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General Motors first unveiled its Chevrolet Bolt concept car at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Now, only a year later, the long-range electric vehicle is gearing up to hit the market.
The real 2017 Chevy Bolt EV — not a concept, not a model — hit the floor at the 2016 auto show to dropped jaws and slight disbelief. Many likely doubted that GM could make good on its promises of a Tesla-like range for a Chevy-like price, but it looks like those folks will have to eat their words.
Wondering what all the fuss is about? Spend five minutes learning everything you need to know about the 2017 Chevy Bolt, available for purchase in late 2016.
Designers were given free rein
Chevy calls the Bolt its “first ground-up, long-range electric vehicle” and says designers were given “unprecedented freedom” to make the car of their dreams.
“We were given a blank canvas – a rare opportunity with a unique platform to recast EV design for customers across the spectrum,” Stuart Norris, managing director of design for Chevrolet, said in a statement. “The team answered the challenge with a progressive design distinguished by dramatic graphics and exceptional passenger space.”
The all-electric range is something to write home about
Delivering on its promise of a long-range electric vehicle for an affordable price, Chevy claims the Bolt EV can travel more than 200 miles on a single charge. That blows away not only its own pure electric offering, the Chevy Spark EV, but also its primary competitors: the Ford Focus Electric, BMW i3 and Volkswagen e-Golf.
With the available 240-volt charging unit (professional installation required), users can add 25 miles of range per hour of charging, or charge the vehicle completely in nine hours. On-board tech allows drivers to easily track their energy use and find a charging station while on-the-go.
Advanced aerodynamics deliver high performance
Designers made aerodynamics a top priority, and it shows in the final product. When in motion, wind flows smoothly around the vehicle from the headlamps to the rear wheels. The lightweight aluminum body and smooth proportions cut down on drag to increase both range and pep.
And get this: The underbody is completely enclosed. Because batteries do not require air for combustion, a flat, sealed underbody streamlines airflow and further improves aerodynamics.
Inventive design makes for a roomier cabin and more trunk space
The Bolt owes its seriously roomy interior to a seriously clever design element: a flat battery pack mounted beneath the interior floor. By streamlining the battery pack, Chevy designers were able to make room for five passengers and 16.9 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat.
Inside, passengers sit upright in SUV-like seating positions, enhancing the roomy feel. In the rear, window glass extends all the way to the license plate and integrates with LED taillamps on the liftgate — making it easier to slide bulky items in and out of the trunk. Rear seats also fold down to extend cargo space to 56.6 cubic feet — a pretty darn impressive number for a car of this size.
“The flat-pack orientation offered the flexibility to make the most of the proportions while creating a clean, sculpted design,” Norris said in a statement. “This really opened up the interior and created a fantastic view from every seating position. All of this additional space gave us a lot of opportunities to play with creative design and storage solutions.”
It doesn’t skimp on tech
From a 10.2-inch, tablet-like display, drivers can navigate via GPS, check their contacts, play their music and more. And here’s the kicker: They can do it all using nothing but hand gestures for improved safety without sacrificing convenience.
Split-screen and expanded views make it easy to monitor battery range and energy use while jamming out to your favorite Spotify station. And the Bolt EV is also compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for more seamless integration with a driver’s smartphone.
The price won’t break the bank
When it comes to range, believe it or not the Chevy Bolt is most directly comparable with the Tesla Model S — which offers 230 miles of all-electric range for its smallest battery pack. This version, called the Tesla Model S 70, sells for $70,000 ($62,500 after federal tax incentives and possibly less with state incentives, depending on where you call home).
The Bolt EV, on the other hand, will only run you … wait for it … $37,500. That’s $30,000 after applying the federal tax credit, which puts it on par with both combustion-engine vehicles of the same class and competitors’ EVs that only offer a fraction of the range. Plus, you’ll never have to buy gas again. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal.
The bottom line
Last year, after checking out the Bolt EV concept car at the 2015 auto show in Detroit, 3p’s Leon Kaye predicted the market version would represent a “huge step closer toward the holy grail of electric vehicles: affordability and sustainability.”
After seeing it for ourselves, we’re inclined to say he was right. Even given the rock-bottom price of gasoline, the promise of an all-electric range that far exceeds the average American’s daily commute — for a price real drivers can actually afford — has the potential to lure even skeptics over to the zero-emission dark side.
What do you think? Would you take the Bolt EV for a test drive? Tell us about it in the comments section.
Image credits: Chevrolet