Chevrolet's 2020 Bolt EV: More Range, More Colors, More Electrifying
In my neighborhood, seeing a variety of Tesla models on the road is commonplace. Austin, Texas loves its electric vehicles, or EVs, and the city is set up for the charging infrastructure. In the middle of a state famous for its oil and gas revenues, it feels like a revolution.
There’s no doubt that the instant torque of a Tesla is a thrill. The price, however, is not. And with the average paycheck, it’s not tenable. Vehicles like the Toyota Prius, Nissan Leaf, and Honda Insight are all riding the EV train, and the interest is rising as the numbers of charging stations increase across the country.
Chevrolet introduced the all-electric Bolt in 2016, starting with a respectable 238 miles of EV driving range. For 2020, Chevrolet has increased the range from 238 to 259 miles on a full charge. With a single, high-capacity electric motor, the Bolt can be charged to up to 100 miles in only 30 minutes with a DC fast charger. At home, you can charge your Bolt overnight to a full charge with a 240V unit in about 10 hours.
EV Driving, Gamified
From my personal perspective, I find it a bit stressful to see the EV range dwindle when there is no time or no option for quick charging. My anxiety was ratcheting up as I was watching the range numbers decrease from the back seat as we raced to the airport to catch our flights on time. Honestly, though, it's the same stress a driver might feel if they are running out of gas and there isn't a fuel pump in sight.
The EV market is enthusiastic and engaged, and Chevrolet has found ways to leverage that, using gamification techniques to drive (pun intended) even more connections to the movement. The brand has a Facebook group in which Bolt drivers can share photos of their energy reports and hypermiling techniques, competing for EV mastery.
Harnessing that enthusiasm and integrating technology interfaces is a smart move, proving that even legacy manufacturers can learn new tricks. And just in time, I think; as environmental concerns grow louder, more buyers will consider EVs and hybrids than ever before.
Have Your Cake and Charge It, Too
Elements of the battery pack itself, which GM battery cell technical specialist Young Nam Kim described as a layer cake (complete with an edible layer cake for us to enjoy), includes highly recyclable materials like aluminum and copper sandwiched between anodes of graphite. Each Lithium-Ion battery contains 288 cells and generates 66 kWh, powering the Bolt at 200 hp.
I wondered about the recyclability of the Bolt battery and asked for answers. Chevrolet representatives told me they have a robust recycling program (read this press release here).
The low-maintenance Bolt comes with a three-year, 36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty; it also includes coverage for its battery and electric components for 8 years or 100,000 miles.
Safety Options Available but not Standard
The Driver Confidence Package, which is included on the Premier trim and available on the LT, includes lane change alert with side blind zone alert, rear cross-traffic alert, and rear park assist. The Driver Confidence II package adds automatic emergency braking, forward collision alert, following distance indicator, front pedestrian braking, and IntelliBeam headlamps.
All great features, right? I believe strongly that safety features should be included and not optional. All of these elements are important, and with Chevrolet’s Triple Zero initiative (zero crashes, zero emissions, zero congestion), it seems to me that for the difference in price point, the base model should include this important technology across the board. If you're buying a Bolt EV, don't hesitate to add the optional safety packages; it's worth every penny. The difference between the LT and the Premier trim is only about $4K.
I like to give credit where credit is due, and standing O to Chevrolet for including both Rear Seat Alert and Teen Driver standard in every Bolt. Both of these additions have the potential to save the lives of more kids in more cars, and that is a wonderful asset.
Imagine: no gas station runs. No oil changes. No hassle. If you plan well and understand the limits of your Bolt’s range, you and your vehicle could live a very happy EV life together. It’s EV like Sunday morning, you know what I’m saying?
WHAT WE LOVED
39.7 inches of headroom in the front seat – Chevrolet’s EV marketing manager, 6’3” Mike Hayes rode with me and he still had room over his head in the passenger seat
Leg room in the second row – 36.5 inches felt like plenty as I rode from our charging station to the airport
Intuitive, easy infotainment interface. Apple CarPlay was seamless and it was exceptionally well laid out to toggle from CarPlay to the standard vehicle information.
Regen on demand paddle converts kinetic energy into stored energy, extending range
One-pedal driving on low mode means that I could accelerate as my foot headed toward the floor and as I eased up, it slowed down quickly. With a little instruction, I learned how to “feather” the accelerator to go and to stop smoothly.
Large, clear digital speedometer was easily visible
Impressive camera modes and rearview mirror/camera option
The 2020 model is available in 11 colors. ELEVEN. The two new options for this model year are cayenne orange metallic and oasis blue.
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
See the note about safety features above. That covers it.
IF THIS CAR WERE A SONG, IT WOULD BE
"Easy Like Sunday Morning" by the Commodores, because I could not stop singing that tune to myself but with the lyrics "I'm EV like Chevy Bolt, yeaaaaaaah." I can't help myself; just be thankful that I did not record that on video.