There’s some good news and some bad news. Chevrolet’s highly anticipated Bolt EV has been launched at CES – though the down side is that it’s not planned to go on sale in the UK.
Despite that, the compact pure-electric vehicle is said by the American manufacturer to offer an affordable long-range electric vehicle to the masses and marks a step forward in EV development.
The basic facts are that the Bolt will be able to cover more than 200 miles on a full charge and will cost the equivalent of around £20,000 (after government grants) when it goes on sale. The catch for UK customers is that there are currently no plans to produce a right-hand drive model, making it unlikely that it will go on sale in Britain.
Whether Chevrolet’s bosses at General Motors change their minds or not, the Bolt EV looks set to prove an invaluable model in the EV market. The fact that a compact and affordable family car that can cover around 200 miles is available and on sale is likely to push other manufacturers to do the same. The Bolt EV will cost about the same as a Nissan Leaf 24kWh for example and, though it is a little smaller, will go twice as far on a charge.
Comparing it with a car closer in size – BMW’s i3 – will see buyers pay around £6,000 less for the American machine, again with the ability to go cover twice the distance. It is this step change in the Bolt EV’s range, combined with its affordability, that is the crucial element in its worldwide importance.
Until now, the standard real-world range is 100 miles from the majority of EVs. Nissan has increased that to about 125 miles with the Leaf 30kWh but, the next step up from there is the Tesla Model S – a car that will cover more than 200 miles comfortably, but one that costs more than twice as much as the rest of the family-sized EVs readily available to buy.
Chevrolet hasn’t just concentrated on the electric powertrain though and the Bolt EV looks as though it will prove excellent value for buyers. There is a large touch screen display that can be divided up to show various sets of information. The Bluetooth connectivity has been designed to minimise the drain on the car’s battery too and this is crucial since connectivity features play a big part in the car’s interior.
The cabin has been designed to offer occupants maximum available space and should see four adults seated in comfort, while there is also the ability for the driver to battle it out with other Bolt EV drivers by being able to upload their eco-driving performance to compare with others. GM’s OnStar system, found in much of the Vauxhall range now, is available too which will find your stolen car, provide a WiFi hot-spot for passengers and contact the emergency services in the event of an accident, among other features.
In terms of charging, the images show a Type 1 connection and Chevrolet says that a 240v supply will take 9 hours for a full charge. The car’s satellite navigation system is optimised to include charging stations en route or to take drivers along the most efficient routes to maximise range.
Battery and motor details are yet to be announced by Chevrolet but production of the Bolt EV is confirmed to start production later this year. European sales are likely to start in early 2017.Now all that’s needed is for everyone to write to Chevrolet trying to persuade them to change their minds about right-hand drive production.