GM Ups Its EV Game
The wraps came off the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV production car at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) the first week in January. To keep the buzz going, Chevy waited for the Detroit Auto Show to dish out the technical details on what could become the electric car leader in America.
The production Bolt’s styling follows closely that of the concept car unveiled at last year’s Detroit show. There isn’t much in terms of fanciful-looking styling and the car can best be described as a hatchback designed to look more like a small crossover SUV.
Heavily inspired by Chevy’s compact models, there are minimal front and rear overhangs and a spacious greenhouse. It has seating for five people and a degree of space and utility that most EV’s can’t match. In fact, interior space is near a midsize car by volume.
Inside, the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV packs a wide array of infotainment and connectivity features, the reason for showing the car at CES. Things start with a large 10.2-inch center console touchscreen and Chevrolet’s new MyLink system. It’s capable of showing highly accurate driving range information by factoring topography, time of day, weather and the driver’s driving habits.
Also included is Bluetooth and OnStar 4G LTE connectivity that can turn the car into a wifi hotspot. MyChevrolet app will let owners check on the Bolt’s charge status as well as preset the cabin
temperature and schedule dealer service.
Driver assist systems include a wide-angle rear camera and Surround Vision, which gives a bird’s eye view of surroundings to assist low-speed driving and parking. For some informative entertainment, “Gamification” gives Bolt owners the opportunity to compete and compare driving styles and learn who drives their Bolt more efficiently.
One Very BIG Battery
Weighing in at 960 pounds, the lithium-ion battery pack is positioned under the Bolt’s cabin floor, extending from side to side and from the front footwell to the back of the rear seat. The 60-kilowatt hour pack is the same size as the now discontinued 208-mile range Tesla Model S 60, and has a peak power of 160 kilowatts.
Not disclosed by Chevrolet is the battery’s usable energy. That’s a vital parameter that determines driving range. Based on the Volt extended range hybrid and Spark EV, it will be on the conservative side in order to not overtax the battery. Chevy is quoting a “more that 200-mile” driving range until the official EPA numbers are released.
For the tech-minded, a new cell design and nickel-rich lithium-ion chemistry was developed by General Motors and South Korean battery maker LG Chem. GM says the new cells and chemistry “offer improved thermal operating performance” as well as allowing the Bolt “to maintain peak performance in varying climates and driver demands.”
Specifically, the battery cells are arranged in a “landscape” format and each measures in at only 3.9-inches high and 13.1-inches wide. The new cell chemistry requires a smaller liquid active cooling system and in turn enables more efficient packaging.
The battery system is mated to a standard built-in 7.2-kilowatt onboard charger. GM quotes a charging time of “50 miles in less than two hours” using a 240-Volt Level 2 charger with a full recharge in “about nine hours.”
Bolt EV also features an optional DC Fast Charging system using the industry standard SAE Combo connector. Using DC Fast Charging, the battery can be charged up to 90 miles of range in 30 minutes.
200 Horsepower Electric Motor
Like most electric vehicles, the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV is propelled by a single high-capacity electric motor. Designed in-house, the magnetic drive motor delivers an estimated 200 horsepower
and 266 pounds-feet of torque. That will allow the Bolt to dash from 0-60 mph in under 7 seconds while hitting a top speed of 91 miles per hour.
Power delivery to the front wheels is managed by Chevrolet’s first Electronic Precision Shift system. It’s a shift and park-by-wire design that sends electronic signals to the Bolt EV’s drive unit to manage precise feel and delivery of power and torque, based on drive mode selection and accelerator inputs.
Regen Braking: One Pedal Stop
It is well-known that regenerative braking dramatically reduces brake pad wear. The 2017 Bolt has a new regenerative braking system that extends brake pad life and recoups kinetic energy for a tad more battery energy, and range.
When traveling in Low mode or by holding the Regen-on-Demand paddle located behind the steering wheel, the driver can slow the car down and bring it to a complete stop only by lifting his foot off the accelerator — no need to use the brake pedal. If the car is running in Drive mode, and the paddle is not utilized while decelerating, the brake pedal must be pressed for the car to stop.
Not a Compliance Electric Vehicle
From the beginning, when the Bolt EV concept was introduced, Chevrolet has said the car would be available in all 50 states. That message was repeated in Detroit when GM’s CEO Mary Barra told reporters, “You can look at the car, and you can buy it just because you love the car as well as the fact that it has a 200-mile electric range. This wasn’t a compliance play.”
That’s a departure, since most EVs initially go on sale only in California and the other 11 states that have signed on to that state’s zero emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate.
To that I say, “Good on ‘ya, GM.” I think the Bolt, not the Volt, will be the game-changer when it arrives at the end of the year priced under $30,000 after government incentives.
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