Last week, on the day before the blizzard hit our area, the Washington Auto Show opened to the press. We were so excited to have been invited to a special day sponsored by Chevrolet and She Buys Cars. Since we have owned 2 Chevy Volts, and one Chevy Traverse, we could not wait to see the brand new 2017 Chevrolet Bolt. A tiny amount of snow fell the night before the event which snarled traffic and delayed our school opening. I was not able to attend the event but my hubby, from Tips From Dad offered to cover the event. He quickly got on the metro and headed to see the Chevy Bolt.
There was plenty to see and many innovations worth mentioning at the Auto Show this year, but the one car I was most excited to see was the new Chevy Bolt EV. The Bolt is scheduled to be released some time this fall and I’m hoping that we will be one of the first in line to get one. This car really is a game-changer in the sense that you will now have an EV (which stands for Electric Vehicle) with a battery that will allow you to travel 200+ miles for the low price of $30,000.
We have owned two Chevy Volt over the past 4 years and we have grown to really appreciate our EV. But, we have been patiently waiting for one to come out with significant additional battery range that is not priced in the $80-100,000+ range (yes, I’m looking at you Tesla). In our years of owning the Volt we have driven the majority of our miles using only the battery (over 98%) and we’ve saved significant money while doing so. We’ve been able to do this by having a Level 2 charging station at home and being smart about the trips we take for work, shopping and school as well as finding places to charge. We try to go shopping at places with charging stations like Whole Foods and Mom’s Organic Market. I can also tell you exactly where the best charging stations are at the Amtrak and local airports as well as the parking garages that have charging stations. In general, we get about 40 miles per charge depending on a number of factors and we rarely go over that on any single day. The Bolt has a battery range that will exceed 200 miles per charge which means that we will be able to go days without recharging which will make the Bolt more like a ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicle than a EV. One of the interesting things about the Bolt is that it has both the standard charge configuration as well as the fast DC charging option (the portion that is covered with the orange plug below). This gives you the option of using the fast DC chargers which can charge this vehicle completely in 90 min or less!
200 miles+ on one charge
200 or more miles per charge is actually a really significant amount of range and well within almost everyone’s daily commute or travel distance. Chevy and other auto manufacturers have done significant research into the driving habits of Volt owners and they really understand how we have used our EVs over the past 5 years. Some interesting data points:
- The vast majority of charging of EVs occurs at home (close to 90%)
- If they are not charging at home they are charging at work and that number is going up every year as more companies add charging stations
- Volt users drive most of their miles using their battery charge and not using the generator while driving (over 80% of miles are driven in EV mode)
Looking at these stats tells an interesting story about how Volt drivers have been using their vehicles with the limits of a 40+ mile range on the battery. The Bolt will have 5 times that amount of charge available which means you should always have enough charge to go where you want on a regular daily basis. Tesla owners have had that level of battery for a few years and I have yet to meet a Tesla owner that has ever run out of charge. The argument that you wouldn’t want to own an EV because of range anxiety is now a moot point with the introduction of the Bolt.
Yeah, but would I enjoy driving an EV?
I am going to cover the experience of driving an EV in some detail in another post on EVs. I would highly recommend that you go for a test drive of any Electric Vehicle so that you can get an idea of the differences in how you drive and how it will change the way you drive in general. The one thing I can tell you is that driving an EV is really fun! EVs have great pickup, especially in sport mode. I have been at a red light next to many sports cars. It is quite satisfying to be going faster than a ferrari or corvette out of the gate. Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to actually drive the Bolt, but we did get to “kick the tires” and peak in the car to see what it looked like and what will be inside. While the car is smallish looking from the outside, the inside space seemed quite spacious. One of the differences you will notice from the Volt to the Bolt is that the backseat is much better. They have changed the battery configuration so that the floor is completely flat as are the 3 seats which give you much more room. The dashboard looks very modern and is set up similarly to other new Chevys.
The center console navigation screen is multifunctional and well designed in both size and functionality. The display itself is a 10.2-inch diagonal tablet-like display which also gives you access to many of your favorite apps directly from your phone including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. I was able to play around with the Apple CarPlay using my iPhone and was very impressed. Apple CarPlay allows you to use your iPhone to make calls, listen to music, get directions and more all on the main 10.2-inch diagonal display. Android Auto allows you to connect your compatible smartphone to the center display to access select apps, your calendar and playlists or navigate with Google Maps (sadly, no WAZE…… yet). Did I mention that every Bolt comes with 4g LTE wifi!!! Yes, you (and by “you” I mean your passengers) can access anything on the Internet on your phone or tablet while you are driving or stopped somewhere. If you are on a long trip and need to stop and charge you can easily access your email, files or check into your hotel right from your car.
Some other features
One of the really innovative features on the 2017 Chevy Bolt is the use of a dedicated rear view camera which projects onto your rear view mirror to show you a perfect view of what is happening behind you while you are driving. No worries about site lines or obstructions (like tall people in the backseat) blocking your view.
Here is how Chevy describes it:
This available innovative rearview mirror technology projects a wide-angle view of the area behind the vehicle in the inside rearview mirror. The mirror surface doubles as a video screen and provides the driver with a full, high-resolution view, without the obstruction of rear head restraints or rear-seat passengers. So you can make sure there’s nothing behind you but
a clear view.
When you see it in person you will understand why this is such a great feature.
One pedal driving
One pedal driving? What does that mean? Most EVs have regenerative braking which allows you to recharge the battery while you are coming to a stop. In the Bolt (and also the Volt) there is a paddle on the steering wheel which when pulled in, kicks in the region braking and begins to slow the car down. It greatly limits your need to use your brakes while improving your range. Again, this will change the way you drive.
When operating the Bolt EV in “Low” mode, or by holding the Regen on Demand paddle located on the back of the steering wheel, the driver can bring the vehicle to a complete stop under most circumstances by simply lifting their foot off the accelerator, although the system does not relieve the need to use the brake pedal altogether.
I’m not the only one that is excited about the Bolt. This Wired article on the Bolt is a great summary of why the Bolt will be so amazing. If you enjoy saving money on gas, driving a fun car, and you are ready for a change, give a Volt or a Bolt a try!
If you have a free minute check out this video of the 2017 Chevy Bolt.
Thank you to Chevrolet and She Buys Cars for sponsoring this post and for inviting us to this event at the Washington Auto Show.