone needs, perhaps barring taxis). And the Bolt has unimpressive aero performance. I expect highway range to be a bit below 200 miles. The upcoming facelifted LEAF with 40 kWh useable capacity and improved aero may actually be able to compete with this. Not directly on range, but on a combination of being cheaper and not as far behind on range as the capacities would suggest. With a gross capacity of about 46 kWh it will likely go 80% of the distance the Bolt does on highways. The 2017 Zoe should be comparable and looks better, and is expected to retain the 22 kW onboard charger – making it too a pretty decent contender provided it will be a bit cheaper than the Bolt. Those who don’t go long-distance often may find the extra charging hour or so per year is pretty handsomely paid. I am no longer as sure as… Read more »

The weighting is 55/45. Not sure why you think the Bolt EV’s aero is so bad. It’s a CUV not a sports car. In any event, note that aero is not the sole or even the largest factor in range on the highway cycle. For example, the Model S supposedly has fantastic aero, but the lowly Spark EV, which most definitely does not, is 21% MORE efficient on the highway cycle. The Model S gets more efficient when it adds a second motor, which is further evidence that aero is not the be all and end all.

In fact, the Bolt aero is no worse than the Leaf, and nobody wrings their hands about that.

Well, simply, the Bolt’s CdA is terrible for a BEV at 8.05 sq ft. The Leaf’s is 7.8 sq ft. The Model S is 6.2 sq ft.

The Leaf gets 359 Wh/mile at 70 mph.
The Model S 85 gets 301 Wh/mile at 70 mph.
The Spark EV gets 280 Wh/mile at 70 mph.

The difference is less than 10% between the least efficient Model S versus the Spark EV. The dual drive Model S variants are more efficient, so a Spark EV and a dual drive Model S are likely a wash at 70 mph. The aerodynamics on a Spark are pretty terrible too, but it’s a much smaller car with less frontal area.

The Leaf’s range is so short, people don’t sweat the 70-80 mph range.

One commenter a year ago stated in Germany a typical household has 40 amps capacity. The 7 kw, 10 amp Mennekes charge rate (essentially analogous to the North American version) is probably the fastest one would want to charge at anyway, since it uses up 1/4 th of the capacity of the existing facilities, and most Germans probably would like to utilize their existing facilities with out spending plenty of extra Euros.

Households have a 40kW connection minimum, but a lot have 100kW and some even 200kW. Installing a 22 kW charger costs 600 – 1000 €. So the money is not that much, but your BEV (today battery sizes) is full in another hour.

Tesla used to have a range estimator for the Model S on their website, where you could select 5 or 6 different temperatures (90F, 70F, 50F, 20F, I think), whether AC or heat is turned on, wheel/tire combination and constant speed selection (by 5mph intervals, highest was 70 or 75mph).

Cold temperatures, even without the cabin heater, crushed range. High speeds made a dent, but not by an alarming amount (probably due to the excellent Cd). Cabin AC and heat took chunks out of the range, as well, but cold weather was by far the worst.

charge rate is too slow for long distance travel. one compelling reason to wait for model 3. better than my nissan leaf but it will only remain a city car.

That charge rate is for L2, right? I believe it was said the Bolt would have L3 charging available, which makes longer trips more endurable.

I can’t fathom not having L3 charging on the Bolt, given what it is trying to be.

The one question I would have liked the Canadian to ask, since its getting rather close to the Bolt’s release date, is:

1). IS CCS to be optional, or standard equipment?

2). If optional, what is the price for 50 kw ccs?

3). Is the 7.2 kw level 2 basic charger like every other GM product in that you can also use 110 volts at 8 or 12 amps?

4). Is the 7.2 kw charger standard equipment?

5). If standard, does GM plan to immediately come out with a ‘cost reduced Bolt’ similar to the way the VW Egolf has a more inexpensive sibling with incandescent headlights and 3.3 kw charger?

Looking at the C&D photo of the charging screen with an 8A limit selector sounds like the answer to question 3 is yes.

I asked questions that I knew that could at least get some answer or clarification. I was talking to a development engineer and not someone in marketing. All I can say is the pre-production cars all had the same L1 EVSE as the Gen II Volt inside. And that EVSE would come with the car. What they are going to do with regards to a L2 EVSE or DC fast charging optional/standard is still not known to us and won’t be till the order guide is published.

The Volt can charge at least at 90 miles in 30 minutes, as stated by GM engineers. It may have more than 200 miles of hwy AER but lets say it has 200.
So you can drive 2.5 hours, go 175 miles, hit a charger for 45 minutes and drive another 2 hours/135 miles. Repeat if necessary. This will work best after the CCS chargers become more common.
The Bolt isn’t going to be a great roadtrip car, but it will be a decent one.

Well I am glad for both cars – they are quite different but neither seems useless.


I want to see how i3 sales will perform by the end of the year. I think BMW is worried about the Bolt

… like the BMW M3 is worried about the camaro?

was this guy only allowed to film the dash or something? What about the rest of the car?

Buy a SMART car and get it over with.

“DC is 50… will it do more than that?”

“We are saying 50 right now”

Yeah, 50 was all there was when they started designing this thing so obviously that was the original target but I’m sure they will crank it up when the 150 kW chargers gets more common.

Sure, but why not say that. If it takes a forklift upgrade, then anyone could say that [1]

[1] Forklift upgrade: computer lingo for haul the old one out, and get a new one.

Because these big corporations coordinate what they tell the public. If they haven’t agreed to spill the beans on some detail these PR people will all keep quiet until they get an OK from the bosses.

They may very well have discussed 150 kW in their internal meetings but until they get the go-ahead 50 kW is all they are going to say for now.

Looks really nice, I’m sure it will sell very well.

Wonder if Chevy has hidden a two-speed transmission in the drivetrain. That would compensate for the higher drag and power drop-off at higher motor RPM.

I believe the first version of the BOlt will be single speed, to minimize cost.

Jackrabbit starts may be therefore somewhat inefficient as they are in the Gen 1 Volt.

Its ultimate top speed also suffers – but look at the great car you get even with these minor deficiencies.

I worry that the Bolt is going to turn out to be very expensive. It is sounding like L3 charging with be an option as will connectivity. The price they keep quoting is before taxes and after rebate. So outside of the US it is likely to be mostly unaffordable.

It never occurred to me that L3 might be an optional feature. At the same time, it will be less needed for a city car that charges at home every day due to the 200 mile range. But at the same time, with 200 mile range, longer trips might start to see feasible, as long as you have the fast charge option.

“Bolt will be expensive”

Only if you load it up with options. That’s why I’m buying mine with zero options, and hopefully they’ll release a ‘cost-reduced’ version (incandescent headlights and smallish charger similar to the EGOLF’s cost reduced sibling).

The best features to me is the huge space (it was initially declared a ‘midsized wagon’, and the HUGE (for the price) 60 kwh battery.

Why do you want the power drain of incandescent headlights?

Honesty looks great. This looks like a perfect second car or a perfect city only car. But looks and feels like a $20k car. For the price of a model 3 I would rather wait a year.

The $7500 tax credit won’t last forever. Tesla will be running out before all the model 3s are delivered

I can buy a Cadillac for $20K. Is that your example?

looks good. I like it. We just got a 2016 Volt. if GM is reading this…A big thank you for moving the A/C vents. Much better placement than the Volt.

Do you have vents for the back seat passengers? I heard they were going to be under the front seats, pointed aft right at the passengers feet which sounded odd.

SparkEV-Fiat500-Leased - M3 Reserved - Bolt- TBD

On demo day with full blast AC and demo on hard accelerations, still 200+ mile range down woodward ave (50+ road).

This will very nicely for us in San Diego. Right now Spark EV gets between 4.5-6.0 mi/kwh depending on AC usage and about 50/50 time freeway/city driving (and we’re not hypermiling types either).

Confirmed again in the video that there will not be Adaptive Cruise Control in this release. Love the car and will be getting one for sure, but this missing feature is a BIG disappointment.

Remember folks, the bolt has a more efficient PM motor.

Will the Bolt have a heated steering wheel?

Yes it does just like the Volt.

Nice preview. Looks like a fun car similar to the BMW i3. But my preference would be for an EV with a more luxurious aerodynamic style. Especially considering the > $37k cost. Therefore, I am going to hold onto my Model 3 reservation. But it will be interesting to watch now the Bolt rolls out over the next 6 months.

SparkEV-Fiat500-Leased - M3 Reserved - Bolt- TBD

Would love to see some nice safety/convenience perks if not adaptive cruise:

-Park assist
-Emergency Braking both while backing up and while driving

They are very mum about this. With all the nice cameras, it’s setup for these a la Tesla and doesn’t looking like LIDAR involved

This all sounds very promising and it also sounds like a car I wouldn’t mind owning. But I’m afraid it will be way to expensive in Europe 🙁
Also, I don’t like the fact that it will cary an Opel badge in Europe. I don’t want to drive an Opel.