Commentary: The Immediate Social and Industrial Impact of a 238-Mile Range EV
General Motors is defining what a practical EV looks like.
Electric cars might not be what will make a difference to meet the looming Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for 2025. The future will see greater and greater market penetration of electric cars. Tesla has been a force of chaos in the automotive world, and it is not clear if it will ultimately be a force of good or evil. Chevrolet and its new Bolt EV is the culmination of a large automaker taking electric cars seriously, and, with 238 miles of range, they have a winner of their hands.
Electric cars have mostly been relegated to the realm of elite luxury cars and strangely designed urban runabouts that appeal to a small market. The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV is what an electric vehicle looks like when the combined muscle of a massive, mature multinational corporation decides to create an electric vehicle that can have mass appeal.
Many outlets are quick to draw a comparison between the Bolt EV and the 2017 Tesla Model 3. While both of these cars are positioned as mass-market vehicles, but unlike the boundary-pushing Tesla, the Bolt EV has its rubber clad feet in the world of today and the world of tomorrow. This is why there doesn’t seem to be a reason to compare the two. It will be Bolt EV, not the Model 3, that will define what the EV market will look like in the next fifteen to twenty years.
Chevrolet has shown its maturity as a company by creating an electric car that is wants to be a well-built technologically advanced hatchback. As electric cars begin to penetrate further into the market, they must become replacements for their gasoline powered contemporaries. Electric cars must mature and accept the role they need to play rather than just being proof-of-concept that electricity, and not gasoline, can be the mainstream fuel of the future.
The Bolt EV has everything that a good hatchback needs – which is space, agility and technology. In terms of space, the Bolt EV has 16.9 cubic feet behind the second row which can be compared to 23.3 feet in the 2016 Ford Focus that has an extra two inches in wheelbase length. While it is difficult to judge without driving the Bolt EV and its low center of gravity and the 0-60 mph estimate of under 7 seconds, the driving experience should promise to be more awakening than many of its gasoline powered competitors.
Technology can make or break a hatchback. This is even more important for an EV where the target customer is going to demand well-integrated technology. Chevrolet has done very well with their low end touchscreen head units in their Spark and Sonic. The head unit in the Bolt EV is extremely visually appealing and the fonts, shapes and colors give it a bespoke character that is fitting for an EV. As long as there is enough processing power and the low-energy quick connect Bluetooth system works flawlessly, the Bolt EV should be a winner for this tech hungry writer.
Chevrolet is a step ahead of the competition with the Bolt EV. There are many manufacturers who see EVs as the inconvenient reality of financially unsound government regulations. This couldn't be farther from the truth because the world doesn't end when we reach 2025. Companies that aren't investing in the future, whether it is electric vehicles, car sharing or driverless vehicles, will be the companies that face an uncertain future in an auto market that is rapidly realigning itself with new consumer demands. The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV has brought the credibility that has been lacking in the Electric Vehicle market. We can't wait to get behind the wheel of one.
Photo courtesy of General Motors