September 16, 2016


The Chevrolet Bolt Is a Quiet Revolution : It makes electric vehicles plausible in a way no other car has. (Daniel Gross, 9/16/16, Slate)

On environmental grounds, it fulfills the promise of emissions-free driving. (Especially if the electricity that charges the battery comes from solar panels.) Functionally, the Bolt is fun to drive, as I learned test-driving one in Manhattan this week. Instead of feeling like a golf cart in electric mode--as the Toyota Prius plug-in does--the Bolt zipped with sufficient pace to let me cut off several drivers and run yellow lights in the congested streets of midtown. (It also has a regenerative mode, in which simply easing off the accelerator causes the car to brake and recharge the batteries.)

But it's the car's range that contributes most to its plausibility. GM believes that 200 miles is an important psychological barrier for potential purchasers of all-electric cars. The Bolt easily surpasses that. Which means you could drive from New York to Boston without stopping for juice. If you're simply driving around town, you could go a week between charges. And there are plenty of gas-powered cars that need to be refueled every 238 miles. Even if it won't wholly eliminate range anxiety, the Bolt should alleviate a lot of it.

Finally, the Bolt is plausible financially. Iterative engineering gets us better and more effective stuff for the same price or lower. This is glaringly obvious when it comes to products like computers and phones, whose prices fall even as their functionality increases exponentially. But it's also true for anything that runs on a combination of motors, electronics, and software--washers, dryers, refrigerators, freezers, and, yes, cars. The Bolt has about nine times the electric range of the 2010 Volt, is packed with many more functions, and costs $37,000. (When you account for inflation, the price drop from the first Volt is even more impressive.) GM points out that, after the $7,000 federal tax credit, the Bolt will cost about $30,000--less than the average price paid for a new car sold in the U.S.

Posted by at September 16, 2016 12:49 PM