“2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premiere”
A winning Electric Small Wagon leads the pack
The Chevrolet Bolt advances the viability of electric vehicles to the forefront, taking the lead in terms of range and affordability. The 2017 Bolt conquers range anxiety with an EPA estimated range of 238 miles per charge at a base cost of roughly $30,000 after a full federal tax credit application. Okay, admittedly the Tesla Model S delivers a higher range, but also comes at a considerably higher cost.
The Bolt’s design is derived from a clean sheet approach in the form of a small wagon with crossover-like proportions. Production of the Bolt began late last year.
The drive system’s propulsion comes from a single, high capacity electric motor that is capable of generating up to 266 pound feet of torque (360 Nm) while producing 200 horsepower (150 kW), which combined with its 7.05:1 final drive ratio helps to propel it from 0-60 mph in 6.5 seconds. Motive force reaches the front driving wheels, controlled by Chevrolet’s first Electronic Precision Shift system – a shift and park-by-wire system transmitted through electronic signals. The electronic shifter takes up less space than a conventional mechanical system, yielding additional interior space and an enhanced cabin layout.
The Chevy Bolt’s battery pack is flat and spans the entire floor length of the vehicle. It is a 60 kW lithium ion affair that consists of 5 sections, 10 modules and 96 cell groups (three cells per group). A 7.2 kW onboard charger is provided for overnight charging from a 240-V standard wall box. In essence, a 50-mile commute may be recharged in under two hours. A DC Fast Charging system is available, and utilizing the industry standard SAE Combo connector allows the battery to be charged for up to 90 miles of range in an average of 30 minutes. Regenerative braking provides one-pedal driving – the Bolt will come to a complete stop without the use of the brake when set in “L” mode.
The battery pack and electric drive components of the Bolt are covered by an impressive eight-year/100,000-mile warranty, which minimizes the concern or worry of owning a high-tech EV. It is ultimately a very capable alternative to traditional gas-powered vehicles.
The Bolt shines in connectivity features including EV-specific navigation capability that searches out routes to aid in maximizing range and providing information on charging station locations. The standard Bolt comes with high-end gear such as a 10.2-inch touch screen, parental controls for teen drivers, and support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – two systems that blend your smartphone’s functions and apps into the car’s infotainment offerings. Active safety systems (like parking sensors and blind spot alerts) are also available, and Bluetooth low energy seamlessly connects a smartphone to the vehicle as the owner approaches. There’s a large 10.2-inch diagonal color touch-screen featuring a “flip-board” operation. There’s also a rear camera mirror and Surround Vision.
The Bolt’s spacious greenhouse serves up panoramic visibility along with upright SUV-like seating. The instrument panel is a “floating” affair, which along with the connected multipurpose center console, offers wireless phone charging and a large compartment for tablet storage.
Safety features abound, including: ten standard air bags, a standard rear vision camera and optionally available active safety features such as Side Blind Zone Alert, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Forward Collision Alert and Forward Pedestrian Alert.
There are two levels of trim offered for the Chevrolet Bolt EV – the base LT and more upscale Premiere. My test vehicle was the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt Premiere EV, which came with a base sticker of $40,905. (base price approx $30,000 after full Federal tax credit) and an as tested price of $43,905. before federal or state tax credits. The exterior wore a Kinetic Blue metallic exterior finish, while the interior featured a Dark Galvanized Gray tone.
SUMMARY: Driving the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt Premiere EV can morph into a game-like experience. A game wherein the driver does everything possible to achieve an ever-higher range, while minimizing the consumption of stored energy. It is actually the first mass-market electric car to offer in excess of 200 mile on a single charge.
Acceleration is quick off the line, as with all electric vehicles, even at full passenger capacity. Cornering is essentially flat, rolling on its 17-inch alloy wheels and tires. There’s only a minimal whine from the electric motor, and the brake sensation is consistent, without any noticeable transition between regenerative and friction braking. There are two distinct drive modes. The normal Drive mode on the “gear selector” lever behaves much like an automatic transmission equipped car—even with an idle creep when stopped. Speaking of stopping, the alternative Low range increases regenerative braking considerably, slowing the car to a complete stop without the use of the brakes.
The Bolt displays a tall upright hatchback profile featuring a progressively rising window or shoulder line. The frontal treatment, with its blank grille is akin to that of the Volt Plug-in Hybrid. The wheels are extended out to the corners, with short overhangs front and rear. The Bolt appears to be smaller than it actually is, with its claimed five-passenger capacity. The cargo bay is deep, with a false floor that matching the level of the fold-flat rear seat back, that hides a storage compartment beneath. it slides out, adding several additional inches of load height.
Up front, the dashboard has a fully digital 8.0-inch instrument cluster ahead of the steering wheel, with a 10.2-inch color touchscreen positioned in the top of the central console. The displays are highly legible, and another high-tech feature is GM’s new digital rearview mirror, which utilizes a rear-facing camera giving a wide 80-degree image in the digital display replacing the mirror glass.
The onboard charger operates at up to 7.2 kilowatts. A portable 120-volt charging cord is provided, but Chevy figures that the majority of Bolt drivers will choose to recharge the battery pack using 240-volt Level 2 charging stations, mostly overnight at home. GM quotes a charging rate of “50 miles in less than 2 hours” using Level 2, while a full recharge can take roughly 9 hours. The Bolt EV will also include an optional CCS fast-charging port, which GM says is capable of providing “90 miles in 30 minutes.” The latter is the optimal way to go and worth the extra $750.
Both versions of the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV qualify for a $7,500 federal income-tax credit, along with a $2,500 purchase rebate from the state of California. The Bolt also qualifies for single-occupancy use of California carpool lanes on freeways.
GM categorizes the Bolt as a crossover vehicle, but since it offers neither an all-wheel drive option nor a substantial ground clearance for off-roading, the term utility vehicle doesn’t seem appropriate.
The battery pack, motor, and drive unit of all Bolts are manufactured in Inchon, South Korea, but will be assembled in Orion Township, Michigan.
SPECIFICATIONS: 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premiere
Base Price: $40,905. (base price approx $30,000 after full Federal tax credit)
Price as Tested: $43,905. Before federal or state tax credits.
Engine Type and Size: Permanent magnetic drive single motor and gearset with rechargeable energy storage system comprising multiple linked modules. Lithium-Ion battery- 288 cells 60kWh – 960 pounds.
Horsepower (bhp): 200 – 150kW
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 266
Transmission: Electronic Precision Shift (electronic transmission selector with “L”- Low mode for regenerative braking).
Drive Train: Transversely mounted front motor / Front-wheel drive.
Suspension: StabiliTrak stability system
Front – Independent MacPherson strut-type with direct acting solid stabilizer bar.
Rear – Semi-independent, compound crank (torsion beam) with coil springs.
Brakes: Power-assisted four-wheel disc brakes (vented front) electro-hydraulic, with ABS and partially regenerative braking plus Regen On Demand steering wheel paddle and dynamic rear brake proportioning.
Tires: Michelin Energy 215/50 R17 A/S mounted on 5-“loop-spoke” alloy wheels with machine face and painted inners.
Wheelbase: 102.4 inches
Length Overall: 164.0 inches
Width: 69.5 inches
Height: 62.9 inches
Curb Weight: 3,580 lbs.
Turning Circle: 35.4 ft.
Fuel Capacity: Electric – no fuel
EPA Mileage Estimates: 128 mpg city / 110 mpg highway – 119 MPGe
Drag Coefficient: Not listed
0 – 60 mph: 6.5 seconds
Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles and unusual wheeled vehicles as well.