Two days ago, my wife decided to trade in her 2019 Chevrolet Bolt EV for a 2022 Bolt EUV. Over this process I have come to realize a few things and wanted to write an article about it. This isn’t a review of the car exactly, rather a look at where GM is with this vehicle and what its intentions are.
First and foremost, I hate GM’s marketing department for naming this vehicle. If it wasn’t bad enough that they had the Volt and the Bolt, which has been extremely confusing for most consumers. And now they add a 3rd vehicle that is also called a Bolt. I honestly wish they had called the vehicle something completely different, or discontinued the regular Bolt EV. This naming convention is going to be a nightmare going forward.
That being said, how do I feel this vehicle stands up against GMs previous offerings? As a recap, the first-generation Volt was pretty expensive and it had mediocre specs, a terribly designed infotainment system, and seemed to lack some common equipment most cars had such as power seats. From a consumer perspective, I doubt there were many potential converts when average customers walked onto a dealer lot and saw one, and then saw the price tag. It was most definitely a car for EV enthusiasts and environmentalists.
The second generation Volt made great improvements in technology, user-friendliness, it was faster, went further, got better fuel economy, and cost less. Unfortunately, as we all know the Volt was never going to be a mass-market car because it cost too much to build and would never be able to compete with vehicles like the Cruze, which was about half the price.
Then enter the Bolt EV. Confusingly named, it was a very capable long-range BEV. In fact, at the time it came out it was considered the first affordable long-range EV, beating Tesla to the market by several months. The Bolt EV was pretty fast, most likely being limited by the traction of the front tires for 0-60 times. And with 238 miles of range, it was enough to actually consider embarking on regional road trips. It would be another couple of years before a charging network would emerge allowing cross-country road trips.
Unfortunately, the Bolt EV was still not quite a mass-market vehicle. The external appearance is considered frumpy by most people, while maybe not as bad as the first-generation Leaf. People also complained a lot about the interior feeling cheap, and more importantly the seats being uncomfortable. Since we owned a 2019 Bolt, I can attest to the seat problem. I honestly can’t believe GM didn’t replace the seats within a year of releasing this vehicle. And then there was the high price tag. Granted, in the last years, the discounts made it more affordable than most people realized. But the MSRP would still scare most shoppers away.
And now here we are with the Bolt EUV. The body style is more attractive to most people. There is more room in the rear seats and cargo area (don’t be fooled by the official numbers on cargo space). The range is better than our 2019 Bolt at 247 miles, and performance is about the same.
The EUV's seats are much more comfortable, and the interior no longer feels cheap. It is well equipped with things that were never available before like power seats, ventilated seats, adaptive cruise control, wireless Apple CarPlay, auto-braking, wireless phone charging, etc. These are all things people moaned about not having on the original Bolt. And top it off, it is cheaper!
Let’s talk about price for a moment. Starting at $33,000, it may sound more expensive than a similar-sized vehicle like a Trailblazer. But, I just went and configured a Trailblazer on Chevrolet’s website and added in most of the equipment that is standard on the Bolt EUV and came up with a price of $29,000. Which means the Bolt EUV is only slightly more expensive than a similarly equipped gasoline car. Obviously factoring in fuel and maintenance will easily tip the scales in favor of the Bolt.
So, I’ve said all of that to say this. When I drive the Bolt EUV I really feel that this is more than just a compliance car, or a halo car, or a car for treehuggers. It feels like a car that could sell big volumes if GM is serious about it. For your average family, this car is a much better value than a lot of similar vehicles in the same price range, such as Lexus or Acura SUVs. And as an EV, it is more or less no-compromise. Meaning, a typical American family could buy this vehicle and (assuming they have a place to charge it) never have to worry about range, speed, performance, or comfort.
So, the question is, will GM and its dealer network actually sell this car in high volumes? Assuming GM actually makes a profit on this vehicle, I see no reason why they won’t build these in higher volumes and expect sales much higher than their previous EVs.
I know there has been some complaints about the CCS charging speed, at 50 KW. I do agree that is now considered a bit old-fashioned. It would be analogous to buying a brand new computer that only ships with USB 2.0 ports.
In fact, we’re planning to take the car on a trip from Dallas to Houston this weekend. We’ve made similar trips in the previous Bolt EV without problems, so I don’t expect any on this trip. But we only need to make one stop on the trip for charging. We’ll probably eat dinner while charging, and continue on our way, just like before.
So, for a regional trip that requires only one charging stop, I don’t feel the car is particularly handicapped. However, if I were trying to drive from Dallas to Los Angeles in this car, I’d probably get annoyed at the charging speed. That being said, I don’t feel this a deal-breaker for the average shopper, especially considering the price tag.