General Motors has announced the Environmental Protection Agency–estimated range for the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt at 238 miles, surpassing the automaker’s original estimates. This range is a multiple of most electric cars and puts the Bolt's range on par with Teslas costing at least twice as much.
A range of 238 miles is a major accomplishment for a fully electric vehicle. While the Tesla Model S P90D promises in excess of 290 miles of EPA-rated range, it comes with a heady starting price of $113,200. The Kia Soul EV starts at $31,950, but it has an EPA-estimated range of only 90 miles. The Nissan Leaf starts at $29,010 and has an EPA-estimated range of 107 miles. Chevrolet says to expect pricing for the Bolt to start under $37,500.
It's typical that an electric car will not achieve its official range in the real world; results may vary, as they say. But even if the Bolt concedes 15 percent of that and and ends up with a 200-mile range, it would shame most rivals. Significantly, it would help the EV movement by reducing range anxiety.
We drove a 2017 Bolt at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this year. That early preproduction model was responsive, with engaging steering making it relatively fun to drive. Aiding that impression, the Bolt has 200 horsepower and 266 lb.-ft. of torque, enabling it to run 0-60 mph in a claimed 7 seconds.
This is the first GM application of what could be called “one-pedal driving.” The prototype we drove had two efficiency modes. With the first, a pull lever on the left side of the steering wheel (like a paddle shifter, similar to the Chevrolet Volt) operates the regenerative braking and can bring the car to a stop. To use the other mode, shift to "L" and the car will engage regenerative braking with throttle pedal released—like the BMW i3—bringing the car to a stop. You can conceivably drive the car all day without using the brake pedal. Instead of wasting energy as heat is released into the environment through the brakes, you can harness the energy to charge the batteries for later use.
The roomy interior houses a new infotainment system with low-energy Bluetooth, which can recognize the driver’s phone before entering the car, accelerating the connecting procedure. Like other recent GM models, the Bolt can serve as a mobile WiFi hot spot with a data plan.
The navigation system factors in EV considerations, with routes configured to maximize range and the ability to find local charge stations. Through the MyChevrolet smartphone app, the driver can check charge status, set the interior for heat or cooling, start the car remotely, access the owner’s manual, and schedule service.
Chevrolet says to expect pricing to start under $37,500 when it arrives at select dealers in late 2016. The Bolt will be eligible for state and federal rebates of up to $7,500 depending on the tax status of the buyer. (Consumers considering buying an EV with state and federal rebates should consult a tax professional first.)
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