Driving Chevrolet Bolt Makes TIME Writer An Electric Car Believer … Maybe


Chevrolet Bolt

Chevrolet Bolt (via George B)

The Chevrolet Bolt leads TIME’s Alex Fitzpatrick to believe that EV adoption will “explode” once people get a grasp of how fun they are to drive.

Fitzpatrick wrote:

“Unlike in a gas-powered car, an all-electric delivers power the instant you ask for it. The Bolt is like a zippy sports car in economical suiting. And, as with hybrids before it, you start to make a game out of recharging the battery via the Bolt’s regenerative braking feature that converts some energy into useable electricity.”

He points out that though environmentalists have been touting such vehicles for quite some time, the electric car just wasn’t practical. Short range vehicles that were way too expensive, just didn’t appeal to the masses. The Chevrolet Bolt is the first car to truly change this. So, it will be awhile before the general population starts to realize, but it’s imminent.

Inside the Chevrolet Bolt EV

We are finding more and more of these reviews, in which a general publication, or a non-automotive writer is pleasantly surprised by the Chevrolet Bolt. This is outstanding for the segment, because we all know that the average Joe or Jane is probably not reading about EVs on a regular basis.

Fitzpatrick says that once you get past all the futuristic visions, the Chevrolet Bolt feels just like you’re driving any other sporty crossover. However, there’s no “engine shudder” at high speeds, and it’s quiet, so you can drive too fast without immediately realizing it. All in all, it’s a smooth ride with lots of room, and has a great infotainment system.

Not unlike some other reviewers, he admits:

“The Bolt isn’t a head-turner from the outside. That’s not to say it’s ugly, but rather there’s nothing about it that screams ‘I’m from the future,’ a design pitfall that afflicts many electric and even hybrid vehicles. (It looks nothing like, say, GM’s vision for its ground-breaking Volt concept from a few years back.) That, says lead designer Stuart Norris, was an intentional choice: ‘We very conscious of not wanting to make the car look like a science fair project, which I think many other electrified entries have a tendency to do.'”

The review goes on to say that although the Bolt is the most affordable EV thus far, and would suffice for most everybody, there are exceptions. Those that live in apartments, condos, or other situations where home charging is an impossibility, may not fare well (especially if they don’t have a decent local charging network). Extreme temperatures affect batteries much like they do combustion engines. However, when you are talking about less than 200 miles of range in bitter cold, this may become a logistical issue. He says, if you can swing it, you should surely splurge for a 240-volt charging station.

Unfortunately, even though Fitzpatrick claims to be an electric car believer due to his time with the Chevrolet Bolt, he concludes:

“Some observers have called the “greenness” of EVs like the Bolt into question. They raise good points: If the source of your electricity is dirty (such as coal), then you’re just shifting the pollution point from your internal-combustion engine to some nearby power plant. The mineral mining required to make the batteries on which these cars rely have their own environmental consequences, too.”

So, while a widely-read gen-pop publication has good things to share about an EV, ending on that note could perhaps be a turn off, without the “proper” explanation.

Source: TIME

Categories: Chevrolet

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35 Comments on "Driving Chevrolet Bolt Makes TIME Writer An Electric Car Believer … Maybe"

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The thing is, with the Bolt EV, you CAN be an apartment dweller, if you have any reasonable charging infrastructure nearby. A simple DC fast charge for 20 minutes once a week or even less often could be enough for your commuting needs, not much different than a gas station.

It’s great to see yet another favorable review!

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

“you CAN be an apartment dweller”

But I’ve always wondered why anyone would buy a product without the means to fuel it when the best advantage of it being electric is the beauty of filling up at home.
If you have to go stop somewhere for 20-30mins to refuel, that’s no different (more inconvenient too) than having to stop at the gas station.

Some folks might have access to L1/L2 or even L3 chargers at work. In many cases these are free for staff to use. Pretty big incentive and indeed a possible fueling solution for apartment dwellers.

Unless those apartment dwellers live in a densely populated city and use public transport (ie subway, commuter rail, bus) to commute to work.

in which case they’re probably better off with Uber and no car

But, why buy a “normal” car without the ability to fuel with gasoline at home?

With increasing EV range, the car can become much like a “normal” gas car with weekly fuel ups of electricity. An EV still has a whole host of other benefits besides home-based refueling.

But I agree with you, for those that can fuel up at home, the prospect of an EV is all the more compelling.

The problem with that is: public charging tends to be more expensive than home charging, which eliminates the other big advantage of EVs, cheaper fuel.

It depends. If you’re parking on the street, that’s probably an issue, though there’s a few free public chargers in my area. However, I’ve found that garages that offer monthly parking and have EV chargers mostly make those free. So if one is planning to store their car in a garage, they might end up with ‘free fuel.’ The only hassle is moving the car to/from the charger since the charging areas are typically open to all garage users, rather than having the chargers at assigned spots. Just my experience in DC.

Because you can pay less to charge electric than fuel up with gas. And there is minimal to no servicing on electric cars. My Chevy Bolt’s first scheduled maintenance is 7,500 for tire rotation and every 7,500 after that. In a couple of years I should replace a cabin filter. After 5 years I need to have the brake fluid flushed. After 150,000 I need to have the battery fluid flushed. And in between I need to refill the wiper fluid lest I run dry and can’t clean my windows. NO oil changes, regular replacement of brake pads and rotors, fuel filter changes, air filter replacement, checking and refilling transmission, belt and hose changes, radiator flushing, tune-ups, spark plugs or glow plugs replacement, fuel injector servicing, mufflers, catalytic converters, timing belt replacement, etc.

It would definitely be a major consideration. It could work well in places like North Vancouver where there is a forest of condos and apartments. The DCFC is located where you can take a nice walk along the waterfront while getting charged.

Solar-panels and wind turbines will produce more and more of the electricity that cars use.
Lithium batteries will be recycled.

Problem solved into the near future.

Going back to giving money to OPEC has no future.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

So in 2012 the Tesla Model S wasn’t available for Fitzpatrick to drive an EV?

Hmm……sounds fishy with a dash of BS.

Don’t you know that GM pays for all of its awards and good reviews? Especially the praise for the Bolt. It’s all paid for

Why would they want to pay me when the car is already so inexpensive to operate? I rarely pay for a charge. My employer offers free charging stations as do several retailers. The days of going to a designated place just to refuel are going away. People will want to re-charge their vehicles where they normally visit (work, grocery store, movie theater, etc.).

Really? Wow, GM must be trying really hard at selling the Bolt then.

I guess all the morons and idiots out there claiming that GM isn’t trying to sell the Bolt must be just farting in the wind again…

You are one sick puppy!

All tired talking points or incorrect asessments with respect to EVs’ green credentials.

1) As is covered ad nauseum on this and other sites, even entirely “coal powered” EVs can best 90+% of gasoline vehicles for GHG emissions.
2) Keeping the pollution in one place simplifies emissions controls.
3) The grid is increasingly green in the US and is already so in many other countries. As the grid improves, so does an EV’s “greenness”.
4) Oil doesn’t have environmental consequences based on extraction, refinement, shipping and consumption? Lithium can be extracted from sea water and is currently collected in much less damaging ways than oil. Nickel and cobalt are already extracted for a wide array of usages and can be recycled. Why are EV batteries singled out as being especially bad? How much oil gets recycled?

Forgot to mention in my point #3 that in contrast oil extraction is increasingly dirty and risky. We are now extracting increasingly hard to attain locations – perhaps some of you recall what happened with the Deep Water Horizon outfit in the Gulf of Mexico? Look at the tar sands. Oil is increasingly damaging to the environment. The argument that EV batteries are “just as bad” is a false premise. Organizations like Tesla, Mercedes, Nissan and surely others are already recycling or will recycle packs with too low of an energy density for use in traction. Logic fail for Mr. Fitzpatrick.

You make all good and valid points. They just don’t sound great to those with political or financial biases that want to believe the contrary. 🙂

If those points are coming from politically left person to convince the politically right, it won’t work well. But if coming from politically neutral or right, they will be more likely to be convinced.

You have just described (perhaps unwittingly) exactly what’s wrong with so many people in this country: they have no desire to actually determine what is true; they just want to believe whatever someone in their own bubble says.

I’m fully aware of the problem, hence my comment. Those on the left and right are in their own talking point bubbles that do not intersect, kind of like coherent wave state of matter passing through each other. It seems only the people who have many in common can achieve decoherence to the real world.

Personally, I choose my opinions based on data and merit, values, and so on. I have opinions labeled left, as well as right. I’m also willing to listen and respect other opinions.

More people on both sides of the aisle could stand to do the same, in areas of politics, religion, and any other contentious topics.

I believe you are absolutely right, but I find the fact that facts aren’t shared amongst the two parties disturbing.

EVs are not “left” or “right” – they’re just “Right”, as-in the correct solution.

SO frustrating.

Joshua Burstyn makes all good points, but there’s one more point that has never been talked about. Coal fired power plants are the most difficult to turn bring online or ramp down. So the energy they produce at night (When most EV owners charge) will be produced regardless of whether the EV owner uses it or not. Coal plants are used as baseline energy production. During peak loads, Electric utilities bring on-line other energy producing resources that are easier to ramp up or down. But the coal plant (Baseline) runs day and night at roughly the same output. So in actuality, the charging of electric vehicles adds no “additional” emissions to the environment.

I think they’re the second most difficult to scale up or down – the most difficult is nuclear. Nuclear plants run at a higher capacity factor than any other form of power plant – typically in the low 90%s. Their lack of carbon emissions makes a huge difference in offsetting coal plants that may run at that time. Wind also tends to pick up at night in many regions. I ultimately don’t think its a huge worry. I just want the numbers for PEPCO (my utility in DC) and even with 35% coal and only 5% renewables, carbon emissions are 1/3 lower than driving gas without even accounting for any increased efficiency advantages. And the PEPCO standard offer mix has been consistently seeing the percentage of coal in the fuel mix drop by about 3% every six months – so its only going to get better. Of course, many also have the opportunity to purchase renewable power (which is really only relevant if it is renewables on the same grid, not RECs) – I buy off of two windfarms in PA through WGL for about .02 more per KwH.

Rick (no, not that Rick)

I don’t think you have to worry about non-greenies being turned off EVs because their electricity might come from coal. Coal will be dying an economic death over the next generation anyway. the average consumer will be more concerned about the price of batteries, i.e. “Why does that little economy car cost more than a BMW? Ohhhh, it’s electric.” Get the price down, and every other issue becomes a minor irritation.

I’m thinking more along the lines of “why does my Ryobi battery cost so much?” If Tesla are talking $190/kWh, then Ryobi 18v/4Ah battery for $110 is one hell of an expensive battery in comparison!

I also wonder. Is the pollution created at the power station equal to a SUV getting 25 mpg or one getting 100 or more. Whatever. EV’s are much cleaner I’m sure. I love mine.

I’ve been driving my Chevy Bolt since January and I don’t miss service stations at all. I charge my vehicle for free at my work or my spouse’s work. My commute is about 36 miles roundtrip so I only charge about once a week. We haven’t even installed a Level 2 charger in our home, because it seems like a waste of money given that our employers and places like Whole Foods let us charge our vehicle for free. Did I mention the extremely low maintenance?

Did the early Prius face equally criticism about its “economical interior” and “boring styling” when it came out?

For that matter, all of today’s most popular cars started out with an economy-grade interior.

I love the Chevy Bolt just as it is. Sure, I prefer the styling of the original Bolt Concept show car, but I think the production version looks jaunty and fun, especially in that ice blue metallic.

The Bolt is certainly not “the most affordable EV thus far”. But that peculiar statement isn’t in the Time article, either.

I too tire of the coal argument – its personally an issue to me since my property taxes are rising, due to my town’s #1 taxpayer is now gone.

I also don’t like Nuclear being deemed a CLEAN FUEL by my state, and giving $8 billion to Oswego to keep the set of 3 nukes there running, and also GINNA, whom Rochester area residents have said they don’t want, but would prefer lower rates with the thing gone.

I realize its a political situation since these are the only good jobs basically left in Oswego.

Now regarding the BOLT ev for apartment dwellers, I’d strongly recommend they have a SECURE supply of electricity (L1, L2, or L3) before purchasing the vehicle. Otherwise, the VOLT is a far more practical choice, as well as the more upscale vehicle.

But if you have your heart set on a BOLT, it would be a shame if you bought one, and then found your recharging facility was cancelled, either by your landlord or boss or others.

I’m still not sure why GM thought they couldn’t or shouldn’t go bold with the Bolt design. My God, have you seen the Honda Civics? They look like something out of a Buck Rogers movie and yet sell like hot cakes. Same for the new Prius. I think GM made the wrong design to make it a bland exterior.