Chevy Bolt Sets EV Production Record At Refuel, Beats Every Tesla From 2016 Event



If the Chevrolet Bolt EV had put down this lap time last year, it would’ve beat every Tesla in the competition.

At the 9th annual REFUEL time trials at California’s Mazda Raceway, Billy Kwan drove a 2017 Bolt to first place in the category (HD version with lots of wind noice can be found below) in which the vehicle was placed:

The Bolt set a track record in the “production class.” There were some faster Teslas this year, but those cars compete in the higher spec “production GT” class (video of the Bolt EV run taken by chase Tesla Model S). As Hybrid Cars reports:

“Cameron Rogers took first place in the higher-powered “Production GT” car category this year with his 2016 Tesla Model S 85D which lapped at 1:52.425.”

That 1:52.425 time is a massive improvement over last year’s best posted time by a Tesla:

2016 Results

You’ll find all sorts of info on Refuel, as well as full race results from all of the years at this link.

Press blast below:


Speed Ventures presents the 9th Annual REFUEL Clean Power Motorsports Event at MAZDA Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California, on Sunday, June 25, 2017.

Now in its ninth year, REFUEL welcomes electric cars and motorcycles to MAZDA Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California, to showcase clean power transportation technology in a motorsports setting. Presented by Speed Ventures, California’s leading recreational motorsports sanctioning body, REFUEL is an opportunity to push the boundaries of EV performance.
Speed Ventures will provide track time and basic performance driving instruction for drivers of electric cars and riders of electric motorcycles. The event is open to production EVs as well as to conversions and purpose-built all-electric race cars.

We expect this year to be the most competitive yet in the all-electric REFUEL Time Trial competition which includes classes for production vehicles, conversions, and prototypes. Pro and amateur EV race teams are poised to set lap records at the world famous MAZDA Raceway Laguna Seca.

The REFUEL 2017 Clean Power Motorsports Event will offer the following:

Drive your EV or Electric Motorcycle on Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca at speed and receive basic performance driving instruction
Participate in the REFUEL Time Trial to see who is the fastest EV driver at MAZDA Raceway
A Parade Lap on The World Famous MAZDA Raceway Laguna Seca is open to all EVs in attendance (low speed, passengers are allowed, no helmets required)
Free charging stations for REFUEL track and Time Trial participants. (charging is available to participants only)

via Hybrid Cars

Categories: Chevrolet, Racing

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92 Comments on "Chevy Bolt Sets EV Production Record At Refuel, Beats Every Tesla From 2016 Event"

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A Fit EV was #1 last year?? That is shocking. I wonder what mods that Fit had.

Ok, it was a heavily modified Fit EV. Racing suspension, weight reduction to name a couple. And prepared by Team Honda Research.

Was there any mod to this Bolt? If not, what’s your excuse for coming in 4th from last? Well, at least you beat Focus ST.

For those of you not aware of bro1999 bringing shame to our house of Chevy, see this.

“Was there any mod to this Bolt?”

Everything was factory stock except for the tires. See the underlying HybridCars article for more details and interviews with the winning Bolt EV and Model S drivers this year.

Thanks for that link!

Until you get out on the autocross circuit and do better than me in your Spark EV, you have 0 room to talk.

It’s more to racing than just driving, eh?
Looks like you had some fun so good for you!
So what do you think a skilled driver would have accomplished?

I know where I could have gained another 2-3 seconds, so that would have brought my times down to the 48 second bracket. Put on racing slicks (like just about EVERY other car that was out there), and an experienced driver, and I bet the Bolt could have run sub 43 second times. For reference, the fastest time of the day was run by a Corvette in 39.1 seconds.
The Bolt will never be able to touch a ‘vette, even with Jimmie Johnson behind the wheel.

Wait a second, Bro. I thought you lived in Maryland? Did you roadtrip across country to do one lap? Or have you moved to the west coast? How were the chargers on your trip to California? Have you ever found a 75 kW charge rate charger and if so, what did the charge rate top out at? If memory serves, your Bolt topped out at just over 42 kW charging on a 50 kW charger in Maryland.
Sorry for all the questions, but I have never heard of anyone charging on one of the newer, higher power DCFC’ers.

Argh. I conflated Laguna Seca with your autocross story. Never mind. Still think Spark is being clueless but I didn’t know what the subject was, so I am out of the loop anyway.

I commend you for trying, but you need to do better. Clearly, it’s not the car since Bolt kicked butt in this race.

I wouldn’t race SparkEV due to 1) it’s a lease, 2) it could void the warranty. But someone has raced SparkEV in SCCA races. He went so far as to go to “driver clinic” to improve himself.

Autocross and hot lapping around Laguna Seca are COMPLETELY different beasts. Shows your lack of understanding of the events.

There’s a reason you never see a “Tesla Model S P100D smokes the competition at autocross event” articles….well, anywhere. It’s totally different from a drag race or hot lap on a race course.

Sounds like you’re using the excuse of your Spark being a lease to not get out in a PARKING lot for an autocross event. Come on, where’s the adventure?

If I win the lottery, one of the things I’ll do is to send you to driving school and get you better tires so you can redeem yourself.

Save it for yourself. As well as buying a set of cajones.

“Oh no, I’m driving a lease! I can’t do that!” *weak hand wave*

I don’t have a Bolt nor do I intend to get one (not this version anyway), and I did not broadcast to the world that I came in 4th from last, so there’s no redeeming from me. If I went out there and embarrassed myself, I’d keep quiet about it. “I didn’t finish first, but I did “ok” and not finish last” would’ve been sufficient.

But you need to get better, and update your blog when you do. Imagine 100 years from now people read your blog and wonder what the hell was wrong with Bolt (yeah yeah, eco tires, blah blah).

I really don’t give a F what people 100 years from now think.

Seriously, put up or shut up. You’re like the armchair quarterback that claims to know more about how to play QB than Tom Brady. Lol
Just shut up already.


Did you even read the article you linked to?

1. It was his first time autocrossing.
2. Running on stock LRR POS tires.
3. Zero experience.

Did you expect him to blow away the competition?

You should memorize this phrase “If it were that easy, everyone would be doing it”

Thank you for injecting a dose of reality.

Just ignore SparkEV on this one. He has shown his “hatred” of the Bolt EV since the day one because a “better” car replaced his beloved Spark EV as Chevy’s best EV on the market today.

He is going through the stages… He will come around eventually. =)

I dunno, he’s still in stage 1 (denial) about the SparkEV being a compliance car! 🙂

(A joke… and yet, not.)

As an owner of a Bolt, Volt and formerly Spark EV, I can say in my subjectively objective opinion:

Fun Driving Experience, and Practicality: Bolt
Charging speed, Efficiency and Parking in the City: Spark EV
Comfort, Looks, and long distance driving: Volt

😉 They all get a gold star!

We’re giving trophies just for showing up now? Go read his blog post. 4th from last place is shameful regardless what I think of Bolt. Fortunately, another Chevy (Vette) took the top.

Billy Kwan showed what Bolt can do, and damn proud of it.

Get your ass out on an autocross track in your stock Spark and then report back the results. Don’t be a little ***** and hide behind your lease/warranty excuse.
What’s shameful is your cowardice. Big man behind a small computer screen!

I have a huge computer, thank you very much. I have no intention of going out on autocross not ready and write how terrible I did. I’d rather save that money for even bigger computer.

Can’t afford $40 bucks? Explains why you are driving a cheopo leased Spark around and terrified of doing anything that may risk (not) your warranty.

Spark, criticizing someone for not being that fast on his first hot lap on a real track, and then coming out and admitting that you haven’t even Autocrossed your Spark? That is lame.
Trying to double down on your silly comment is worse.
Bro got out there and had a ton of fun. I will bet you dollars to doughnuts he will be a lot faster the second time he gets out there.
Trying to cast shade on someone when you are sitting in the bleachers? This isn’t funny, it is sad. For you. It makes you sound like some kid posting from his parents basement.

I’ve challenged him to put up or shut up and get his Spark on the track. He wussed out though, like the little boy he is.

Chevy really isnt doing a good job marketing the bolt as a hot hatch.

And yet GM calls it’s an Urban CUV!

I have been saying for over a year they need to do an autoX commerical to chip away at the cars geeky image…

Shhhh! I prefer the term “Sleeper”.

Because if you let that out, everybody’s going to think it’s a hot hatch well before you open a can of whoop-ass on them.


Agreed. There is a certain allure to practical but homely little cars that are incredibly FUN to drive. I have preferred to drive such cars for decades in ICE form, and
now look for the same in an EV.

I’m actually quite sad that Tesla has zero plans to build truly small vehicles. ?

The roadster is pretty tiny.

What are the rules for this – are they strictly stock, or can they change tires?

There are lots of details in the HybridCars article. The Bolt EV had racing tires but everything else was stock. The winning S 85D in the GT category this year was entirely stock, including the tires. I’m not sure if any mods other than tires are allowed in the regular “Production” category. Last year’s Fit EV was moved to the GT category due to the mods.

I find it hard to believe that this “Puddle Jumper” is even mentioned in the same breath as “Tesla”

This “Puddle Jumper” recorded quicker time than the quickest Tesla from last year.

YES, I read that.,It’s Comparing Oranges & bananas ..They’re Both Fruits wouldn’t you agree??

Banana is also considered as a berry.

I’ve smoked two different Model S in autocross events with my Leaf. It doesn’t prove that my Leaf is a faster car than any Tesla just that i was a better autocross driver that day. And you can’t compare lap times from one year to the next, track conditions change. Sounds like the Bolt driver really knows what he is doing, put him in a Tesla and i’m sure he would beat the time he posted in a Bolt.

I get the feeling that top speed isn’t as important as weight in autocross.

You are correct. Some of the fastest cars at an autocross event are Miatas and Mini Coopers and AWD WRX and Evos. Its a different story on a road course as they allow higher speeds and something like a Corvette would be ideal.

Was this event limited to a top speed, then? That would explain why the Model S couldn’t blow away the competition. I did watch the video to see if there were a lot of tight turns which would penalize the Model S for being a heavy car, but that didn’t seem to be the case from what I could see.

Not highest speed, but lap time. Its meant to take acceleration, deceleration and directional accuracy and stability into account.

It’s a relatively small track. The Tesla did seem to catch up in the few places where its ability to go faster than 93mph would come in handy.

Those would be the uphill straight (5-6), the Rahal Straight (6-7) and the front not-straight (11-1).

The rest of the track just wouldn’t provide opportunity for a heavier car on far less sticky tires to gain on a Bolt.

It looked like he got closest to passing between 10 and 11. It’s quite possible passing isn’t allowed at this even. Sometimes it is prohibited to prevent racing. Because racing always voids your auto insurance. Just putting your car on a track doesn’t always do so.

+1 ..How true.

Interesting that the Tesla driver chasing the Bolt said he couldn’t overtake the Bolt…because his Tesla got thermally limited halfway through his run.

So the Model S P85 can only turn a half lap at speed before getting performance cut. Wow.

Pretty cool, but of course the P85 is a 2013 model and not a 2017. P75 or P100 would be 2017.

The current Tesla models also thermally cut. As does the Bolt.

Both do it for the same reason basically. The drivetrains are undersized and only good for bursts of speed. The cooling system is overloaded quickly here in both cases. But if that were beefed up you’d probably start to run into problems with internal wear, because the drivetrains themselves also aren’t beefed up for continuous high power duty.

Yes. But the thermal cut in the Tesla is because the air cooled motor gets heat soaked. The Bolt EV has liquid cooled … everything. So it’s actually very difficult to push a Bolt EV to thermal limit.

Agree with both points here. The BOLT ev is conservatively designed, what with excellent cooling facilities and also a nice beefy conservatively rated gearbox that can easily handle the 200 hp motor.

Remember the cat calls? “AW , no way can the bolt be moderately priced for 200 miles of range. (It can go 300 in city driving).

Now we find the BOLT ev is also an excellent racer, when it claims to be neither a race car, nor a luxury vehicle. Well Done!!

Bro1999 showed Bolt can go 313 miles on highway with bit of hypermiling at average speed of 56 MPH. He went down 2000 ft, but that still result in over 300 miles of range at highway speed.

bro1999 said:

“Interesting that the Tesla driver chasing the Bolt said he couldn’t overtake the Bolt…because his Tesla got thermally limited halfway through his run.

“So the Model S P85 can only turn a half lap at speed before getting performance cut. Wow.”

I don’t understand. The Model S has been run on the Nürburgring “Green Hell” course, and made it to about the 3 minute mark before entering reduced power mode.

So how can the MS overheat in only a ~2 minute run on this track? Had the driver already been pushing the car on some warm-up laps, or some such?

Color me confused.

Typically in racing, you need to warm up before actually lap time is recorded. The car also doesn’t start with 0mph at the starting point which would be derated with 0 to whatever speed of the first corner needed. It is often already driven a lap or two and the lap time is recorded where the car is near its full speed at the starting point.

So, it takes more than 1 lap to get a best lap time. A 2 min lap often requires at least 1 lap before to get that 2 min lap time.

It depends on the track and how hard you push it. That Tesla on the Nordschleife was not being pushed particularly hard. Also, Europe is generally cooler than the US. 5C isn’t at all unusual.

My understanding is a Tesla cuts back its power (to the first notch, not super drastic) after barely over one lap on Laguna Seca if you drive it full out. If you drive it less aggressively it’ll go further.

Doing fast laps with the window down? Really?

Obviously you’ve never been on a track before. They require you to keep the window down.

Never raced a car, so I haven’t a clue as to why that would be. The first thing that came to mind is that if you roll the car and get banged up badly, the stewards wouldn’t have to punch through the drivers window to drag you out.
Is that close to the real reason?

That and it is one less solid object for your head to hit against.

Yeah, and it’s REALLY fun in a blinding sandstorm (ala Chuckwalla Raceway, look it up). One year I swear I vacuumed a gallon of sand out of the car at the end of the day.

“That 1:52.425 time is a massive improvement over last year’s best posted time by a Tesla”

So, according to the writer here, a 4.099% difference is “massive”??? Ummm…

Well, that bit of sensationalism aside, what’s the real reason that (according to comments above) a stock Bolt EV with racing tires was able to beat all the stock Model S entries? I wonder what the real reason is for such poor performance by the Model S’s. Perhaps that’s an indication those drivers simply aren’t very good at driving the course?

Yes. 4% is a massive year-over-year improvement in lap times in auto racing.

5 seconds on a track is an eternity. So yes it’s absolutely massive.

“Well, that bit of sensationalism aside,”

*sigh*… In racing, 4-5seconds are eternity. Even 1-2 seconds is often a big margin!

How many of you Tesla fanboys went absolutely ape crap when they knocked .1 second off Tesla’s 0-60 time? Ya know, also a 4% improvement…

Just want to make sure things are put in to perspective 😀

Okay, okay, no need to dogpile… Obviously this is a subject on which I’m woefully ignorant.

But I’m not one of the people doing handsprings every time the Model S shaves another 0.1 second off the 0-60 time. Yeah, I realize it’s good for Tesla’s advertising. But personally I think that once the 0-60 time gets down under, say, 6 seconds, then there are other things far more important that could stand improving. Like where the heck are the cup holders in a Model S? Hmmmm?

I have no idea how a bolt can be faster than 100D on this track, with comparable drivers.

The Bolt has a large disadvantage in acceleration or top speed. I’d be very very surprised if the bolt had a large advantage in cornering.

Another problem, the straight at Leguna Seca, I’m sure the Model S will hit ~120-140. The Bolt will max out at 92. That’s 2-3 seconds right there.

My only guess is the Bolt driver was a pro and the Model S drivers were amateurs. A pro driver can easily at 5-10 seconds at Leguna Seca.

Just watched the video (I guess I should have before commenting… oops). Yeah, the drivers race line was near perfect. He drives like a pro. Also, race tires on the Bolt would add 5-10 seconds on Leguna Seca. Easy.

Also, it seems that the Model S Took at the record at 1:52. Also, the video that says “HD Chevy Bolt EV sets Production Class EV record at Laguna Seca by Billy Kwan”, he’s driving a Tesla. WTF?

Eric, this is some bad journalism. Very very misleading title and very confusing story. I’ll take your articles down a notch from here on out, and will likely ignore them. It looks like the Tesla took the record and they mislabeled the video when uploading.

Try reading the article Mad.

He wasn’t driving a Tesla, the video was taken from a Tesla that was following the Bolt.

There are more than one class of vehicles, the Bolt wasn’t in the same class as the Tesla’s this year.

You didn’t even read the insidevs article to discover that it says Teslas race in another class (Production GT) and that’s bad journalism?

Read the original article for more details on this year’s race:

Billy Kwan, the Bolt EV driver, is a very skilled amateur.

Tesla uses an air cooled electric motor that on a track like Laguna Seca gets heat soaked and power limited in less than one lap.

GM liquid cools everything including the motor. So pushing the Bolt EV to thermal limit is no easy task. And will have maximum power available 99% of the time.

As far as I know the Tesla Model S motor is liquid cooled, just as the inverter right next to it is.

The person in this video said the Bolt reduces power output in about 3 minutes on Laguna Seca. A Tesla actually scales back quicker than that if driven full steam, but then again even a scaled back Tesla has more power than the Bolt. The Tesla scales back again more drastically after a few minutes. After 4-5 minutes both cars will be scaled back to under half of max power output.

In a Tesla the inverter is liquid cooled the motor is not.

Yes the Bolt EV driver does hit some power limit temporarily that the driver suspects is due to heat. But this is much different than what a Tesla experiences. On the track the Tesla will hit a power limit that will continue to fall during track duty as it cannot dissipate the heat fast enough.

As far as I know, the limiting factor in cooling Tesla’s motor is the rotor. Because they use induction motors to eliminate the use of magnets, they’re a few percent less efficient, and that’s almost all due to eddy currents in the rotor.

It wouldn’t surprise me if Tesla’s rotors generate over twice the heat of a Bolt’s under equal load.

Small point Mint but its not eddy currents – its DELIBERATE currents through the rotor bars which provide the torque necessary to turn the rotor, which then recirculate through the short-circuiting necklass on each side of the rotor as all induction motors have for the past 120 odd years.

But 0 to 60… 0 to 60… 0 to 60!!!
Are the heavens going to fall??
A heavly slander Chevy beat a Tesla??

There was a story about the Bolt beating hot hatches somewhere… Can’t find it though.

Electric drivetrains are really going to crush everything else as they mature.

If I were an exec at GM, I’d be getting this drive train (or the Volt’s for that matter) into an AWD CUV pronto.

I was there in 2015 and 2016. The Focus that won in 2015 had autocross tires, the Fit in 2016 came on a trailer and was stripped out. The Spark EV had two autocross tires. The Mercedes had stock tires, but the car lost 40% of its power before Rahal straight due to power cutoff by the ECU.

It’s interesting to hear that other Tesla owners have the same problem as the Mercedes drivetrain is the similar to the Tesla.

I can tell you the power cut is NOT DUE TO HEAT. The power cutout was triggered by time spent at full throttle, it happened at the same spot on both a hot and cold car. The Mercedes could do I think 100 something on the front straight, on the Rahal straight it could only do 70-80. The Mercedes has a power gauge that shows it lost 40% of its power.

Then part of learning the course should include knowing when and/or how much the driver should temporarily reduce speed avoid the Model S from triggering power reduction.

If a driver on the Nürburgring “Green Hell” course could make it ~3 minutes in a Model S before reduced power hit, then a driver on this course should certainly be able to make it to the ~2 minute mark before hitting that wall.

However, I know that Tesla has changed how its software limits power and under what circumstances, so it may be that the Nürburgring run in July 2014 was with a Model S using software which allowed more overheating.

Part of learning the course is not accelerate in a straight line so you can avoid limp mode? Are you serious?

It’s not temperature depended, the power reduction is software and time based. Someone with an override can easily fix it

Now imagine what it could have done if 2nd motor is added to the Bolt and make it into a Bolt SS…

That’s the Bolt I thought would be in the first place. They already did 50/50 weight distribution FWD traction limited car with SparkEV, and was disappointed Bolt was very similar. Bolt is slower to 30 MPH than Fiat 500e!

At $30K post subsidy, that’s squarely in range of WRX. At $37.5K is STi price range. They all have AWD and more power. If Bolt came with 140HP in front (eg. SparkEV motor), 200HP in rear, that’s very competitive to STi.

Bolt isn’t intended to be WRX. It wouldn’t otherwise comes with eco tires.

Granted, I do agree that GM could have offered a “hot hatch” version of the car and it would still get all the incentives. =)

This is GM’s first 200+ miles BEV though. I think the next rev might have something more exciting. Remember one of the Bolt engineer is a sports car guy which means that there are more room in there. But first we need to show GM that there is demand.

“But first we need to show GM that there is demand.”

That’s the problem. Imagine if Bolt is a gasser at $30K. Most would not buy it. Only thing saving is “EV” part of it.

But imagine if Bolt came as 340 HP AWD at $30K (or $32.5K since SparkEV motor costs about $2K). One would be crazy not to choose Bolt over gassers. Unfortunately, I doubt this could have happened (or will happen) since it’d out perform the Camaro.

Yeah, an AWD electric hot hatch would be pretty much my ideal vehicle. The Bolt could be it if Chevy built hot hatches. Maybe Renault’ll do it, but they don’t sell those here…

You truly don’t like the Bolt much do you? Even though the Bolt might be slower to 30 than the 500e. What about 0-60, 30-60, 40-70, etc.. The answer is the Bolt beats it in all other cases. The Bolt’s high end acceleration is very good.

SparkEV is also quicker in 0-60, 30-60, 40-70, etc. than 500e, so Bolt being quicker isn’t saying much. At 1.8X post subsidy price of SparkEV ($18K vs $30K), I expect Bolt to be better than 500e at any level (except for “cute”).

But SparkEV has less than HALF of the Bolt range. So, combined with all that, Bolt isn’t terribly priced.

In addition, today’s EV range still has a huge cost premium to it due to battery cost and battery weight.

Please stop criticizing the Bolt for all the good things that it is.

Spark EV isn’t that much cheaper since it has far less features and far less ranges. Many people couldn’t live with a Spark EV but could live with a Chevy Bolt. That difference is worthy the price premium.

As good as the Spark EV is, I don’t know a single person who bought the car. That speaks for itself.

Bolt EV? at least 1/3 of the persons I know bought the car rather than leasing it. So, it shows clearly the difference between the two.

Time to move to a better car, the Bolt EV!

M3 Reserved - Niro TBD

That’s not really fair comparison. They were literally giving away the Spark EVs. 3 yr/36month and TOTAL out of pocket lease – California rebate – $1200 + insurance.

No way Bolt leases could touch the rates we were getting on the Spark EV. Compliance car, yes. One small benefit of tax happy Cali

I know different people like different things in evs, but for me, 200 hp in the BOLT ev is more than enough.

I don’t think it would be out of place to have this powertrain in a large vehicle such as an Impala, as chevy in the 60’s had a wide range of engines and transmissions in (THEN) much larger cars from 155 hp gross (more like 110 NET) to a full 427 cu inch monster.

As a kid I was perfectly satisfied with the smallest engine available, as long as there was a certain amount of longevity to it.

The conservatively designed BOLT ev drivetrain should easily last 100,000 miles in the (by comparison) mid-sized Impala. While not BEEFY enough still for Police-Work, it is probably fine for everyone else.