By John Voelcker / Green Car Reports: The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV will be the world’s first mass-priced electric car with a range of 200 miles or more. That alone makes it a hugely important new market entry. Going on sale in late 2016 or early 2017, just six years after modern electric cars arrived, the Bolt EV represents a second generation of cars running solely on battery energy recharged from the grid.
And at least in part, it’s a reaction by General Motors—one of the world’s three largest carmakers—to a perceived threat by startup maker Tesla Motors. The 2017 Bolt EV will compete against other new plug-in vehicles, including a second-generation Nissan Leaf that should arrive within a year or so of the Bolt’s debut. The Tesla Model 3 is supposed to go into production in the second half of 2017, with 200-plus miles of range and a starting price of $35,000. Updated longer-range versions of earlier electric cars, including the BMW i3 and Volkswagen e-Golf, will also act as competitors.
But the Bolt EV, whose precise range has yet to be revealed, will stand alone at least in its first year as the sole electric car with more than 200 miles of range and a price below $40,000 before incentives.
It’s a five-door hatchback, whose relatively small footprint hides a huge volume of interior room—94.4 cubic feet, or as much as a Tesla Model S, Chevy says, though differently organized and with a lot more headroom. That’s two segments larger than you’d expect from the car, which resembles an upright compact hatchback.
While Chevy refers to the Bolt EV in some of its marketing as a “crossover utility vehicle,” it’s not what most buyers would consider a crossover, since it has neither the high ground clearance nor the available all-wheel drive that characterize the more car-like SUV substitutes. The powertrain, jointly developed by Chevrolet and Korean electronics giant LG, is comprised of a 60-kilowatt-hour battery under the floorpan that powers an electric motor driving the front wheels that has peak output up to 150 kilowatts (200 horsepower). A prototype Bolt EV we drove in January accelerated briskly, rode smoothly, and felt somewhat less appliance-like than the earlier and less powerful Nissan Leaf, which is currently the world’s best-selling electric car.
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