While everyone has been buzzing about the Tesla 3 for months, Chevrolet has been quietly putting the finishing touches on its own plug-in electric vehicle, the Bolt.
And while the name might make you think of a certain animated Disney feature, there’s no denying that this vehicle is a serious contender in the 100% electric race. Not only does the Bolt compete with the Tesla 3 on price, well under $40k before the $7,500 federal rebate, today Chevy announced a very competitive 238-mile estimated range that must have Elon Musk grinding his teeth in frustration.
But the best part about the Bolt isn’t the price or the range, it’s the availability. While customers will be waiting till late 2017 or beyond for the Tesla 3 to arrive (and, if the Model X rollout is any indicator, maybe longer), Chevrolet is using its manufacturing and production experience to get the Bolt out to dealerships late this year. That’s at least a year of gas-free driving! And certainly long enough for Chevrolet to establish the Bolt in the affordable EV niche. The Bolt’s 238-mile range outpaces anything that other traditional manufacturers are doing in the all-electric market. The only other vehicle (other than Tesla) that’s even close is the Nissan Leaf, and that tops out at 107 miles of range.
The Bolt has some great interior features as well – the instrument cluster is customizable so that you can tweak the readouts to what matter most to you. And the navigation/entertainment center screen is a nice mix of a large screen paired with traditional buttons. Sorry all-screen fans; but when it comes to making sure your eyes stay on the road, you need the tactile feedback of a switch, knob, or button. I will say that the press shots I’ve seen of the Bolt make me wonder how practical it will be for a family of four on a long road trip; but I’m hoping to get my hands on a Bolt when they’re released later this year to answer just that question.
The Chevy Bolt will be the first to market with an EV that behaves more like a traditional car. You’ll be able to take long weekend trips and not worry if there’s a place to plug in along the way. You don’t have to worry that your car won’t be topped off enough in the morning to handle any traffic jams your commute might throw at you. 238 miles effectively kills range anxiety. With the distribution strength of the Chevy brand behind it, the Bolt may be the real bell weather to see if a mass-produced electric vehicle can still make a dent in a consumer market that’s grown used to cheap gas and large vehicles.