Digital Trends Declares The Chevy Bolt EV Its Alt-Energy Car Of The Year


JUL 20 2017 BY MARK KANE 30

Digital Trends picked two contenders for its Alt-Energy Car of the Year 2017 contest: the Honda Clarity Fuel Cell and Chevrolet Bolt EV … and the Chevy Bolt won.


Chevrolet Bolt EV

According to the review, both were good all-around cars, but the all-electric powertrain is a more practical option for more people, and in case of Chevrolet Bolt EV, it also offers more range than any other car at its price point.

The Honda Clarity Fuel Cell’s main drawback is a common one for the technology – the lack of a deep re-fueling infrastructure, which crushes all the advantages have a quick refueling solution over the more time-consuming requirements of the 60 kWh Chevy.

“Both the Chevrolet Bolt EV and Honda Clarity Fuel Cell are electrified vehicles that present different alternative fuel sources: electric batteries and hydrogen fuel cells. In the end, Chevrolet’s Bolt EV won Alt-Energy Car of the Year, largely due to the larger network of electric charging stations across the US. The Bolt EV presented an impressive 238 miles range per charge and expands electric vehicles to a broader audience.

It proved too difficult for the Honda Clarity to beat out the Bolt EV due to the lack of hydrogen stations that are only found in California–the only place where the Clarity is currently being sold. We still have to hand it to Honda for bringing another alternative energy sourced car to the mass market.

The 2017 Digital Trends Car Awards is the culmination of a full year of testing. We’ve driven hundreds of cars over the year and brought together the best of the best for side-by-side comparison. In the end the overall winner will take home the Digital Trends Car of the Year award.”

We do note that the Clarity Fuel Cell won in the “Best Drivetrain” category – a  consolation prize if you will for Honda.

Honda Clarity Fuel Cell

“Out a field that included everything from a classic American V8 to a tiny four-cylinder engine with both turbocharging and supercharging, we picked the fuel-cell system in the Honda Clarity as our top powertrain.

Fuel-cell vehicles aren’t new, but with the Clarity, Honda went a long way toward making them practical. The entire powertrain fits under the car’s hood, freeing up interior space. It’s also one of the first fuel-cell powertrains engineered with relatively large-scale production in mind, making it an important step in the development of hydrogen cars.”

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30 Comments on "Digital Trends Declares The Chevy Bolt EV Its Alt-Energy Car Of The Year"

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Well deserved. I am very saddened that it is not selling better but I think many people are waiting for the Model 3 that has Supercharger ability.

But if you need a hatchback, the Bolt is the way to go.

It needs to continue to sell poorly until I get a chance to lease one while they are almost giving them away.

I would have gotten one if it had dynamic cruise. An odd omission in a tech car and one that has all the auto braking etc. tech that make dynamic cruise a minor software add.

The FWD and useful hatchback make it better choice than Model 3. Wouldn’t get a RWD Model 3 so its a race between Bolt adding dynamic cruise and Model 3 AWD version.

The new Nissan Leaf-II sounds to be the car for you. A hatchback with ProPilot and DCFC.

Sadly, it is the most fantastic car that nobody is buying. Well, not nobody because I bought one, but people have no idea how good it is.

There are four of them at my work parking lot, including mine, so its certainly not nobody (double negative!).

Maybe if they lower the Price to about $25,000.00 for starters .It’s Not Enough Car for the Money..

So it has to be one of the cheapest EVs to sell well? It has to be cheaper than all 30kW EVs? Come on now, be realistic.

You’re a snob, admit it. It say’s Chevy on the front, so that’s $5000 down the toilet right there, right? I know, I know, you’re probably waiting for your pint sized Model S at half price. It will be interesting once the real world gets ahold of the Model 3.

There’s always people on the internet saying they’d buy something if only it also did . I’m sure the car companies know better than to believe the braggarts by now.

Some people just want to claim they can or will do something they simply never will do.

You’re not a Bolt customer. It’s okay. They’ll have to find other fish in the sea.

The Clarity Fuel Cell is more like a concept car than a real commercial product. Lease-only, and then only in the one state with a smattering of H2 stations, and then with the fuel given away for free.

Its supposed strength is that its alleged rapid refueling should enable long-distance travel. However, since the vast majority of the U.S. has no H2 stations, you can’t drive a FC Clarity very far outside of California.

And if you ever do run out of fuel, you’ll have to tow it to a fueling station; no simple top-up from a cheap container (like a gasmobile) or plugging into any outlet (like an EV).

BTW, Green Car Reports had an overview of the extra safety precautions necessary necessary doing any service on the H2 tank or the fuel cell stack. Frankly pretty scary.

Seems like a no brainer to choose the Bolt over the Clarity in this two-way race.

Side note: Before anybody else brings it up, Tesla doesn’t officially reveal the Model 3 for another week, so they are too late for consideration for the 2017 award. Better luck next year.

This to me is just BS. The date the award is released frankly really needs to be pushed out a bit.

It’d be one thing if they didn’t want to include a model year 2018 car that was released in 2017 but push the award out enough so that all MY 2017 cars can be considered. Seems like the right thing to do.

You sound like you’re referencing the Model 3. Don’t worry. If it’s not eligible for this year it’s eligible for next year.

Model years are unfortunately a mess. The best any award can do is just select a cutoff date and then advance it one year per year. It’s what the Oscars do. too. No one misses out, they just might end up in slightly different company than they expected to compete against.

Yup. They can’t keep the door open for latecomers the way car makers have been twisting the model year designations. The model year system is messed up. For example, the first 2017 Volts actually started showing up in lots in Feb 2016:

In fact, most car makers selling their first of a new model line of cars in late July would call them a 2018. There is no reason for anybody to wait around to see if Tesla releases it as a 2017 (most likely) or a 2018 (could happen, but not what we’ve been told to expect).

Does Tesla even recognize model year apart from VIN?

Thought they do pint releases even multiple times a year, when tech is ready.

That may change with Model 3, ofc. But do we have anything solid on that topic?

There are still next to no hard facts on the Model 3, despite being a week away from the latest “reveal”. Still no info on pricing and options, still no official EPA rating or even an updated claim by Tesla, no performance details, and no cars in the hands of auto magazines for independent testing. It’s NOT ready for consideration. It’s not even close.

LOL, in the same category as the Clarion Fuel Cell vehicle… thats not good.

So the Honda has a very suspect refueling infrastructure and the BOLT ev requires no refueling infrastructure at all.

Not a difficult choice.

If anyone’s going to keep pushing the hydrogen front, it’s going to be the Asian manufacturers. There are large piles of cash available to them from the various governments to do so.

I personally will never understand the need to create a ‘clean’ fuel that’s demonstrably more complex to handle, inefficient and expensive than the fuel(electricity) you have readily at hand.

It makes sense for the fossil fuel industry to want to keep customers dependent on them providing and distributing the fuel. Plug in at home and full in the morning is a horror to them, they would be completely cut out of the loop. hence no plugin hybrid but free fuel for 2 years.

Toyota has sold more than 170 K hybrids in Europe in 2017-H1 and its all advertised/sold in the place of electric and plugin vehicles. While Hybrids are much cleaner than Diesels which are sinking there, at least Toyota should not pitch a hybrid against plugins.

But the large company do acknowledge the fast growing plugin segment and since they have only 1 plugin, at least they are pushing the hybrids in which they have mastery.

I guess I have little respect for Digital Trends. They have swallowed whole the myth spread by the oil industry that fuel cell cars are a viable option. FCVs require fuel that the oil industry intends to provide and thus keep you as customers. BEVs on the other hand can get their power by many means and thus are not hostage to any one organization.


Congratulations to GM and Chevrolet for the Bolt EV’s award.

However, I think it’s a real slap in the face for the Bolt EV to be compared to something as wildly impractical as a “fool cell” car. No FCEV should have been in the running for this award.

I like how all these descriptions of hydrogen cars (Clarity, Murai, etc) seem to leave out the fact that the hydrogen tank has a somewhat short expiration date and must be replaced to continue using the vehicle safely. These replacement hydrogen tanks are not cheap.

Normal wear on EV batteries however, may lose some range but at least they don’t outright expire.

They also ignore that people are leasing the car and getting free hydrogen for 3 years. No one is quite sure what the price of hydrogen will be once they start paying for it.

It could be affordable, but with the relatively few customers for hydrogen right now it seems like it’s also possible it’ll be expensive. We see people complain about the price of DC fast charging compared to home AC charging. What’s the chances hydrogen will be even as cheap as DCFC?

Ah. A vehicle that is not being manufactured due to excess on dealer lots. Nice.

That’s not why it’s not being manufactured. You should have read the article better. Electrek should have too.

GM says the shutdown is solely due to having too many Sonics (which are also built at the plant).

Honda has been trying to sell a Clarity fuel cell vehicles since 2008. They still haven’t sold even 2000 cumulatively. Car of the year?