As “good” and “green” as electric cars can be, their impact on our environment will not be as magical as some agencies and governments would like you to believe. I’ve read a number of studies on the topic and a most recent one pertains to the well-to-wheels emissions of electric vehicles based on each country’s electricity fuel source. The data applies to 143 currently recognized sovereign states (i.e. countries) in the world today. Needless to say, this is a complex bit of work.
Canada, which comes in as the 22nd “cleanest”, is blessed with numerous clean sources of electricity, especially in Quebec where hydro-electricity (the cleanest recognized kind) accounts for nearly 100% of all electricity produced in the Province. By comparison, the US lands around 90th and its electricity fuel sources “pollute” three times more (the world’s average) than they do in Canada.
This explains in part why, now that the EV craze has come crashing through my front door, the Boss and I are more than happy to let it take over our lives. Cars like the VW e-Golf, Hyundai Ioniq and the Chevy Bolt have clearly demonstrated the real-world application of these cars. The Bolt however, stands out for a few reasons, both good and bad.
The Bolt’s outer shell is fits the car like a glove. The Chevy’s aura is that of the perfect car and it begins with its pleasing and clean styling. As a 5-door hatchback, or crossover as GM would like you to believe, the car’s aerodynamics are spot on. The underside plays an important role here as it is nearly completely flat.
I for one love the detailed short front fenders where the headlight flows into the badging, cutting them off from the bonnet. The sharply rising beltline gives the car a streamlined arrowhead look that is wonderfully accentuated by the chrome.
The cabin is not quite as special but its design and layout are purely functional, with a dose of 21st Century jazz. The large 10.2” touchscreen takes center stage in a simple yet adorned dash that also includes an 8” customizable screen/gauge cluster.
The mix of interior colors is tasteful especially in the leather that covers the seats in my Premier trimmed example.
The Bolt is shoe-in for daily family usability. Access to the trunk is made easy thanks to the large hatch. The boot features a height-adjustable load floor that, when in the higher position, conceals a good-sized storage area that is ideal for small bags, or the included recharging cable. All in all, with the 2nd row in place, there’s room for nearly 500 litres of stuff.
Said second row is replete with plenty of room for all appendages and could accommodate a third person in the central position, in a jam. Up front, the occupants gain extra legroom thanks to the floating centre stack and extra headroom because of the high roofline. Storage bins abound while all seats are fairly comfortable.
This is where it gets difficult to defend the Bolt. The majority of EVs currently on offer in Canada hover around the $35k range for starters. Chevy wants $10k more than that and a good portion is attributable to the larger battery and powerful electric powertrain. The tough pill to swallow is that heated front seats and steering wheel are an option at this price.
Satellite radio, Wi-Fi hotspot, LED taillights, 17” wheels, Chevrolet MyLink, the screens and a long list of safety features are included. The extra $5k for heated everything with leather, surround vision camera and a few other items almost make the $50,000 Premier worthwhile. Sadly, a navigation system is not offered, even at this price…
The final element, and this applies to current EVs, is their resale value. Spending this kind of money on a car that may lose well over 50% of its value after three years doesn’t make much sense. GM Canada will eventually have more Bolts to sell, it will evolve and if not come down in price, increase in power, content or both. Seems like leasing is the best option at the moment.
The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt’s claim to fame is crushing range anxiety at a price point well below that of a Tesla Model S. With an indicated maximum range of 383 km (I managed an indicated maximum of 279 km – cold-ish weather and a heavy right foot (Range indication based on state of charge and the previous 50km of travel/driving habit)), the Bolt currently offers up to 140 km more than the next longest ranger, the new LEAF, albeit for that supplemental $10k…
The 60-kWh battery storage unit combined with the powerful electric drive unit produce 200 horsepower and 266 lb.-ft. of torque. This is enough get-up-and-go to launch the 1,624 kg (3,580 lbs) 5-door 5-seater to 100 km/h is 6.5 seconds, or about what a VW GTI managed a few years ago. This is right proper quick.
Like all EVs, the swell of torque from a standstill makes them incredibly fun to drive in the city. The Bolt is equally comfortable on the highway where passing manoeuvres are in no way tedious or risky. To drive the Bolt is to have options, and I think this is one of my favorite aspects of GM’s EV.
Drive, or “D”, is the default mode. There is no “Eco” mode but there is a “Sport” button for sharper accelerations. I’m a sucker for brake regeneration and the Chevy gives me two options. The first is to pull the shift lever into “L” which is very useful in an urban setting. My go-to is “D” with the paddle.
The Chevrolet Bolt features a paddle behind the steering wheel’s left spoke that activates brake regen like an on-off switch (volume on the right-hand spoke). This enables the driver, once becoming familiar with reaction times/distances/speeds, to drive with only the throttle, or one floor-mounted pedal driving. After only a day or so, it becomes intuitive.
The Bolt’s ride quality also ranks highly in the “why I like this car so much”. The dampers are compliant, ideal for the city, meanwhile the chassis’ overall tuning still manages spirited on-ramp speeds with no fuss.
This car is quiet, very comfortable and a pleasure to drive. There are no compromises thanks to its range but there is one massive hurdle: the price. A few provinces offer huge incentives to buy these cars which, in Ontario especially, softens the blow. Thing is they also does the same for all the other 100% electric cars…
Bottom line, I think the Bolt is a stunning achievement, a brilliant automobile and a bright beacon for the future of the car. Well done GM!