General Motors reminds us that its EV engineers continue with top-notch innovation 45 years after they helped develop the electric Lunar Rover.
2017 Bolt EV alongside a view of the Apollo 17 Lunar Rover Vehicle at Sample 8135, taken during Extravehicular Activity EVA 3. (Image and Caption Credit: Chevrolet)
Way back in 1971, the $38 million electric Lunar Rover (built in partnership with GM) allowed Apollo 15 astronauts the opportunity to explore the moon.
Little do many know that GM had its hands in the development, design, and testing of the first Lunar Rover. The fact that it was an EV is the icing on the cake. The automaker worked alongside partner companies to create a brand-new electric motor drive system, suspension, and mesh wire wheels, along with a special drive controller to work with lunar gloves. GM writes:
"The same innovative spirit that drove the company to engineer an electric vehicle for the moon lives on in the Bolt EV. Except today’s EV drivers don’t have to wear space suits."
The engineers, led by Ferenc Pavlics, had to work through the challenges of designing for space travel and assisting astronauts, which paved the way for the company's future EV pursuits. In a sense, the Chevrolet Bolt EV is the grandchild to the original electric Lunar Rover Vehicle. Pavlics, now retired, recounts the time:
Side-by-side comparison of the 1971 Lunar Rover and 2017 Chevy Bolt EV. (Image and Caption Credit: Chevrolet)
“When our team began engineering for the Lunar Rover, there were so many unknowns, including varied terrain, extreme temperatures and the effect of reduced gravity. We pushed the boundaries of automotive technology and worked hand in hand with the astronauts on the vehicle’s design.”
He sees a clear connection between his team's early work on the moon-vehicle project, and the recent award-winning Chevrolet Bolt. Michael Lelli, chief engineer for the Bolt EV shared:
“The Bolt EV required a new architecture to upend the status quo on electric driving. We drew on our deep electrification expertise to provide Chevrolet customers the first long-range, affordable electric car.”
The Chevrolet Bolt's official details via General Motors:
Starting at an MSRP of $37,495 before federal tax incentives of up to $7,500 depending upon individual tax situation, the 2017 Bolt EV offers an EPA-estimated 238 miles of range on a single charge. Standard features include electronic precision shift, one-pedal driving, Regen on Demand™ steering wheel paddle, 10.2-inch-diagonal color touchscreen and an 8 year/100,000 mile battery and propulsion system limited warranty (whichever comes first, see dealer for details). The top-trim Premier model adds leather-appointed seats, front and rear heated seats, Surround Vision Camera, Rear Camera Mirror and more.