Exclusive: Inside The Chevrolet Bolt With Its Chief Engineer – New Details

2 years ago by Tom Moloughney 297

2017 Chevrolet Bolt At NAIAS: Image Credit - InsideEVs / Tom Moloughney

2017 Chevrolet Bolt At NAIAS: Image Credit – InsideEVs / Tom Moloughney

One on One NAIAS Interview with Chevrolet Bolt Chief Engineer Josh Tavel

Chevy Bolt's Chief Engineer Josh Tavel

Chevy Bolt’s Chief Engineer Josh Tavel

This week at the North American International Auto Show I had the opportunity to sit down with Chevrolet Bolt EV Chief Engineer Josh Tavel. We covered a variety of topics related to the Bolt EV, which was the cornerstone of the Chevrolet press conference at NAIAS this year.

I started out asking Tavel what he felt were some of the biggest challenges his team faced with the Bolt.

Here’s Tavel’s response:

“This is a very different car.”

“You might expect me to answer this by saying one of the major components like the battery or electric motor, but that really wasn’t the case. We’ve been doing batteries and electric motors for a long time at Chevrolet so they’re known entity for us.”

“The biggest challenges were really because the vehicle architecture of the Bolt is different. It’s the unique packaging of the Bolt which was probably the biggest challenge. It affects everything. Some of the predictive models, the CAE (computer aided engineering) work really well with conventionally powered vehicles, but when you take yourself out of that architecture and apply it to this new type of vehicle, they don’t work that well, so we really had think differently. There were a couple of areas where we had to take a different approach, because this architecture is so different than anything we’ve ever done.”

2017 Chevrolet Bolt At NAIAS: Image Credit - InsideEVs / Tom Moloughney

2017 Chevrolet Bolt At NAIAS: Image Credit – InsideEVs / Tom Moloughney

2017 Chevrolet Bolt At NAIAS: Image Credit - InsideEVs / PaulRaszewski

2017 Chevrolet Bolt At NAIAS: Image Credit – InsideEVs / Paul Raszewski

Talking about crash testing, Tavel stated:

“In crash testing, cars have unique crash test signatures, but the results of the Bolt are unlike any other car. That said we’re feeling really good about us being at the top of the segment from a safety perspective.”

He went on to talk about how they spent time slimming down the front seats in order to give the rear passengers more leg room and save weight, but how that then affects crash testing, and how the battery tray is incorporated into the main structure to increase the stiffness of the chassis.

Regenerative Braking

The Bolt has two driving modes, Drive and Low. The regen level in normal mode is minimal, and basically simulates how a conventional car without regenerative braking feels. I specifically asked him to describe how “Drive” mode feels. Tavel explained:

“It’s still in the same field as a normal car. There are normal cars that have as much natural decel as the Bolt in Drive; it’s not out of the norm. Originally it was tuned such that if you were to take 100 people and monitor them coming to a stop light, and monitor that decel, and let’s say it would be about .2g’s. The Bolt was designed for .2g’s – to basically act like a conventional car. But the problem was, sometimes you need a little bit more, and it didn’t give it.”

“So actually just this past December we were all out in LA and I said ‘You know guys, this is stupid. It feels like were making the one pedal driving be kinda acceptable for the people that don’t like it, and kinda acceptable for the people that do. Why are we doing this halfway? If they don’t like it, they have drive (mode), the i3 for instance, doesn’t have a drive mode with light decel. So if they don’t like regen, go to drive. If they want it, give it to them (low mode with heavy regen).’ So now we’re at a spot where I can drive home and never touch the brake pedal.”

2017 Chevrolet Bolt At NAIAS: Image Credit - InsideEVs / PaulRaszewski

Inside The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt At NAIAS: (InsideEVs / Paul Raszewski – TEVA)

In addition to the Low drive setting, the Bolt has a Regen on Demand paddle on the steering wheel. So there are actually four different levels of regen with the level of deceleration getting stronger at each level below:

  • Drive mode (mildest regen <.2g’s)
  • Drive mode using Regen on Demand paddle
  • Low mode
  • Low mode plus using Regen on Demand paddle (strongest regen ~.3g’s)

Artificial Creep

In order to come to a complete stop while in Drive mode, the driver will need to use the friction brakes. In these conditions, when they release the friction brakes, the car will creep forward. Artificial creep and whether or not it belongs on an EV has been a highly controversial topic and one debated amongst the plug in community. The Bolt has a unique way of dealing with it. If you don’t like strong regen and use drive mode, the engineers feel you probably like how a conventionally powered car performs and they give you artificial creep.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt At NAIAS: Image Credit - InsideEVs / Paul Raszewski

2017 Chevrolet Bolt At NAIAS: Image Credit – InsideEVs / Paul Raszewski

However, if you like strong regen and use low mode, or stop with using the Regan on Demand paddle, the artificial creep is disengaged. In those circumstances, the car will hold its position there, even if on an incline. There is no need to depress the friction brake. However, if the operator does press the friction brakes after coming to a stop using the regen, and then releases the brake pedal, the car will creep forward.

DC Fast Charge

With Tesla currently charging at over 100kW, and Audi & BMW talking about the new 150kW system they are working on, I asked Tavel what would be the highest speed of DC Fast charging the Bolt would accept. It’s clear this topic is one that is still being internally discussed, but I also got the feeling it will most likely be limited to what the current hardware in the ground can deliver, that being 50kW.

“We’re still figuring out how fast we want to go. We’ve over validated a lot of our components just in case, but were still figuring out if we want to limit it to say, 50kW’s or 60kW’s or possibly higher. That decision hasn’t been made yet but I can promise it won’t be lower than 50kW.”

Looking In The Back: 2017 Chevrolet Bolt At NAIAS ( InsideEVs / PaulRaszewski)

Looking In The Back: 2017 Chevrolet Bolt At NAIAS ( InsideEVs / PaulRaszewski)

Torque Steer

2017 Chevrolet Bolt At NAIAS: (InsideEVs / Tom Moloughney)

2017 Chevrolet Bolt At NAIAS: (InsideEVs / Tom Moloughney)

I drove a MINI-E for two and a half years so I know how a front wheel drive EV with lots of torque can feel. The MINI-E was a blast to drive, but under full acceleration I needed to hold the steering wheel tightly with both hands to keep it from jerking from side to side from the torque steer. I wanted to know how the Bolt would feel with 200 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque going to the front wheels.

“We’ve got some special controls in there for that. Our steering system and our EBCM (electronic brake control module) has some pretty slick calibrations in there to combat torque steer. You can feel a little bit of it but I think it feels fine. There’s a lot of power up there so if you were to remove the controls we put in place the torque steer would be pretty wicked.”

How Does The New 200 Mile Chevrolet Bolt EV Compare To Chevy's 2016 Volt?

How Does The New 200 Mile Chevrolet Bolt EV Compare To Chevy’s 2016 Volt?

Comparing the Bolt to the Volt

I asked Tavel to describe the performance of the Bolt, and possibly compare it to the plug in competition. Unsurprisingly, he chose the Volt as the car he would most closely compare the performance to.

“The Gen 2 Volt I think is a great car. Amazingly, I’d like to say that I believe we’ve worked it out so that performance wise we’re equal to where the Volt is. To me, there is no competitor I wanted the Bolt to be like. I think the Volt, the Gen 2 Volt specifically, is a really well done car. And that is a car we compare ourselves to a lot.”

Chevrolet Bolt EV Cutaway (click to enlarge)

Chevrolet Bolt EV Cutaway (click to enlarge)

Why the traditional gear shifter?

Since electric cars don’t really require a gear shifter, and some manufacturers like BMW, Nissan and Tesla have ventured from the norm of the traditional gear shifter on their electric offerings, I asked why the Bolt has what looks like a gear shifter for a traditional automatic transmission. Tavel was quick to dismiss the need to change what works.

“This isn’t some funky looking car that’s some whizzy statement. This is a mainstream car that happens to be propelled by electrification. It’s not some unique quirky little thing. (I couldn’t help but think he was referring to the BMW i3 here) It’s a real, no kidding, good car. It’s already an electric shifter, if you pull that away the car gets maybe a little more different than you might want, and quite honestly I think there are some questionable safety issues if your reaching up and moving things up there that I don’t think as a company we want to go to right now.”

Side note: Right as I was asking this next question, Carlos Ghosn and his entourage were escorted onto the platform behind us to have a private look at the Bolt on display. I couldn’t hear exactly what they were talking about, but he wasn’t smiling.

Chevrolet Bolt EV Cutaway

Chevrolet Bolt EV Cutaway

No Carbon Fiber?

The Bolt’s press release from GM stated the Bolt incorporated advanced materials including aluminum, magnesium and carbon fiber to help lightweight the vehicle. I asked him if he can explain where these materials were used, and how they helped save weight. Tavel was surprised there was a claim that carbon fiber was used on the Bolt, and in fact told me he believed that was incorrect. As for the use of advanced materials and light weighting, he said:

“We saved just shy of 50lbs by using all aluminum enclosures (all the exterior body panels are aluminum). The underbody is 95% high strength steel or advanced high strength steel, some of it is the first time it’s been used in production so far. The upper body, not counting the exterior panels is about 80% high strength steel, so there is a lot of advanced materials in there, but we didn’t use carbon fiber anywhere I can think of.”

On The Tech

2017 Chevrolet Bolt On The Road

On high tech advanced electronics

The Tech Inside (InsideEVs / PaulRaszewski)

The Tech Inside (InsideEVs / PaulRaszewski)

With more and more advance electronic features becoming available in today’s cars, I asked if the Bolt would feature any of these technologies. I specifically asked if the Bolt would have adaptive cruise control, lane departure assist, self parking, automatic braking or any autonomous driving features and I was a little surprised to hear it won’t, not even as optional equipment. They will however introduce a few new features that weren’t on my list. Tavel explained:

“No. Adaptive cruise control – no, you would need the blended brakes to do that and we didn’t want to do that with this car. However, all the standard side blind zones, rear cross traffic alert, ten air bags, all that’s there. What’s new is the optional Rear Camera Mirror. You normally have a 22 degree field of vision with a standard mirror, this takes you to 80. We also have optional Surround Vision, which you know is the 360 degree camera system. We’re still working hard to perfect it, but I’m told it’s the best one camera systems the guys have seen so far.”

Chevy Bolt's Friendly Dash At Night

Chevy Bolt’s Friendly Dash At Night


GM's 200 Mile EV Arrives Late 2016

GM’s 200 Mile EV Arrives Late 2016

Overall, I really got the feeling Tavel was extremely proud of the Bolt. He took particular pride in talking about how different this car is from anything GM has ever produced, and that his team worked relentlessly on every small detail to try to achieve perfection. While they are still actively improving things, they are actually pretty close to a finished product.

In fact, he said GM has executive test drives every week, and after some of the top brass drove the Bolt last week, they told Tavel he could release the car now, and as far as they are concerned it’s finished. He’s not satisfied yet though, and that’s what you’d expect from your chief engineer.

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297 responses to "Exclusive: Inside The Chevrolet Bolt With Its Chief Engineer – New Details"

  1. Ambulator says:

    Ouch, no blended brakes! I expected the Bolt to have them.

    GM doesn’t seem to care about fast charging. Fifty kW doesn’t cut it. That make the Bolt more of an extended local range car, rather than a potential gas car replacement.

    1. Rob says:

      How many cars have >50kW charging right now? 2. And they’re both made by Tesla. Where can you charge them at that speed other than Tesla Superchargers? Nowhere. So I can see why they aimed at the infrastructure available, though the 60kwh in the Bolt maybe deserved more attention in that area. It’s still better to charge for 50 minutes in a Bolt than stop 2-3 times for 20 minutes each time in an i3 or LEAF.

      1. bro1999 says:

        Let’s say GM advertised 100 kW charging and 80% charge in ~25 minutes.

        What CCS stations exist that currently charge at more than 50 kw? ZERO.

        People would be getting into their Bolts later this year, then find they can only charge at 50 kW max, then start cursing going “GM, YOU LIED TO ME!! YOU SUCK!!”

        Would it makes the critics happier if GM starting tossing around charge times with a mythical 800v quick charging system that doesn’t even exist yet, like VW/Porsche has been doing?

        1. Nick says:

          That’s backwards looking.

          Build for the future, not the past.

        2. scott franco says:

          You sold me this 32 bit computer, and I can’t find any 32 bit programs! You lied! You suck!

          1. Nick says:


            Very apt analogy.

          2. Raymondjram says:

            Now we have 64-bit processors with multiple cores. I still can’t find 64-bit software that runs on all cores at the same time.

            1. Dan says:

              This is definitely the most apt analogy.

              Think about the guy that sold you the 64 bit multi-core cluster when they were 10 times more expensive and convinced you to buy twice the memory you need because #future.

              1. Djoni says:

                I bought my Leaf in 2012 with the CHAdeMo port built into it, but I just start using it in 2014!
                I’m glad I took this option, because we have now over 30 DCFC( name BRCC here) that I can plug my car to.

                1. Jeff Songster says:

                  The GM guys should build in 100kW ccs dc quick charge in because there are some installed… and likely to be more soon.

        3. ffbj says:

          Um, people seem to get over rather quickly being lied to by car companies.

        4. Rebel44 says:

          GM could participate in Tesla SC network….

        5. Jason says:

          Build it in for the future. 5-10 years from now the charge stations will catch-up. Make it more than just a 3 year lease on this car.

      2. Ambulator says:

        People aren’t going to build CCS chargers capable of over 50 kW with no cars that can take advantage of them. Someone has to go first. GM isn’t trying if a Soul EV with half the battery can use a higher charge rate than the Bolt.

        1. ClarksonCote says:

          “GM isn’t trying if (insert obscure reference because they nailed every other detail).”

          Biased much?

          1. Ambulator says:

            I am a bit biased for GM, after all I drive a Volt. I try to keep that out of my comments, though.

            1. Anon says:

              Your points are valid. GM did everything to win headlines, but ignored establishing a sustainable long rang EV Environment by ignoring DCFC and refusing to build out infrastructure for it.

              Same schizophrenic GM.

              1. Stuart22 says:

                They also sell the Volt. The minute GM would begin contributing to QC expansion, you’d be accusing GM of not believing in the future of EREVs.

              2. ClarksonCote says:

                They’re in the car business. They made a car that can QC at the highest levels available today, and didn’t decide on whether or not to make it capable of higher rates yet.

                They aren’t building out gasoline infrastructure to support their SUV’s, and they never did. It is financially stupid for an automaker to build out a charging infrastructure. This car will excel, and by the time mass market adopts it, the QC network will be there.

                Either you want GM to build a QC network, or you admit that there’s no commercial viability for such a QC network. You can’t have both opinions.

                1. John Gallagher says:

                  Thank you!

                2. Omar M says:

                  They are not making it to be able charge at the fastest rate available, if they were they wouldn’t have went with CCS. CHAdeMO is already more widely available and very often at 60 kW. Tesla superchargers are at over 120 kW and they gave away thier patents and will allow any automaker to team up with them. Of course Tesla threatens the gas model which is every current automakers bread and butter so they don’t want to partner up with them.

            2. ClarksonCote says:

              Okay, I’ll bite. Gm is testing their vehicle for speeds in excess of 50kW. That is clearly stated in the article.

              Everything about this car says GM is trying. But they are also a company trying to make money. It is obvious that no matter what they do, someone will be asking for more. Why don’t they roll out a QC network, why don’t they advertise higher kW rates, why don’t they pay for our charging, why don’t they pay us to drive their vehicle, etc.

              Meanwhile, the mass market reads these posts and thinks “Sheesh, I guess EV’s can’t be that great, I’ll go buy a Suburban.”

              1. Steven says:

                Yep. That’s their market in a nutshell.

            3. AlphaEdge says:


      3. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Rob said:

        “How many cars have >50kW charging right now? 2. And they’re both made by Tesla. Where can you charge them at that speed other than Tesla Superchargers? Nowhere.”

        Yes, but it seems rather short-sighted for GM to not look to the future. There has been little or no demand for >50 kW charging, because no non-Tesla cars could accept such rapid charging.

        Since the Bolt is, apparently, a true 200+ mile EV, it should have the ability to charge consistent with that.

        As more 200+ mile BEVs appear on the roads, there will be demand for faster en-route charging. Too bad this 1st generation Bolt won’t be able to take advantage of that.

        Those who were looking for features for which the Tesla Model ≡ will clearly outclass the Bolt: This is one of ’em.

        1. taser54 says:

          Article clearly states that the Bolt’s components were validated for greater than 50kw charging rate. GM has simply not made the decision on how much charging to allow initially and there is nothing to prevent them from raising it later. Tesla did a similar thing with the Model S- started with lower charging rates for supercharging, then they raised the charging levels.

          1. skryll says:

            Except GM is said to not be able to do over the air updates – but maybe that will give the dealership service centers something to do down the road 🙂

          2. Bill Howland says:

            I read that as some of the components were rated for more than 50 kw – and he said the production version would have at least 50, but maybe as much as 60 kw.

            People are really splitting hairs here. It has a decent level 2 charger in it (32 amps, 7.2 kw when available) and not some 3 kw thing that one of my friends has to suffer along with on his ford Transit Connect EV, with its very small battery.

            This car, for its price, has an absolutely huge battery – making public charging much less often a necessity period.

            As far as not ‘planning ahead’ in my 2011 Volt owner’s manual, regarding 220 volt charging, it said the owner might want to provide a circuit protected at 40 amperes just to be ready for future products – which the BOLT, at 32 amps (if your home voltage happens to be a bit low) fully utilizes this ‘future-proofed’ circuit with one of the many 32 amp EVSE’s on the market such as CC or Leviton.

            The extremely LOW, LOW price of this vehicle, and its unprecedented VALUE means the car won’t have ABSOLUTELY every new-fangled feature in the book.

            I wish Tom had asked whether the CCS will be sold in the upper trim levels as has been Nissan’s policy with fast charging.

            I’m gleening that even the most bare bones BOLT will have the 7.2kw charging facility, which for me is all I’d ever need.

          3. jmollard says:

            Good point, Nissan also did it with the Leaf. Two years after it first appeared, the 2013 Leaf doubled its L2 charging rate as well.

      4. Paul says:

        The Kia Soul EV can charge to up to 100 kW. But there are less then a handfull of 100 kW CHAdeMO chargers now in Europe.

        1. Bill Howland says:

          It’ll charge at 25 kw at Tom’s Restaurant, the only one in NJ apparently.

          50 kw for a single car is alot, and you don’t get much more than that with 2 adjacent Teslas at a busy Supercharger.

          And there is something funny about the way KIA rates that 100 kw, its definitely no where near twice as fast as 50 KW. In their ads they say ‘USING A 100 kw charger, etc’, when they probably could say “Using a 65 kw charger”, but that doesn’t sound as “High Tech”.

          Heck, I’d please the Priusmaniac crowd by saying “Using a “5000 KW Charger, our car charges very fast”.

    2. Pat McSwain says:

      I don’t think fast charging going to be a big deal.

      Even at 50kW, this will charge the car while shopping or at a restraurant.

      But nearly all EV owners do over 90% their charging at home or work.

      Very few people use a pure EV as the only car in a family. Plus GM already sells an EV with exterder with unlimited range (Volt).

      1. Ambulator says:

        Yeah, I don’t really see the need to buy the DC charging option. With a 200 mile range the Bolt should be able to handle all the local travel I do, but with a 50 kW max charge rate I wouldn’t want to use it on a long trip.

        The number of times I want to go 200 to 300 miles is nearly never.

        1. Benjamin says:

          Not surprised that they initially build Bolts to accept max charge rate of 50 or 60 kw. A few years down the line if/when CCS chargers begin to deploy with more power, GM can offer faster charging on the next iteration of the Bolt.

          200 mile range plus conveniently located 50kw chargers will enable regional travel using the Bolt: three 2.5 hour driving sessions broken up by two one hour breaks for lunch and dinner will let you cover 500+ miles in a day.

          Unfortunately the ‘conveniently located 50kw chargers’ will be a problem, along with lack of multiple charger locations, etc … It will be a pain for Bolt owners to travel more than 180 miles away from home, tracking down a charging station, hoping it works and is not occupied.

          Tesla established a decisive advantage in charging network that enables regional or long-range use of their EVs. A 200 mile range EV should be useful for regional travel, but the Bolt will be limited by charge rate and charger network.

          1. scott franco says:

            Has there ever, even once, been a charger deployed with more power than any existing car can use?

            1. Josh says:

              Someone said there was at 150 kW CCS in Germany as a demonstration, but no cars can use it.

              I didn’t verify this, might have been a joke.

            2. mr. M says:

              I dont think so, but there are already buses with 500kW chargering inlets. I think i never saw a charger with more power than 500kW.

      2. Lou says:

        When you have a 60 kWh battery, you better have lots of time at home to charge it on a L2 home charger. Worse still, Bolts will be using the DCFC at least 2x longer than the rest of CCS users effectively putting a pinch on availability. I sure hope more CCS plugs are coming!

        1. Bill Howland says:

          “bolt will be at DCFC twice as long (as neccesary – presumably)”.


          The latest and greatest DCFC CCS chargers are 25 and then some 50 kw units… The BOlt will do at least 50, fully utilizing them.

          As far as L2 goes, they can use up to 32 amps, up to 7.2 kw, which is the maximum available by me within 180 miles in the states for the public stations available. So the BOLT fully utilizes these also, to the extent available.

          All for a very low priced vehicle. My VOlt and ELR successfully charge on 0.9 kw facilities most of the time, as it is the most common charging speed for these vehicles. The BOlt charging at home with optional facilities will charge 8 times as quickly per mile, or, for the same amount of time will go 8 times as far on electricity.

          In view of the low price, I think the complaints are not justified.

        2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          Lou said:

          “When you have a 60 kWh battery, you better have lots of time at home to charge it on a L2 home charger.”

          From what Tesla Model S owners report, 220-240 volt L2 charging is perfectly adequate for an 85 kWh battery pack. According to the article linked below, L2 charging maxes out at 19.2 kW. Since the Bolt will be capable of charging at up to 50 kW, I don’t see this being a problem.


    3. Pat McSwain says:

      Note that there is a 200+ mile car already, it just sells for about double the price with the same interior volume. It does has SuperCharger charging.

      Do you think Chevy should have made a $70,000 car instead of a $40,000 model?

      1. Anon says:

        They did. It was called the ELR. And they couldn’t sell it.

      2. scott franco says:

        Valid point. Now please explain why putting a better charger on the car would have cost $30,000?

        1. The onboard charger has nothing to do with how fast it can charge via DCFC. As far as I understand it, only the cabling would need to be able to physically handle the current from the port to the battery. The rest is whether they decide the battery can accept >50kW and to program the electronics accordingly, such that the car asks the (future higher powered) offboard charger for moar power!

    4. alohart says:

      Why would you want blended brakes? The i3 and Tesla’s cars don’t have blended brakes. Regen is controlled by the accelerator pedal, not the brake pedal. Sounds like the Bolt’s Low mode is true one-pedal driving without blended brakes.

      But this doesn’t prevent cars without blended brakes from having ACC. Our i3 will automatically apply the brakes when ACC is on only if regen is insufficient for the required deceleration rate.

    5. jerryd says:

      If GM doesn’t put in at least 100kw charging, they lose to the model 3 big time as no longer a longer trip capable and it’s resale value drops.
      So when the 3 comes out the Bolt will have to cut it’s price even deeper to compete. Not a smart business move getting the lead on low cost 200 mile EV’s then giving it away for a $50 OEM upgrade.
      As 150kw is only 2.5C, the batteries should handle it easily, the rest is just inlet and wire size.
      But then GM was stupid not bringing both the Volt and Bolt out as Cadillac’s first boggles my mind too as plain dumb. Didn’t they learn anything in marketing?

      1. Or maybe it’s a very smart, shrewd marketing move by GM. What are the odds Tesla will actually sell significant quantities of M3 before 2018? Fairly low. Perhaps GM is thinking we’ll launch the Bolt first and have at least a year head start, and we’ll do it with xyz parts to keep costs down as much as possible. When M3 is finally available as the only real competition to Bolt, then we can upgrade some parts for faster DC charging, and hopefully by then other costs have come down for us so we can do this and still protect our margins.

    6. Grammar police says:

      Blended brakes? Why on earth would any real EV want blended brakes? Every automaker who has tried blending regen and friction with the brake pedal has failed, often miserably so. Right pedal is for drive and regen – left pedal is for friction brakes. Immensely superior.

      I also laughed out loud when Tavel claimed adaptive cruise control wasn’t an option without blended brakes. Can someone please enlighten young master Tavel?

      1. Ambulator says:

        I must disagree. If I want to slow down or stop I step on the brake. It only makes sense for that to use regeneration as much as possible. I find it works fine in the Volt.

      2. ziv says:

        GP, your post and a few others has confused the heck out of me. When I press softly on the brake pedal, all of the braking is via regen, not friction. What am I missing here? All Volts have blended braking and it is smooth and the only way you can tell it is regen is the power gained on the driver info screen. I have gained more than a mile coming down a mountain road.

        1. ziv says:

          I re-read that and it still makes no sense. I think Tavel was talking about something very specific and not what most of us would consider to be blended regen and friction braking, because the Volt has it. And so, logically, would the Bolt. Not sure, now I am going to drive down the longest hill I can find and brake lightly the whole way down…

          1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            It might be helpful if those posting about “blended brakes” define their terms. I haven’t encountered that term before. In context, I’m guessing it means a blend of regenerative braking and regular (friction) braking, but perhaps different people here are using the term to mean different things. If so, perhaps different viewpoints are the result of differing definitions, and not an actual disagreement on facts.

            1. Ziv says:

              I think you are right Push, and I wish Tavel would clarify what he means by blended braking. Because when I depress the Volt brake pedal I get regen and if I push harder I get friction and they do seem to blend from regen to friction very smoothly.
              And I am not sure how Adaptive Cruise Control would be a problem.

  2. fotomoto says:

    Great job GM! Great article Tom. Lots of interesting info.

    1. Thanks. I’m still absorbing all of what we covered. I may have enough to do another post next week.

      1. jerryd says:

        Nice new info. Especially the alum siding, HSS details.
        What I’d really like to know is it’s weight or wthr/mile which if you get to drive it the display will show you.

  3. M. St. J. says:

    ‘Ghosn was not smiling’ Good! That might move things at Nissan a bit faster.

    1. DocDragon says:

      Then again, I rarely see him smiling in the first place… ?

      1. AlphaEdge says:

        He clearly is a Vulcan. Looks like one, anyway. Pure analytic mind on that guy, while suppressing his emotions.

    2. Scramjett says:

      I noticed that too. It made me wonder if he saw something in the Bolt that he felt was lacking in the Leaf 2.0? Very curious indeed.

  4. Comparing a “normal” shifter to the bizarro shifter on the i3, I’ll take the former every time. I’m not looking to make a fashion statement every time I shift.

    I hope we turn GM around on infrastructure, but I suspect we won’t. This car is well received, and will easily sell the 20-30k volume they seem to think is likely. It also ticks all the boxes for CARB-ZEV (yes, Virginia, this 200 mile car will get the exact same 4 credits as a Tesla Model S or X) and bump up that EPA fleet average mpg.

    Selling millions of profitable gasoline cars in California and other CARB states means that they could nearly give this car away and still be profitable.

    1. Alan says:

      That 20-30k volume might not be quite as restricted as you think !

        1. Alan says:

          I had read it also !

          1. Jay Cole says:

            Our take on the production is that GM had to set a number, and that 25-30k number is the starting point.

            Could it be raised higher? For sure.

            But like Nissan in the early US production days, they put monthly volume at ~1,900 units, from there they built out capacity, scaled to those initial volume levels, made 3rd party supplier orders/schedules, etc…they then later decided/were forced (due to demand) to move up that close to 3,000 in 2014, but it took a solid 8 months to get there and catch up with inventory. You are only as fast as the slowest piece in the chain.

            Again, the original source/story (which one should read again) for the 25-30k EVs was via GM’s own third party suppliers, the ones that broke the news of the Bolt’s production itself (before GM revealed – which GM’s PR responded to by saying the Bolt was still being “evaluated” at the time…and then following that up by announcing that it was in production six days later), and the fact it would start out of GM’s Orion plant (before GM), in October 2016 (before GM), and that there would be an Opel version for Europe (before GM)…all of which where later confirmed. So the credibility factor is off the charts on the information.

            This new mention of the capacity being higher is from GM’s product representative, who is saying if GM got 50,000 orders, nothing is stopping them from filling it…which is true, they could/would, but it would take some time. What he is not saying is, we are building capacity to produce 4,000/units a month this fall – there is a big difference.

            Again, there is no negative points to GM on this starting level. 25-30k is a hefty starting production run for an all-electric car, it is a higher run-rate than any other plug-in project start right out of the gate to date, that is outside of Tesla with the S in 2012.

            There will be a lot more competition (real and just announced) between today and when the Bolt EV arrives, 25-30k might be the perfect level…you could certainly argue either way very easily at this point with the limited knowledge we have at the moment.

            1. Alan says:

              I’d be surprised if they couldn’t find 3k buyers a month pretty quick given the leaf managed this at one point with less than half the mileage.

              I had heard they were expanding the battery production to meet expected demand but this remains to be seen.

            2. bro1999 says:

              There were also “U/I GM supplier sources” that told news outlets that the Gen 2 Volt would have 2 battery options, a cheaper version with 20-something miles of range, and a pricier one with increased range. We saw how that one played out.

            3. taser54 says:

              This is a very good response Jay. Thank you for contributing to clearing the air.

        2. Dwayne says:

          Don’t forget they only get to make about 100,000 before the rebates run out. That gives them just three years to cut another $7500.00 off the cost.

      1. GM’s “Unofficial” goal for the Bolt is 30,000 units per year, but they claim to have the capacity to make much more if the demand it there.

        They made a really compelling EV, but I’m still concerned with their ability to market it, and their dealer networks ability to properly sell it. It will probably sell over 20,000 per year on it’s merits alone, but you need a good marketing plan and proper dealer assistance to move much higher than that. So far, GM hasn’t shown they really understand how to market their plug ins, or how to train their dealer network to understand how to really sell them.

        1. Alan says:

          I could be wrong but I think the car will sell itself, as long as the dealers want to shift them that is ?

        2. Josh says:

          Agreed. Like the Volt, the Bolt’s problem isn’t the quality of the vehicle.

          If you need any more proof that GM marketing isn’t ready, look at the two names. I have seen tons of posters here (EV enthusiasts) mixed the two names up over and over again. Not a good sign to come for average Joes and worse, average pickup truck salesmen.

          GM would never offer a Silverado truck and a Dilverado truck.

          1. bro1999 says:

            Well, plus Dilverado sounds a lot like something else NSFW if you say it really fast…

            They do sell a Colorado along side a Silverado. The Bolt/Volt name issue is also overblown IMO.

            1. E says:

              Manufactured out of whole cloth you mean?
              A completely fabricated “issue”.
              One wonders how the two words exist in English.

        3. Jacked says:

          Dealers will be the biggest hurdle. Many will talk prospective customers out of the Bolt and will never suggest it to anyone, and few will be knowledgable to answer any serious questions. If the reliability matches or exceeds the Volt then dealers will be faced with a steep learning curve to occasionally service an alien car.

          1. +1 – That’s my biggest concern.

          2. Mike says:

            That’s entirely up to GM. Give a good compensation structure for selling Bolts and the sales staff will push them.

          3. scott franco says:

            I agree but it is going to depend on the dealer. With my Leaf they talked me into prepaying for the service over the life of the lease, and now I think that was excessive. They said the car should come for service every 6 months. With the Spark they didn’t ask for a prepay, and said the car could come back once a year.

        4. taser54 says:

          If GM can change course in designing an EV like the Bolt, it can change course and market an EV like the Bolt.

          It takes a commitment by GM leadership- which we appear to have.

          We’ll see as the marketing for the 2017 Volt (yes Volt) begins.

        5. John Gallagher says:

          I think GM has there sweet spot on how many they want to sell and we probably will see that with a lack of marketing. How much say, leverage, pressure can GM put on the dealers? Im my opinion a major weak spot for GM is the dealers and back in the day I worked for one for a month and they treated there customers awful

    2. Rob says:

      The thing is… you don’t shift.

    3. bro1999 says:

      During my 4 day test drive of an i3 a year ago, I found the shifter “nub” location pretty annoying. The times I wanted to coast in N on the highway, I had to look down at the stalk to make sure I put it in N.

      1. Rob says:

        Not sure if trolling. You seriously wanted to put the car in N on the highway?

        1. bro1999 says:

          Coasting down a big hill? Yep.

          1. jelloslug says:

            Why would you shift it in to neutral when you can just do it with the accelerator peddle?

            1. Rob says:

              Exactly. Not to mention it’s not really safe. I think it’s possibly illegal because of that, and it doesn’t save fuel in a modern ICE… and in an EV, isn’t the whole point that you get to regen a bit of battery as you descend?

            2. bro1999 says:

              Because I don’t want to use my foot to feather the pedal down the hill? I’d rather let it rest. And there’s that thing called physics that says coasting in N will always be more efficient than using regen down a hill.

              And please, give me a break about coasting on the highway being dangerous. People have been doing it forever, be it in a Prius or depressing the clutch a stick shift.

              1. Jacked says:

                You think neutral is more efficient than regenerative coasting? Wow.

                1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

                  Of course coasting in neutral when going down a long hill is more energy-efficient than using regen. Recovery of energy from regen is, at best, only about 64% efficient, and probably in practice often less so.

                  Regen is only more efficient when you actually want to slow down or stop.

                  That said, in PEVs build for “one-pedal driving”, you may be able to coast if you can find exactly the right pedal pressure, neither accelerating nor using regen.

                  And I seriously question the assertion that running down a hill in Neutral is dangerous in a BEV. I think this comes from the idea that if you shut off the engine on a gasmobile and coast in Neutral, in a modern car, that’s dangerous because you lose power brakes and power steering. But in a BEV, that shouldn’t matter. The accessories are still being fully powered when the car is in Neutral.

                  I am, however, willing to be persuaded I’m wrong on this last point, if someone can give a reason why coasting in a BEV would be dangerous.

                  1. bro1999 says:

                    I think some of these guys are under the belief the brake lights become disengaged if you shift into neutral or something.

                    Coasting in BEVs is dangerous, but coasting in gas cars is not because……???

                  2. Jacked says:

                    If you’re coasting down a hill then you need to brake. Obviously regen is more efficient.

                  3. Michael Parker says:

                    The reason it is dangerous to ‘shift’ any vehicle into neutral while in an active traffic scenario such as a highway is because if the need arises for the driver to apply power, at least one extra step is involved in order to apply said power. When travelling at 60+mph a second can make all the difference.
                    For example; a car pulls into your lane from a side road while coasting in neutral. You don’t have enough space to brake and avoid collision, so your best option is to brake enough to perform a quick lane change. You look quickly to see if you have room to make the lane change and see a car approaching faster than you to your left; if you make the lane change and remain at your current (slower) speed, chances are you will cause an accident with the approaching vehicle, so you are required to accelerate to match flow of traffic in your new lane.
                    This all happens within 1-2 seconds. Adding an addition second or so to reach for your shifter and engage Drive could be the difference between successfully avoid an accident or ending up in a pile of mangled car.

                    1. Michael Parker says:

                      Liken it to being a soldier in a combat situation with his weapon either holstered or with safety engaged.

                  4. Djoni says:

                    No sir, you’re wrong!
                    PP and Bro you are doing it with no reason.
                    Review your basic physic and add some reality to it.
                    Coasting is efficient only if you avoid using energy to get to a certain point instead of rushing at this point and having to break strongly to stop.
                    Or if you go downhill on a soft grade that don’t accelerate the car.
                    That a lot of waste, energy to keep speed and more energy to dissipate when braking.
                    But if you coast downhill, you gain speed, sometime a lot of speed and this waste much energy moving the air around you might end up braking to keep your speed in safe/legal composure.
                    On the other hand if you just use cruise control, all that surplus (60% or so efficiency) energy that gravity give you would just be send back in the battery
                    I know because I try it and at highway speed letting the car regen in cruise while downhill give you more range and don’t make you and unpredictable driver.

              2. ffbj says:

                I used to have an old 1970 Saab with free-wheeling, the last year it was available in the U.S. Loved It.

              3. MTN Ranger says:

                Here’s a good question. Would the paddle regen braking work with the Bolt in neutral? That would eliminate a lot of safety concerns.

            3. bro1999 says:

              You guys must never go even 1 mph over the speed limit, because the government says doing so is dangerous to do so, right?

          2. 2013VOLT says:

            Wouldn’t you rather capture the regen when going down a big hill? There is no regen in nuetral.

            1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

              The only rational reason to use regen (regenerative braking, which is using the motor to brake) when going downhill would be to avoid the car accelerating (under gravity) to a dangerous speed. Unless it’s a steep hill, such as going down a mountain, it’s far better to coast in neutral, to avoid wasting energy.

              That’s basic physics: No reaction or process is 100% efficient.

              Regen is very far indeed from 100% efficient in recapturing the energy. The last analysis I saw suggested that at best you lose about 1/3 of the energy, and probably more in most conditions. I suppose it’s possible that the efficiency has been improved over the past several years, but I doubt it has improved that much.

              1. bro1999 says:

                I’m glad we’re on the same page here, P-P. Informing the masses, 1 e-person at a time. :p

              2. Jacked says:

                How many hills exist that let one coast at exactly the desired speed? Few to none. How many people actually identify these hills and shift to N on the way down? Few to none.

                1. Chops says:

                  Who said they wanted to coast down a hill at an exact speed? You speed up some (maybe a bit over the speed limit 🙂 ) while coasting.

                  You obviously don’t do it and don’t know of anyone who does. But, obviously other people do it without problems (Including me ). Not necessarily every hill or every time. It’s an option. Options are good. It is optional. If you don’t want to personally do it – don’t.

              3. Josh says:

                Tesla added torque sleep to the dual motor vehicles because of the same physics.

              4. Djoni says:

                There is no rational in your rational here.
                Of course transferring energy imply losses.
                What do you think you do when you accelerate with gravity?
                You speed up and you square the aerodynamic losses, so no gain there instead of regenerating a bit and keep constant speed.
                ICE car don’t have regenerating so it is beneficial to free wheel and the same applied with cycling but just because you can’t regenerate.
                But If you can, it’s better to get some back, because the car will go downhill anyway and put some extra energy in the battery while coasting will just let you waste aerodynamic friction.

      2. Tummy says:

        The column shifter on all Mercedes and Tesla must drive you crazy. Or the joystick like thing on automatic ICE BMWs.

    4. vdiv says:

      If you spend any amount of time driving the i3 greater than a couple of minutes the “bizzaro” shifter makes a lot of sense. I was skeptical initially and thought it looked like a giant tumor growing out of the steering column, but by the time the testdrive was over I really liked it.

      1. Raymondjram says:

        The 2017 Ford Fusion Energi will have a rotary “shift knob” instead of the level. Visit http://www.ford.com and see it for yourself.

    5. Stimpy says:

      I give BMW credit for being bold enough to make something that works better, traditionalists be damned.

      Pulling backwards to go forwards has never made logical sense and never will. Pull off that band-aid already.

      1. Michael says:

        At first I thought the gear shift on the LEAF was backwards, but I see some advantages. Shifting into reverse requires a more focused effort to grip the puck and move my entire hand and arm forward. Not something I would do inadvertently. Similarly, shifting into neutral requires gripping the puck and moving it to the left. But a slight pull with only my fingertips lets me easily and quickly engage B-mode regen. Very handy when I exit the highway and want full regen on the off ramp. Another pull loops back to drive.

        In fact, since regen is like compression in an ICE vehicle, I think it should mimic the PRND2L shift pattern. Each downshift adding more regen then looping back to drive. I think this would also work well on a paddle shifter.

        D. 1. 2. 3. then back to D.

        Would this be too confusing?

    6. Scott Lawrence Lawson says:

      How often do you shift in an EV or even in any modern automatic car? In my i3 I like that the shifter is out of the way. It is really not that bizzare. Just a cheap shot from the GM engineer about his non-innovative creation.

  5. Rob says:

    They’ve done a fantastic job. Can we have it in the UK please GM!

    The gearstick thing is nonsense though. Wasted opportunity to create some space, done so well in the i3.

    1. Jon says:

      I think the uk is getting a Vauxhall version

      1. Jay Cole says:

        Sorry Jon, no Bolt for you. It is coming to Europe, but only as an Opel, and only in LHD.

        1. Phr3d says:

          Got a Benjamin sez RHD by ’17 MY.
          frankly, I’d bet more’n that – but the jury is out as to how GM will market it/them.

          1. Phr3d says:

            oops, ’18MY, my brain is even slower than my typing..

            1. Jay Cole says:

              Nope I saw the ’17 first. You’re on!

              …you want me to send you my paypal address now?

              Sidenote: I’m not sure I can ethically take bets in this situation…but I would love too, such easy money, but it (RHD) just isn’t going to happen then, (=

              1. Phr3d says:

                (lowers rose-tints a shade) see ya’ in DEC ’17

      2. Alan says:

        I’m afraid we have to wait for the leaf 2.0,

        But it will only be a couple of months behind !

  6. realdb2 says:

    EVs can improve on 100’s of things. I wish people would stop dwelling on the shifters.

  7. jelloslug says:

    No adaptive cruse and 50kw DC charging really puts a damper on it being a long distance EV.

    1. skryll says:

      Self park is a gimmick but adaptive cruise control is a must. I am shocked to read they won’t offer it.

      1. mhpr262 says:

        I hate cruise control and have never used it on any car that had it.

        1. jelloslug says:

          Good for you. I bet you are still mad because they paved the road outside of your house and now you cannot keep your horse shod anymore.

        2. skryll says:

          i dont use cruise control ever either but adaptive cruise control = automated driving in stop and go traffic I would use all the time. I tried it on a tesla and it was awesome, I heard the i3 has it too. My eGolf hasn’t and I would not buy another car that doesn’t have it. It’s a major oversight to not have it by design.

          1. Foob says:

            Really? The eGolf doesn’t have it? I rented a (petrol) Golf over the holidays, and it had acc. It was really nice; I definitely want it in my next car.

            1. Skryll says:

              US version of e-Golf 2015 does not have it.

          2. Scott Lawrence Lawson says:

            100% agree, adaptive cruise control is one of the best innovations for long range driving. I use it 99% of my freeway driving in my i3. Take a bit of trust to really get used to it. But so did trusting auto-save on modern word processors!

        3. Djoni says:

          When I’m racing, cruise is very annoying.

    2. Texas FFE says:

      Personally I think ACC is more useful around town than on long trips. Unless you own a Tesla or live and travel up and down the east or west coasts, the lack of charging stations makes DCFC capabilities pretty much useless for long trips anyway.

    3. Pat McSwain says:

      ACC and AES are very helpful to people who don’t like paying attention when they drive. It will be greatest improvement so far for drunk or texting drivers ever.

      I’ve driven from the Pacific to the Atlantic a number of times. Oddly, ACC never became an issue. I constantly adjust my following distance based on the road and other vehicles. Note: I said following distance, not speed. ACC cannot automatically add a car length or two when the car ahead of you is not paying attention in traffic, or when the road is in bad shape, or visibility is poor (tall truck, corners, lighting).

      1. Texas FFE says:

        ACC is a lot more useful than you make out. I see wrecks on my commute at least once a week and most of could have been prevented with ACC. Even the best drivers can get distracted and run into the person in front of them.

        1. Philip d says:

          Plus if more people had and used ACC then it would help some to smooth out the accordion phenomenon that leads to stop and go traffic to begin with.

      2. Stimpy says:

        ACC does not remove the need to pay attention, it simply reduces stress while driving. It’s probably necessary to own a car with this feature to understand.

      3. Loboc says:

        ACC does not automatically add following distance, but, the driver has a control to do near, mid, and far.

    4. Jacked says:

      Adaptive cruise isn’t a big deal – I’ve been making road trips for decades without it. If there is too much traffic for cruise control then I turn it off and use my foot. I can even hold a conversation while I modulate my speed. It’s like riding a bike or driving a car with a manual transmission.

      Slow charging rates are a real issue but there isn’t much GM can do about it at this point since the chargers don’t exist. My hope is that the Bolt will sell well in excess of 30K/year and this will prompt GM will rethink their charger infrastructure strategy.

      1. skryll says:

        It’s not for road trips, it’s for daily commute in stop and go traffic like we have here all the time.

        1. Jacked says:

          Use your foot for stop and go driving.

          1. Stimpy says:

            Have you tried ACC before? And if so, for how long?

        2. alohart says:

          Exactly! I drive 100% of the time with our i3’s ACC on. I can temporarily disable it by a quick steering wheel button press when I need to stop for a traffic signal with no car in front of me, when I need to reduce speed temporarily to merge into traffic, etc. With ACC always on, should I not see a stopped car in front, ACC will stop for me. The Bolt not having ACC is a real negative for me.

          1. Texas FFE says:

            I’ve only test driven the I3 a couple of times but think the ACC on the I3 is great. I thought the one pedal driving was a bit unnerving but I see now that with the stop and go ACC of the I3 you hardly ever need to put your foot on the accelerator pedal. So it’s more like no feet driving. I wish all cars had this kind of ACC.

    5. Ziv says:

      jello, Tavel said they were looking at 50 or 60 kW charging, or possibly more. I would bet the number is 60 kW charge rate. Considering the most likely scenario for needing/wanting fast charging is going from 15% to 80% of 60 kWH, you would be looking at a fast top off of around 40 kWh and you could do it in 40 minutes or so. Being able to pick up 150 miles of range in 40 minutes makes the Bolt a reasonable (not great) road trip car once the DC Fast charging network fills in a bit. And considering how many DCFC spots have opened this past year, it is looking fairly good.

      ” 50kW’s or 60kW’s or possibly higher. That decision hasn’t been made yet but I can promise it won’t be lower than 50kW.”

  8. Phatcat73 says:

    I’m wondering if this car will have OTA updates, similar to Tesla? or at least some sort of wifi or USB download option?

    1. Rebel44 says:

      AFAIK, OTA updates were ruled out.

  9. Mister G says:

    No carbon fiber, not surprised…carbon fiber is expensive to manufacture.

    1. bro1999 says:

      And probably more expensive to replace!

      1. I only asked that question because the GM had previously said the Bolt would incorporate advance materials like aluminum, magnesium and carbon fiber to help reduce weight.

        1. Pat McSwain says:

          The newer steel and aluminum alloys are going to make carbon fiber for street applications sort of silly. The weight benefit isn’t what it used to be. GM already uses a lot of advanced polymers in the body (might think of it as glass filled plastic, but improved).

          Carbon fiber doesn’t do crash protection ass well as newer polymers anyhow. It’s stronger, but can’t absorb impacts well. It snaps on impact.

          1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            Pat McSwain said:

            “The newer steel and aluminum alloys are going to make carbon fiber for street applications sort of silly. The weight benefit isn’t what it used to be.”

            That seems quite doubtful. The BMW i3 achieves a notably higher miles-per-kWh efficiency than other BEVs, and that’s very probably almost entirely due to its lower weight from using a CFRP (carbon-fiber reinforced polymer) body.

            Also, CFRP offers the potential for significantly lower costs in making automobile bodies, once mass production is scaled up. Stamped metal bodies are a mature technology, so there is little or no room for cost-cutting there.

            “Carbon fiber doesn’t do crash protection ass well as newer polymers anyhow. It’s stronger, but can’t absorb impacts well. It snaps on impact.”

            Do you have a citation to support that? This is something I’ve seen asserted several times, but I don’t think actual crash tests support that fear.

            1. MikeM says:

              I’ve personally seen the results of a couple of sailboat dismastings where the carbon fiber mast just snapped in two.

              An aluminum mast will typically kink and fold over a little more “gracefully”.

              Sorry, no citation.
              Just some internet commenter here adding to the illumination/noise.

              1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

                I have no doubt that’s true, but not all polymers have the same shear strengths. Just because that carbon fiber mast snapped like a brittle twig, doesn’t necessarily mean the CFRP of the i3’s body will.

                And as has already been said, I think we should pay attention to the result of actual automobile crash tests.

            2. RussB says:

              The i3 is not all that light. When you normalize the Plan View Areas and compare with a Leaf, the mass difference is only about 80 kg. This doesn’t even take into account the fact that the Leaf is a 5-passenger and the i3 a 4-passenger car, or that the i3 has a lighter battery.
              From an environmental point of view, using CFRP in place of steel or aluminium is a terrible idea. Production of CFRP averages around 1.5-2 times the CO2 emissions of aluminium and as much as 10-11 times the CO2 emissions of steel. An 80 kg mass savings is not nearly enough (especially in a BEV) to compensate for all of the extra CO2 from the CFRP.
              CFRP does fail catastrophically, but this does not mean it is useless in crash protection. Axial crash loads (e.g smashing the open end of a tube) can be handled pretty well by CFRP, given the proper design. Perpendicular loads, however, Like those on a b-pillar in a side impact, are more of a challenge because, in addition to energy absorption, you have to really limit intrusion, which is more difficult to do when the material fails the way CFRP does. Many designs use a multi-material strategy in which the CFRP is wrapped in a steel or aluminium component, but of course this limits the amount of mass you can save and complicates part production and assembly.

              1. alohart says:

                The 2016 24 kWh Leaf weighs 282 kg more than the i3 BEV. I doubt that the i3’s battery pack is lighter than the Leaf’s when the i3’s active battery pack cooling system, missing on the Leaf, is included. The i3 is considerably taller than the Leaf, so one would need to normalize the side area as well as the plan area to try to determine how much weight reduction could be attributed to the i3’s CFRP. That’s a tough comparison to make, but I doubt that BMW would have spent so much money on CFRP if it didn’t reduce the i3’s weight considerably.

                1. AlphaEdge says:

                  “With the BMW i3, we get a reduction of 250-350 kilos [550-770 pounds] from carbon fiber,” says Daniel Schafter, head of production of Concept BMW I, “and that more or less compensates for the weight of the battery.”

                  from here:

                2. RussB says:

                  Plan View Area is the main predictor of curb mass, not so much side view. Even so, i3 is 1 in taller, so SVA and PVA are at about the same ratio with Leaf (the big difference between the Leaf and i3 is the length, not the width).
                  I also think the mass difference is actually a little more than that. At any rate, when normalized let’s say it is in the 100kg range. This does not include all of the other mass-saving that BMW did, and it does not account for the fact that the Leaf is a five-passenger vehicle, which means that its GVW is higher, which means it needs a stouter (read heavier) structure. If those two things account for just, say, 40 kg of difference, then the mass savings of the body structure is 60 kg! Not much.
                  And certainly not enough to offset all of the extra carbon in the atmosphere from all of that CFRP…

                  1. Ambulator says:

                    The energy used to create the carbon reinforced plastic is mostly hydropower. That’s one reason the plant is in Washington.

                  2. AlphaEdge says:

                    Considering most rides in a vehicle is with a single occupant, but lets give the Leaf bonus points for transporting up to 5 people.

                    I’m not a fan of BMW or it’s extremely expensive i3, but let’s keep things in perspective here.

                    2016 Leaf weight: 3,342 lbs
                    2015 i3 weight: 2,634 lbs
                    Difference: 708 lbs!!!

                3. jerryd says:

                  Alothart, the i3 is badly designed and weighs more than some steel cars the same size.
                  For some reason they put a heavy alum frame, crash system under it.
                  Has they did it right it would weigh 1500lbs and have a 120 mile EV range.
                  Their REx instead of being advanced, weighs 365lbs when it shouldn’t weigh 150lbs. Again they are not doing well.

                  1. Ziv says:

                    jerry, your comment about getting cars like the i3 down to 1500 pounds is pushing the edge pretty hard. I realize that you work with carbon fiber material, but even the Smart for 2 weighs 1800+ pounds, and it is clown car sized.


                  2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

                    jerryd said:

                    “…the i3 is badly designed…”

                    That’s an opinion, and certainly a debatable one.

                    “…and weighs more than some steel cars the same size.”

                    Presumably steel cars without a heavy battery pack.

                    “For some reason they put a heavy alum frame, crash system under it.”

                    The i3 is made as a lightweight body mounted on a sturdy, stiff aluminum frame. I have no doubt there were sound engineering reasons for doing that.

                    It’s going to be interesting to see if more vehicles will, or won’t, be made using CFRP bodies. I’m guessing they will.

              2. AlphaEdge says:

                But as the wikipedia BMW i3 article states:

                “BMW is manufacturing carbon strands that form the basis of the i3’s carbon-fiber reinforced plastic bodywork at a new US$100 million plant built in Moses Lake, Washington, using raw material shipped from Japan. This location was selected to take advantage of the abundant hydroelectric power available in this U.S. region because carbon-fiber production requires considerable energy and would otherwise emit much carbon dioxide.”

                So as you can see, the i3’s CFRP is made quite environmentally friendly.

                1. RussB says:

                  This is a fallacious argument.
                  Every joule of energy that BMW buys from the dam to make that CFRP is one more joule that someone else has to buy from the grid, so the net effect is the impact of the grid, not of the dam.

                  1. AlphaEdge says:

                    That’s so lame RussB! BMW should be applauded in making the chassis in Moses Lake, but I guess someone will figure out some negative no matter how small.

                    1. RussB says:

                      A piece of completely unsolicited advice: ad hominem attacks just make serious people cross you off of their list of people to take seriously.

                  2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

                    RussB said:

                    “Every joule of energy that BMW buys from the dam to make that CFRP is one more joule that someone else has to buy from the grid, so the net effect is the impact of the grid, not of the dam.”

                    That would only be true if electricity generated anywhere is used anywhere. Certainly some percentage of grid electricity comes from long-distance transmission, but in general, electricity tends to be used in the region where it’s generated.

                    BMW is to be applauded for choosing a location that gives its manufacturing a large portion of “green” electricity.

                    1. RussB says:

                      The point is that there is not an unlimited supply of hydropower, so when the Moses Lake CF plant opened, with its direct connection to the dam, that meant that the other people on that grid had to go elsewhere for that amount of energy. That energy will most likely mostly come from coal (almost 25% of the local energy currently comes from coal – http://www.epa.gov/energy/power-profiler [zip code 98837]), which means the net GHG effect of the additional energy used for the CFRP is not only not zero, but is higher than that of the grid before the CF plant opened. The current GHG intensity of that region (WECC Northwest) is about half that in Pittsburgh (RFC West) – I don’t know where they make the steel for the Leaf, so let’s just assume it’s Pittsburgh. CFRP takes about 10-12x the energy to produce that steel does, so that means 5-6x more GHG emissions given the different grids. Even if you could save 50% of the mass using CFRP (and a rough calculation points to much, much less mass savings in the i3), you would still be looking at 2.5-3x more GHG emissions from the CFRP design. You are not going to make that up in the driving phase in a BEV. And, of course, the CFRP is not recyclable.
                      This all means that, while it is better that they chose Moses Lake than, say, Huntington, WV, to make the CFRP, it would be even better if they had not made it at all.
                      I am not trying to get into the i3 vs Leaf debate (the i3 is a fascinating piece of engineering), but if at least part of the argument for BEVs is environmental, we should look seriously at the whole picture.

                    2. RussB says:

                      Correction: the additional energy will likely come from natural gas, not coal. This is still a higher GHG intensity than the regional grid average, so the reasoning, which is based on the existing regional grid value, is still sound.

            3. jerryd says:

              I do composites for a living 45 yrs and in CF you have to over build for crash protection.
              Vs other fibers like Kevlar types are cheaper, stronger by far that used with medium tech composites, FG, is a far better, lighter, stronger at 20% of CF
              Nothing could increase range and decrease cost of EV’s as doing them right in medium tech composites at 60% of the weight, cost of a metal EV.

            4. cmg186 says:

              Hmm… is the i3’s miles per kw rating notably higher than the much older, steel-bodied i-MiEV?

              Coincidentally, the weight of the two cars is similar too.

          2. Stimpy says:

            Even if you believe that CFRP doesn’t work in crashes (guess crash testing data isn’t proof?!), there are plenty of places on a car that CFRP can be used that has no affect on crashes.

  10. Lewis says:

    Still nothing on what type of cabin heating and defrosting. Until we know that the 200 mile range figure is meaningless in the northern half of the US in the winter.

    1. This was on my list of questions. I don’t know how, but I somehow skipped the question during the interview. Probably because we frequently went off topic and just talked about EV’s in general for a bit. Immediately after the interview I realized I misses the heat pump or resistive heater question. Grrrrr

      1. taser54 says:

        {shakes fist}

      2. Lewis says:

        You have plenty of company among your colleagues in missing this. Anyone actually living with an EV in the northern half of the US would have asked that question 1st!

        1. Truth is, I live with an EV in the Northeast, and have driven through eight consecutive winters in an ~80 mile EV, so I know how important it is. It was on the first page of questions I had, but somehow I skipped it.

          When your interviewing someone like Tavel, you don’t hit them with the technical questions right out of the gate. You start off with some general questions like “What was the biggest challenges?”, “What were you going for with regards to driving dynamics?”, etc. before you pull out the specific technical Q’s. 🙂

          1. Phr3d says:

            goldurnit, Tom, you only kicked @ on 99.97% of your coverage, you’re fired.


            (exemplary work Tom, still look forward to the tales of the pitfalls you’ve run into getting to/covering these events.
            Thank You!)

            1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

              Hear, hear! This article has far more “meat” than the average Internet article. This has plenty to sink our teeth into!

              I look forward to seeing more articles by Mr. Moloughney.

  11. SparkEV says:

    If Bolt has 100 more horses (or even 50 more), it would’ve been quite nice. Fortunately for Bolt, Ford (focus ST) sucks even more in 5-60, saving it from being the slowest $30K compact car.

    Then there’s the issue of not participating in DCFC. Unlike SparkEV that was quickest charging in the world, Bolt is now the slowest charging in the world. Come on Chevy. Wake up!

    1. bro1999 says:

      Uh, did you read the article? Chief engineer said the Bolt will have at least 50 kW L3 charging capability.

      And Spark EV having the “quickest charging in the world”? Really?

      I can pull a similar stunt and say I just ran the fastest timed sprint in the world….way faster than Usain Bolt!

      …..I’ll just leave out that tiny part saying I ran only 1 meter compared to 100.

      Get real man.

      1. SparkEV says:

        Bolt takes 50 minutes to get 80%, that’s slow. Since most people seem to charge to X%, and not X miles, that would make for long time to charge. That long time also means the charger is not available to other EV, making others wait much longer.

        SparkEV is done in 20 minutes. That’s short time for the driver, and not as much waiting for other EV.

        The blog post link which has disappeared address gripe about this. If Chevy is willing to invest in high power DCFC (eg. 150kW), that would bring it back to 20 minutes. But they don’t seem to have any interest in doing so.

        1. Rob says:

          They’ll be on the Bolt II before there’s any 150kW infrastructure.

          1. SparkEV says:

            Hence, I think I’m going to skip current Bolt and wait for something better. Might become Tesla driver. 🙂

        2. taser54 says:

          You simply do not understand charging rates.

          You should stop posting about it.

          The Bolt’s battery is 3x larger than the Spark. It takes longer to fully charge because of that.

          1. SparkEV says:

            For 3X larger battery, 3X more power charger would result in same time. If Chevy made 150kW charger available (eg. at their dealers), then it’d be just as quick as SparkEV. But no such charger coming, instead Bolt gets stuck with 3 times longer time to charge.

            1. taser54 says:

              Again, you don’t know what you are posting about.

              There is nothing stopping a Bolt owner from using a DCFC to only add 80 miles. It would actually add the 80 miles faster than the Spark because the Spark’s battery would start tapering the charging rate sooner than the larger Bolt battery.

              1. SparkEV says:

                Again, you don’t seem to know what you’re replying to. People don’t use DCFC to charge to X miles; they charge to X%. Just go look at them; they don’t leave the station until they have 80% or more, not 40 miles or whatever it is they need to get home. That makes 53 minutes to charge 80% the slowest charging EV in the world.

                Compare that to Tesla with 120kW charging, 60kW would need less than half the time if it charges like SparkEV (ie, no taper to 80%). That’s my gripe; Model3 could kick Bolt’s butt when it comes to charging, a metric that’s just as important as range when it comes to mass market.

            2. Bill Howland says:

              Why would a dealer spend the money for a 150 kw charger? And the added infrastructure since most of the dealers around here dont have 150 kw for the entire joint..
              My car dealer goes against GM policy and dosesn’t even have a single L2 EVSE at any of his 11 locations. He only uses the 110 volt travel cord for testing or topping of a vehicle. He passes the savings onto me with a lower priced vehicle.

        3. bro1999 says:

          Your logic is flawed. So you also want to claim that a Spark EV can charge faster than a Tesla too?

          Using your logic, a Ford F-250 is better than a Volt because it can go 560 miles on a single tank, while a Volt can only go 430 miles.

          Let’s just ignore the fact the F-250 has a 36 gallon gas tank, compared to the Volt’s 9 gallon one. *facepalm*

          1. SparkEV says:

            People don’t drive full tank of gas empty in one session, even the 9 gallon, so gas analogy breaks down. But on EV, even for 200 miles range, people often drive to empty in one sitting.

            For 200 miles range, they may make 600 mile long trip, but 80 miles range may only take 240 miles trip. Number of DCFC sessions is the same, making shorter DCFC of 80 miles range far quicker when it’s only 20 minutes each vs 53 minutes each for 200 miles EV.

            Rest of the time, they would charge at home/work, which would be practically 10 seconds whether it’s 80 miles EV or 200 miles EV.

            Chevy is unwilling to put high power DCFC, let alone help expand existing ones so that other EV drivers don’t wait as long. I am 100% certain Chevy has the engineering talent to make higher power chargers, just not willing.

        4. Neromanceres says:

          The Spark EV has a 50KW DCFC charger option. The Bolt will be at least that fast. That means that the Bolt will at minimum match the Spark EV in range after say a 30 minute charge so I don’t get your complaint.

          Also for performance this car is pretty quick. 200hp and 266lb-ft of torque out of a 3500 lb car is very reasonable. Not sports car fast but not slow by any means. It will be on par with most V6 mid sized sedans and well ahead of any naturally aspirated 4cyl car.

        5. WopOnTour says:

          That isn’t the worlds fastest charging.lol It is simply the function of a smallish battery used in the Spark EV that’s all (19-20kWh)so of course achieving 80% is quick. Guess what? if the Spark’s battery was only 10kWh it would charge to 80% in only 10 MINUTES! Now THAT’s fast!! 😉

          1. SparkEV says:

            Not all 10kWh battery will charge in 10 minutes. Without proper design (eg. cooling), it could take longer than SparkEV.

            My point is that it doesn’t have to be so slow with Bolt if Chevy made / help deploy 150kW chargers. Tesla does 120kW, why not Chevy? Chevy doesn’t have to give it out for free, but at least they could make or help make them and they could sell it to compete against likes of ABB. No such initiative, but just apathy.

            Unfortunately, the link I post seem to disappear, but you can search greencarreports about this topic that I reference in my blog.

            From CEO Mary Barra: “We are not actively working on providing infrastructure [for the Bolt EV].”

            1. Bill Howland says:

              “We are not actively providing infrastructure”.

              I have no problem with that. Of course, a greater percentage of Bolt buyers will probably want 220 volt charging in their homes, but a minority will be satisfied with the standard travel 110 volt cord.

              I’m assuming they’ll let BOSCH take care of installations for dealers and customers who want a canned solution. They’ll sell them one of the Chinese Bosch 30 amp square white jobs.

    2. Jacked says:

      They likely had to limit the available torque to keep the weight down and meet the 200 mile range. 0-60 in 6 seconds would require a more robust and significantly heavier drivetrain.

      1. bro1999 says:

        Exactly. Look what happened to early Tesla Model S’s and drivetrain failures. Probably was a pretty expensive lesson for Tesla.

      2. SparkEV says:

        The point I make is that comparable cars of similar price have about 250HP. Even $22K car like Ford Fiesta ST has 200HP (though Ford is slow). Compare that to SparkEV which has almost 140HP, more than any car in its price range, and Bolt seems like another underperforming EV to its gas peers.

        For an EV, Bolt is great, the best bang for the buck for now. But for “mass market” (or SparkEV spoiled), not so much. Unfortunatley, link to my blog is deleted, but I dive into these points there.

        1. Stimpy says:

          I estimate about 3% of all car buyers would be able to get past the Spark’s size.

          It’s works out well for you that you’re in that 3% minority.

        2. Jacked says:

          You can’t compare HP figures between electric motors and ICEs because the torque curves are so different. We’ll see when road tests are published, but the Bolt’s actual performance in daily driving may surprise us.

        3. Benjamin says:

          That Ford Fiesta ST goes 0-60 in 6.7 seconds, seems very comparable to what the Bolt is going to do. And I expect the Bolt will be comparatively faster off the line 0-30mph.

          Sub 7 second 0-60 is solid. Certainly quick enough to be fun.

          1. SparkEV says:

            Fiesta ST is $22K car, not $30K.

            Bolt 0-30 is listed as 2.9 sec. Meanwhile, from my blog post, “VW GTI is listed as 2.2 seconds ($29.5K). Ford Focus ST is listed at 2.4 seconds ($31K).” I wish they didn’t delete the link to my blog post so I don’t have to repeat myself in forum.

            Again, you can refer to my blog post about other details like 0-60 comparisons. Bolt may not be bad in what matters (ie, not the bottom of the pack in 5-60), but not the very best, either, which was my expectation based on SparkEV.

  12. Texas FFE says:

    I thought this car was designed with autonomous ride sharing in mind, how is it ever going to do autonomous without ACC?

  13. Josh says:

    I don’t understand why the Bolt would need a blended brake pedal for ACC. Tesla doesn’t seem to have a problem doing it.

    Does it mean there is no electro-mechanical activation of the brakes?

  14. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    Some very positive things here. Well done, GM!

    Nice to see the driver can select between minimal regen and strong regen.

    Speaking as someone who prefers manual shifting to automatic transmission in gasmobiles, I’m not pleased to see that GM doesn’t allow you to choose “creep” or “no creep” as an independent choice, but at least you can change it by shifting from “Drive” to “Low”.

    The latter is a minor point, though. I consider creep to be annoying, but it certainly wouldn’t be a deal-breaker.

    On the negative side, the inability of the Bolt to take advantage of future, higher kW chargers is going to make this 1st generation Bolt look old within a very few years. You can be sure other 200+ mile BEVs will be built to take advantage of faster charging. GM really dropped the ball there. That probably won’t impact sales, but surely will have a negative effect on resale value.

    * * * * *

    Thanks to bro1999 and Jay Cole, in comments above, for making it clear that the oft-cited figure of GM capping Bolt production at 30,000 per year is only for the initial production, and that GM says it can ramp up to 50k per year.

    Thanks also to Jay for letting us know that GM already plans to sell the Bolt in Europe. That gives me more confidence that GM won’t artificially cap production, and also more confidence in the Bolt’s ability to compete with the Leaf and other BEVs on the international market.

    Go GM!

    1. MTN Ranger says:

      The big issue is that there is no standard yet for greater than 100kW charging on CCS. It may take a couple years until we see that. Frankly, GM should have at least made sure it supports 90-100kW charging since that is at least possible right now.

  15. Texas FFE says:

    I can’t believe people are complaining about 50kW chargers. Most of country doesn’t even have non-Tesla 50kW chargers much less 100+kW chargers. By the time we start to get a decent network of 100+kW chargers all these new Bolts will probably be old and ready for the scrap heap.

    Speaking as someone who has driven cross country in an EV, even a decent network of commercially available 24 hour L2 chargers would be a huge improvement. Has everyone forgotten how bad our EV charging network is? There is not a single 100+kW charger in America and a 50kW charger is still nine times faster than an L2 charger.

    1. Jacked says:

      Well said. I’d be happy to see just one L2 charger on any of the normal routes I drive here in MI. Currently there is nothing.

    2. jelloslug says:

      The point is that now with another car that can only handle 50kw what is the incentive for anyone to put in anything with more capacity? Combine that with what is almost a “long range” car, the 50kw changing speed is really too slow to be used mid trip.

      1. SparkEV says:

        Well said. 120kW+ is what’s needed for mass market EV, and I have a feeling Tesla will dominate. I’m sure as heck not going to get an EV that needs 50+ minutes for 160 miles range (80% of 200 miles) when another can acheive that in less than half the time.

    3. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Texas FFE said:

      “I can’t believe people are complaining about 50kW chargers. Most of country doesn’t even have non-Tesla 50kW chargers much less 100+kW chargers. By the time we start to get a decent network of 100+kW chargers all these new Bolts will probably be old and ready for the scrap heap.”

      As I recall, the average American keeps a car for about 7 years before trading it in on a new one. With BEVs, that average may be even longer, because the motors don’t wear out like gas engines do.

      Do you really think that 7 years from now, or maybe even 8 or 9 years from now, there won’t be (non-Tesla) public fast-chargers that charge at better than a 50 kWh rate?

      I think we can be entirely sure that they will appear before that. We can also be sure that Tesla, if not other BEV makers, will make their 200+ mile BEVs to accept charging at a rate higher than 50 kW.

      Note that the Tesla Model S60 (the 60 kWh version) can charge at a rate of 102 kW, at least according to the discussion linked below:


      1. Texas FFE says:

        There’s been L2 cars around for at least five years and we still don’t have a very good L2 network. We are just now starting to get 50kW chargers installed and it will take probably five more years to get a half way decent 50kW charger network. In five years we might start seeing a few 100+kW chargers and in another five we might start to see a usable 100+kW network.

        So it would probably be ten years before a non-Tesla 100+kW charging network would compel me to upgrade to a 100+kW charging car. If I bought a Bolt this year, in ten years it would be ready to retire or upgrade to a faster charging system.

        1. mr. M says:

          The businesscase is better with a market share of 1% instead of 0.5% so charger deployment rate will increase too.

      2. Daniel says:

        Well let’s not forget, The Level II standard can support up to 80 amps. But I don’t see many BEV’s that can utilize it, Nor any Public level II locations that will supply 80 amps?? Most top out at 7.2Kw @ 30 amps.

    4. Benjamin says:

      There are a ton of 100+kw chargers out there: every Supercharger, right? Tesla claims 120kw, but I’ve seen reports that many of them actually operate up to 135kw.

      1. Texas FFE says:

        So go buy a $100,000 Tesla. That’s $70,000 more than a $30,000 Bolt. Is being able to charge at 125kW as opposed to 50kW really worth $70,000 to you?

        1. Benjamin says:

          That’s not the point. I’m not in the market for either a $30k car or a $70k car. $12k used Leaf or Volt is more like it for me.

          The point was to correct a factual error about the presence of a 120+kw national charging network, which Tesla has in place as we speak. It will be a big advantage for Model 3 against the Bolt and other coming 200+ mile range cars including the Leaf.

        2. Benjamin says:

          And if I were considering buying a $30k Bolt, I would definitely consider buying a used Model S instead. Here is a SWEET Model S 60 with Supercharging and a ton of high end options for $48,100. https://www.teslamotors.com/models/preowned/p16122

          A year from now when the Bolt is actually selling, the price on used Tesla Model S 60s will be coming down more.

          1. Stimpy says:

            Most EV owners are leasing and getting fantastic deals far less than the MSRP would indicate. The tech is improving too quickly at present to purchase.

  16. Zoomit says:

    My Chevy dealer keeps reminding me to take my Spark EV in for an oil change.

    1. kdawg says:

      You should do it and see what happens.

      1. Jacked says:

        LOL, that would be awesome. He should take someone with him to get video.

  17. kdawg says:

    “‘You know guys, this is stupid. It feels like were making the one pedal driving be kinda acceptable for the people that don’t like it, and kinda acceptable for the people that do. Why are we doing this halfway? If they don’t like it, they have drive (mode), the i3 for instance, doesn’t have a drive mode with light decel. So if they don’t like regen, go to drive. If they want it, give it to them (low mode with heavy regen).’ So now we’re at a spot where I can drive home and never touch the brake pedal.”

    Thank you Josh. Those of us who 1-pedal drive our Volts will appreciate this.

    1. Stimpy says:

      I agree, but it seems they only went about 80% towards solving one-pedal driving. Instead they choose one-pedal + odd steering wheel paddle.

      Why not put max regen on 100% of the time when in Low? What is the advantage of requiring a paddle on top of that?

      1. kdawg says:

        I believe the paddle + low = super-regen. In L, you can still 1 peddle drive just fine without using the paddle, even come to a complete stop. The paddle just adds even more regen.

        1. kdawg says:

          LOL, peddle = pedal

          1. MikeM says:

            kdawg, the paddle peddler!

        2. Stimpy says:

          I really hope that’s the case and if so, I am ok with it.

        3. Correct, kdawg. In Low mode, the regen is strong enough to bring the vehicle to a complete stop on its own. By pulling and holding the paddle it will increase the regen strength, though.

          The strongest level of regen is having the car in Low and holding the paddle. The second strongest would be to just have the vehicle in Low. The third strongest is having it in Drive and holding the paddle, and the lowest level of regen is simply driving in the standard Drive mode.

  18. Alan says:

    The regen paddles are really useful, my Outlander PHEV has them and you can virtually drive the car with hardly any use of the brake pedal. It has 5 settings from 0-5 with zero just letting the two ton vehicle roll for miles and five slowing the car to virtually a standstill fairly quickly.

    1. Phil T says:

      I think there is a misunderstanding about how the GM regen paddles work. Someone with better info than mine, please chime in if I’m wrong (I have briefly driven a 2016 Volt with this feature.) My understanding is that the driver must HOLD DOWN the paddle (really just a huge button) on the back of the steering wheel in order to invoke added regen (not talking about the shifter’s L setting here) meaning that if you let go of the paddle, the regen diminishes again. I don’t think that it’s a toggle like you’d find on the Mitsu PHEV or the toggle shifter on a Golf EV.
      I appreciate having the adjustable regen settings, but I’m not thrilled about the idea of needing to hold a big button on the back of the steering wheel with one hand while I’m driving. If GM made it work like an on-off toggle, that’d beach better, IMO.

      1. Stimpy says:


      2. Alan says:

        Hi Phil,

        On the Mitsubishi, you just touch the paddle once and it moves and stays at the next level (either up or down) so that you don’t have to keep anything depressed whilst continuing to drive, making it very easy to use, you can flick through them very quickly.

        1. Alan says:

          I should mention if you engage the cruise control it defaults to level two and you would need to flick through as required.

          1. kdawg says:

            The paddles on the ELR, Gen2 Volt, and Bolt are regen-on-demand. So you are not locked into any mode, just hold it as you want it.

            I wish they had a sport-on-demand paddle too. I don’t want to commit to changing to sport mode, just want a burst momentarily for a particular situation.

      3. Bill Howland says:

        Yeah Phil T:

        Regen on my original Tesla Roadster was a bit more than on any other car I’ve Test Driven, and was much more than the S on its most aggressive setting, which I found odd about the “S”.

        In general, I find my ELR’s ‘regen on demand’ a bit silly, since I find myself constantly flipping between D and L on the ‘Gear Selector’, and then having to move to the steering wheel paddles besides do trivial things like drive the car.

        I love the basic car, but that CUE system in my opinion (which apparently exists on many other Cadillac Models) is a joke. It is far too time-consuming to perform the simplest functions, which is why I’m perplexed at why others here like the thing. These bugaboos show the GM arrogance which has existed in every GM car I’ve had recently, only its the worst in ELR:

        1). You lose control when backing up, not even being able to silence the radio.

        2). The car insists on running the engine when under 33 degrees fahrenheit, which is hot around here during the wintertime, so I try to use the volt mainly around these temperatures since the engine there won’t start until 27 degrees. But interestingly, the ELR doesn’t charge the battery as much as the volt, so in a weird sense you are driving more electrically in the ELR than the Volt under these conditions. But Heaven Forbid they let ME decide when I want to run the engine or not, after all, I just paid for the thing.

        They have 2 paddles, but they’re just wired in parallel. NO change in amount of regen, which is about right, although there is too much sluggishness in the ‘attack’, for instance when you want to brake quickly it wastes valuable time. But then the other steering wheel controls are sluggish. Volume Up/Dn seems to work on the ‘Inertial Aggrandizement’ principle. The volume goes up faster depending on how much the volume has already gone up, instead of a simple fixed rate. The amount of time the car ‘wastes’ gets annoying. When I start the car I don’t want to wait forever to check the things I want to check.

        As implied before it would have been much easier to simply allow me to select the amount of Regen I want all the time, by having a D-L3-L2-L1 on the shift lever, since if their going to have that huge thing between the 2 seats they might as well have it do something, and it really makes no sense to flip the function from between the seats to the side of the steering wheel. But their marketing dept has essentially ‘sold’ new volt owners on the concept, so they could have both.

  19. Michael Parker says:

    To hear that the Bolt won’t even have options for tech toys such as “adaptive cruise control, lane departure assist, self parking, automatic braking or any autonomous driving features” reinforces my belief that it is nothing more than an expensive electric economy hatchback.
    Almost any car in the $30,000 price range at least has the option for such tech.
    Even cars that with an effective MSRP $10,000 less have the option for some of said tech (VW Golf, Toyota Camry, etc).
    Even more disappointing would be the short-sighted decision to limit DCFC to 50kWh. Better to futureproof the car than to cripple it right out the gates.

    1. Alan says:

      I doubt there will be any meaningful production for 12 months so there is still time to change a few things ?

      1. MTN Ranger says:

        GM always adds more features in the subsequent model years; it gives people a reason to upgrade. Even the Model S was missing quite a few “luxury” items when it was introduced.

        1. Chops says:

          I wish that were always true. Sometimes they drop features during later model years. = “de-contenting”. They did it to the Volt and other GM models. Something about squeezing more profit out. But, I don’t get the logic myself. In any case, GM always keeps you guessing about the future.

    2. ffbj says:

      MP said: ” it is nothing more than an expensive electric economy hatchback.”
      Yeah. I get your drift.

      1. kdawg says:

        Yeah, I disregard “constructive” criticism from posters who uses phrases like “nothing more than a”… or “just an econobox”

        1. Michael Parker says:

          You can disregard my comments all you want – but it doesn’t take away from the fact that it is pretty clear GM had to make many compromises to come in at their target Range/Price combination.
          Which is fine. But let’s not pretend this car is without faults.

          1. Breezy says:

            Of course the Bolt has faults. The Model 3 will have faults, too.

            1. Michael Parker says:

              Oh I’m sure it will. And I will be happy to point them out as well when we learn more about it in March (hopefully).
              I personally hope it is more of a value proposition against similarly priced ICE competitors, and if it’s not, then it deserves just as much criticism for not delivering on the ‘mass-market’ EV hype it has received like the Bolt.
              My point being; the Bolt seems like a GREAT EV, but merely a DECENT CAR. I hope that makes sense.

              1. kdawg says:

                It sounds like you are calling lack of a couple options, a “fault”, and then jumping to a conclusion that the Bolt is therefor just a cheap EV that GM cut corners on. This disregards all of the other technology that IS packed into the Bolt, including the largest screen in any GM car, birds-eye view, Apple Carplay, and the only one that has a camera for a rear-view mirror. There’s much more I could list, but you get the point. It sounds like they just hit a nerve w/you on the options it doesn’t have. There are other safety features available, such as Forward Pedestrian Alert, Forward Collision Alert, Side Blind Zone Alert, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. Mary Barra also alluded to OTA updates, though didn’t come right out and say it. That may open the door for some of the autonomy you desire. The Bolt was designed with autonomy in mind, as they signed up w/Lyft and are looking at fleets of autonomous EVs.

                1. Josh says:

                  “The Bolt was designed with autonomy in mind” is a bit of a marketing wishful thinking.

                  There is nothing on the Bolt that would enable any kind of self driving feature. Sensors and systems could be added to the next generation of any EV or ICE to give it some self driving capability.

                  1. kdawg says:

                    Incorrect. Here’s one example saying otherwise. The sensors are there, who knows about the software. And if they do OTA updates…

                    “According to GM’s website, the Bolt EV will also boast some semi-autonomous features, including automatic park-and-retrieval technology. Owners will be able to exit the vehicle and use the Bolt EV app to tell the car to park itself and to retrieve the car for pick-up.”


    3. John Gallagher says:

      I think you are strange your thought process is just off in my opinion, this is a car for the rest of the world the people who will never read a EV blog and they dont care about self driving gadgets. The Bolt competition is the Leaf the E golf with half the range give the GM engineers some credit

      1. Michael Parker says:

        If the Bolt’s main competition is the Leaf and eGolf, then no, it is not “for the rest of the world the people who will never read a EV blog”.
        I thought the idea of the Bolt was to attract new buyers to the EV world, not simply appeal to people already shopping EVs. In order to get new people into the EV market the car needs to compete with similarly priced ICE vehicles. Otherwise it will remain a niche product that is mostly bought by current EV drivers.

        1. Jay Cole says:

          “…(EVs) for rest of the world the people who will never read a EV blog”

          Just to touch on this, I think there is a misconception that new EVs have to reach the “general population” over those just on sites such as InsideEVs. While ~95% of the people who are participating in discussion section here about the topic at hand are EV owners, this taints the prospective. The vast, vast majority of readers are not – it is more like 2% of the readers have an EV…it takes a certain level of confidence to wade into these discussion, or they are casual readers.

          But I would suggest a huge majority of EV sales made last month (or next year, or 3 years from now) didn’t wander into a dealer looking for a car and come away with a plug-in…they learned/research fairly deeply online, and for a long time before they decided to purchase.

          I think buying an EV is like buying a smart phone or other tech device, there is a lot of research/learning that happens ahead of the purchase. For those (mostly) older/non-savvy to the tech, they will just never opt for a plug-in, it isn’t in them – fortunately the car buying population exchanges old drivers for new close to 2% per year, so it is solving itself.

          So, we don’t really need to teach the masses that aren’t aware, there are millions and millions of fence sitter right here, right now alone. Ann all of those fence sitters that haven’t owned a plug-in yet, have not done so for a reason.

          The two big reasons are the tech hasn’t evolved enough for a plug-in to fit their driving requirements, and the used price of a plug-in has yet to fall into the sweet spot – both of these issues should be greatly advanced by the arrival of the ‘second gen’ EVs.

          Random add-on in reference to that potential pool of plug-in buyers vs actual owners:

          While the US has sold ~410,000 odd plug-ins so far, the product has been a premium one (for the most part) to date, sold to a very discerning base – with a lot of disposable income…meaning of those ~410,000 sales, the actual number of persons who have bought a new EV is more like 150,000 at best.

          Ask anyone of the ~72,000 made sales in 2012 or earlier in the US, odds are they have owned more than just one…for myself as an example (which isn’t a great indicator to be sure), I am on number 8 (or 9, it’s getting cloudy now). I think you would find most people who have owned an EV for more than 3 years, have owned more than 1.

          1. Michael Parker says:

            Thanks for the thoughtful reply, Jay. Those are some interesting numbers to ponder for sure!

            1. Jay Cole says:

              Yes, it was too wordy to just say, I think the pool considering/researching EVs is already very large, lol.

              Long story short, more long range BEV options like the Bolt, and more diverse offerings (outside small cars), like the Outlander PHEV, Pacifica Hybrid, Model X, etc., and the legion of other ‘soon to be announced’ 2nd gen projects … and all those new vehicles affect on gen 1 residuals, should be able to mobilize a decent portion of this pretty large base (and growing fast) all on there own

              And while that wave engages starting this year, a new, even broader/deeper wave will start on the same journey of discovery…at least that is the hope.

              1. Djoni says:

                Right on, no doubt!
                Purist are only small portion.
                Interesting but small.

          2. Matt A. says:

            I would argue that there are a lot more than 5 percent that follow EV sites regularly and don’t have any skin in the game yet. I’ve been following EV sites since the pre Tesla roadster, but patiently waiting for something more practical for my demographic. First of all I have 3 kids and live in the midwest, so the only thing that came close to interesting me was the RAV4 which wasn’t available in my area. Secondly I’m 6 foot 6 which probably made the rav4 option a non-starter. I think a lot of folks with big families have been waiting on the sidelines for a long while and the chrysler van will be their first chance to take a dip in the market, but I would envision the cost of that being around 40K so many of us folks will continue to wait for better options.

            1. Jay Cole says:

              I think we are on exactly the same page, you just took what I wrote to mean something other than it did.

              I was saying that it seems like most own a EV when you come to a site such as InsideEVs, because the vast majority of people who comment/participate in the discussion here do currently own a plug-in…but of the people who actually read and research about plug-ins at InsideEVs, it is only like a 2% ownership rate overallmaybe less.

              …you are more likely to weight in on something like the preferred regen mode/paddle system of a new EV if you have actually owned/driven an EV before…or three

              So, we are really saying the same thing – there is a legion of persons out there (like yourself), just waiting on the tech (and/or the platforms/pricing) to expand to accommodate them.

          3. Chris says:

            Jay liked your response kind of describes me I have been reading about EV’s for many years I would guess at least 8 years. I just bought my first a used 2013 Volt as a single guy with only one car a Volt works for me (love it). But the Bolt could work as a single car but in a perfect world maybe keep the Volt and add a Bolt. That allows longer road trips with a hang glider on the roof (my other passion). I do think the other big isssue is charging for apartment /condo residents. At times I think I should go to the local Chevy dealer and offer to work part time as a Bolt/Volt sales expert! Keep up the good work

  20. HVACman says:

    As the Gen 1 and Gen 2 Volts evolved, Volt Chief engineer Andrew Farah was my hero – quiet and soft-spoken but fiercely-focused to make GM’s “moonshot” a success. He succeeded beyond my wildest dreams. I wondered if GM could find anyone to match his balanced and focused design approach for future EV’s. The answer is “yes”. You have to be a heck of an engineer for GM top-brass to be entrusted as chief engineer for GM’s “moonshot II” – the Bolt project – and it sounds like they made the right choice.

    Josh, well-done.

  21. Kosh says:

    woah… “(all the exterior body panels are aluminum).”

    Srsly? the skin? Or do they mean interior panels? Did nobody learn from the original Shelby AC Cobras ?

    1. Mike says:

      This isn’t 1965 anymore. A number of cars have aluminum body panels. 1st gen Volt had an aluminum hood. Tesla Model S is all aluminum.

      1. kdawg says:

        & Ford trucks are aluminum

      2. alohart says:

        Our 2000 Honda Insight’s body and chassis are all aluminum except for its front fenders and rear fender skirts which are thermoplastic. The aluminum skin seems as tough as steel but doesn’t destructively oxidize as does the steel used in most cars. Aluminum oxide is a protective oxide (e.g., anodized aluminum). So I applaud Chevy’s choice of an aluminum skin for the Bolt.

  22. scott franco says:

    Excellent article.

    The battery arrangement of the bolt makes more sense each time I look at it. I think you are going to see more cars emulating it.

    The weight of the Tesla is now not so outrageous. The bolt gets near 4,000 lbs.

    Finally, the charge kW is the big issue with the Bolt. Here is a car with more than twice the range of my Spark, but the same charge time. The Tesla will have a permanent advantage there.

    I understand why they limited it to 50kW, GM didn’t think they would see CCS chargers improve at any timely rate. But here, again, is why I will lease a Bolt but buy a Tesla.

    1. kdawg says:

      Nothing is permanent, and from the video, GM hasn’t made a final decision yet on the charging rate. 50kW was the MIN they would do.

    2. Thanks Scott. As I wrote, they haven’t made a final decision on the upper limits of the DCQC charge rate, but it did sound like it will probably launch at 50kW. Tavel was definitely cognizant of the need to up that once there are stations that can deliver more than 50kW, and I do think that is what will happen. Unfortunately the original Bolt owners will get stuck at 50kW.

      1. Taser54 says:

        Tom, I don’t know if I agree with you that original Bolt owners will be stuck at 50KW DCFC. Nothing prevents GM from opening the charging level up as say 100KW DCFC becomes available. It would be a software update as the hardware is already validated for that power level.

    3. Neromanceres says:

      Curb weight is 3580lbs. Much less than 4000lbs.

      1. MTN Ranger says:

        The Model S 60 weighs 4,323 lbs; so the Bolt is 743 lbs lighter.

      2. alohart says:

        That’s still a whopping 1000 lbs. more than an i3 BEV which would make the Bolt unsuitable for us. We don’t need to drag around a heavy battery pack just so that we have a 200 mile range that we would never need. But many people seem to want that much range, so they’ll be penalized whenever they drive the Bolt around town (less efficient, less nimble). Unfortunately, battery cells are still heavy. It’s too bad that one can’t “park” part of the battery pack when driving around town with the ability to reconnect it when full range is needed.

  23. Philip d says:

    “No. Adaptive cruise control – no, you would need the blended brakes to do that and we didn’t want to do that with this car.”

    ?? Please elaborate. Give us an engineering reason other than “we didn’t want to”. If you don’t have blended braking then you are going to waste a lot of energy and add more wear to your physical friction brakes even with pretty good regen.

    And even if it was decided to not have blended braking why does this preclude having ACC? Lots of ICE cars with regular brakes have ACC. The computer can simply use regen to make minor adjustments while cruising and then switch to friction brakes for harder braking. What am I missing here?

    1. kdawg says:

      Not really. With 1 pedal driving, you can go w/out even touching the brake pedal, thus no friction and no wasted energy. Not sure what you drive or how you drive it, but I pretty much do this now with my Volt in L. That is with a less aggressive regen and no regen paddle too.

  24. Michael Parker says:

    I’m also a bit at odds with their ‘Drive Mode’ decisions.
    If I am understanding this correctly, if the driver leaves the car in ‘Drive’ mode, very little regen will happen unless the paddle is grabbed. This means the car is more or less driven like a traditional car using friction brakes most of the time, unless the driver learns to drive using the paddle. This will inevitably lead to significant decreases in range.
    I am only guessing here, but most ‘average’ car buyers won’t bother switching drive modes, and won’t bother learning a new driving style regardless of whether it is ‘one-peddle driving’ or ‘braking-with-a-paddle driving’, unless forced to.
    If they wanted to retain driving characteristics of traditional vehicles, why didn’t they simply opt for a blended brake peddle (much like a Prius)? It seems to me when this vehicle is finally shipped, we will see plenty of complaints that range is significantly lower than advertised because people will simply drive it like a normal car in ‘Drive’ mode.

    1. Stimpy says:

      You are definitely right that the Power Of Defaults has a large effect on how something is used.

      We are still largely in a transitional phase from the old ICE world to the new EV world.

      As an example, remember how grudgingly some people took to phones without a hardware keyboard? Now look around…

    2. CopperRoad says:

      All EV owners were once ‘average’ car buyers, and they’ve become used to various regen setups. If it’s similar to the Spark EV’s Low mode — that will be pretty substantial on it’s own — without using pedals. So, you have options. Keep it in Drive. Put it in Low. Use Pedals, don’t use pedals. Don’t see an issue.

  25. David S. says:

    “No. Adaptive cruise control – no, you would need the blended brakes to do that and we didn’t want to do that with this car.”

    Does that mean there will be no regen when you press on the brake pedal (no blended mode)? That would be silly

    I had hoped that the paddles would allow for more regen levels – from none (coasting) to heavy regen in increments. And a way to turn off the creep…

    It looks like the Drive and Low modes are some compromises…that’s disappointing

    1. No it doesn’t. Tavel told me the first half inch of brake pedal travel is exclusively regen braking.

      1. Ambulator says:

        Oh, that’s a relief. I thought that was called blended braking.

      2. Josh says:

        Ok, I guess I misunderstood the statement.

        I guess they don’t like the way everyone else (including Volt) does ACC.

        BTW, I can’t stand the mushy brake pedals. I was happy when he said no blended-brake. Now I will go back to being disappointed.

      3. danwat1234 says:

        But that would mean it does have blended braking…… or ok, so just pure regen on the brake pedal and then friction after that. Argh ok like the Volt and most other EVs. Except when you hit the friction brake area of the brake pedal, the regen stops? stupid

    2. Chops says:

      I took his comments to mean that they did not want the blended brakes to do the slowing down while in ACC. Not that it didn’t have regen while braking (= blended brakes).

      Now why they did not want to do ACC when other companies do it with blended brakes I don’t know….cost? time?

  26. JP White says:

    “f you like strong regen and use low mode, or stop with using the Regan on Demand paddle, the artificial creep is disengaged.”

    Hooray!! A car company that understands its drivers. I see no reason for creep in an EV, this makes this vehicle’s drive system very attractive.

    For those who like the status quo, you can have creep. Creeps.

  27. Matthias Amrein says:

    I really enjoy the factual, no BS style of communication of Chief Engineer Josh Tavel! way to go Sir!

  28. ModernMarvelFan says:

    Thanks Tom!

    YOu did it again!

    YOu have given us some more information on this highly anticipated release. I like some of the “side bar” information on Ghosn’s reaction or the DCFC information or the information that traditional BEV buyers would care.

    1. Tom Moloughney says:

      Thanks MMF. It helps when you are really interested in the subject matter and are a bit knowledgeable about what you’re talking about.

      I think the people I interview recognize my enthusiasm and open up a little more than they do with some other journalists. Plus, living with EVs for seven years has helped me to really know what to ask.

  29. Huffster says:

    Learned some info I was wondering about, so thank you for the write up. I was hoping for Adaptive Cruise Control, but I’m still excited about this car. I hope GM has DCFC as a standard feature and not an option on the Bolt. One thing I disliked about searching for a used Nissan Leaf vehicle is the research nessesary to find out if it has DCFC. Well, I guess nowthe next thing to wait for is Tesla’s Model 3 announcement at the end of March.

  30. Brian Anderson says:

    Everything I had read up till now had me planning to replace the i3 on 2 year lease I’m driving now with a Bolt. In this article, the interviewer did a good job ferreting out the Bolt weaknesses from the chief engineer and the Tesla 3 is back in the running. Cars made from steel?!? How primitive and impractical in the frozen north where roads are made safe with salt for 5 months of the year. (Unfortunately, the Tesla will probably also have this.) Artificial Creep? Who uses the left pedal any more?!? Josh’s quotes speak volumes about a company needing to cater to the status quo, even as it tries to usher in the future. Well, if that’s what it takes to drive EV adoption, I’m all for it. I just wish my fellow humans were a little less afraid to adapt and try new things.

  31. Brian Anderson says:

    Read more comments on blended brakes. Still not sure what “blended brakes are, but can note that i3 has full time accel pedal regen and brake regen with excellent pedal feel. Driving is utterly intuitive as my 15 year old daughter learning to drive can attest. It is a classic failure of old-school corporate marketing and big-old-corp risk aversion to infirmly grasp the obvious, straightforward, elegant solution presented by the technology.

  32. Fabian says:

    Even the Prius level-5 has adapted cruise control the 2nd gen volt has it. I was really hoping this feature would be in the car. Great job on the car General Motors, but I’m feeling a little disappointed because of that missing feature.

  33. danwat1234 says:

    Can’t do adaptive cruise control unless you have blended brakes???
    It can clearly do regen automatically but they chose not to do that with cruise control?
    Blended, as in the car can’t activate the friction brakes on it’s own in case harder braking is needed or the traction control system freaks out from a bump or real loss of traction and regen is disabled.

    I like to modulate regen with the brake pedal. Oh well, guess it’ll be in L with accelerator pedal

  34. Albemarle says:

    Excellent interview. This car is worth the wait for us.

    Features on cars are decided at the marketing, cost accounting and executive level.

    It’s the engineers that enthusiastically promote the bells and whistles.

    If management had wanted ACC, the Bolt would have it. It was a costing and positioning decision.

  35. Chris B says:

    With regard to the “missing” features (i.e. lane assist, ACC, etc.) I would suspect that if those aren’t there at launch, they will be introduced in subsequent model years. Heck, the Volt just launched w/o ACC and will get it here in a few weeks with the early “2017” model introduction. The exclusion from the Volt for 2016 suggests they were working on this right up until the last minute and just didn’t make the cut. As a side note, it won’t be cheap at $1200….and even that is less than half what autopilot costs on the Model S. It is a pricey option (ACC) that may be little more than a novelty for many buyers.

    Car maker’s introduce new features all the time in subsequent model years as a way to entice folks to “get the new model” or keep up with the competition. 201 to 1 we see these features in the “second” model year for the Bolt.

  36. Allen Fisher says:

    I still haven’t read an important detail about the Bolt: What type of heater will it have? My electric Focus has a range of only 40 miles on the coldest days with the heater on. The Leaf does better with a heat pump, and Tesla does better yet with their heat system. Will the Bolt travel only 100 miles on cold days, or did GM do it right?

  37. Phr3d says:

    Dear GM – add my vote to ACC as an option, please change your mind. Thanks!

  38. Djoni says:

    The platform cutaway show a front pretty much fill up with lot of wire, boxe, hose, container and suff that look as crowded as an ICE!
    Were is the simplicity of electric motoring in that design?

    1. Bill Howland says:

      Well, they can’t combine the PWM drive with the charging function because they’d be sued unlike Renault with Patent Infringement.

      Other things such as the Pseudo-Alternator, Low-voltage battery, Power Steering, Brakes, windshield wipers and washers, air-conditioning/heating/cooling for the cabin and battery chilled water systems are going to take up the occassional wire, hose, condensor, compressor, Accumulator, Drier, etc.

      People still want all their modern conveniences. I’m glad they left off the Stock Broker’s extra screen that the new VW BULL-E has that tells me the temperature in my refrigerator.

  39. Samiup says:

    Really GM? a gear sifter on an all electric car?

    This reminds me when all cell phone hardware manufacturers were trying to catch up with the first gen iPhone and they could not get it right for 2-3 years…
    only after they understood that if they have to go then they have to go all the way, or not at all, nobody wants a half solution with a button keyboard and a half finished LCD, people wanted ALL touch screen software driven, LARGE screen phone…

    Coming back to cars, people want Teslas, not Nissan leafs, for a reason. OK?
    they want EVs which are made from the ground up to be pure EVs, people sure want to save on gas and be green, but they mostly want to see no stupid mechanical parts and gears anywhere.
    enough of that, that stuff breaks, a lot and costs money. so stop.
    Why does the Bolt has that much stuff at the front? what is all that? i thought the whole electric engine is about the size of a watermelon…