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Chevrolet’s Electric Bolt Gets Fresh Look, Price Cut And Crossover

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Timing, as they say is everything. Four years ago, Chevrolet launched the Bolt EV as the first electric vehicle with range of over 200 miles and a starting sticker price of under $40,000. Unfortunately, as good as the Bolt is, it was entirely the wrong form factor for a market that was rapidly abandoning small cars and it didn’t have Elon Musk’s cult of personality around it so sales have languished. Now General Motors aims to addresses complaints people had about the original Bolt by giving the car a fresher look and interior, a base price that’s thousands of dollars less than Tesla’s Model 3 and a platform mate: the Bolt EUV “crossover.”

Back in early 2017 when the Bolt was first going on sale, crossovers were already well on their way to subsuming the traditional car-shaped auto market. Chevrolet marketers actually tried to refer to the Bolt as a crossover, presumably based on its relatively upright stance and taller hip point. Needless to say, the market did buy into this line of thinking and everyone recognized the Bolt for what it was, a compact hatchback. 

Not that there is anything inherently wrong with compact hatchbacks, they are an excellent form factor, especially for urban driving.  On the original media drive, we drove the Bolt from our starting point in Palo Alto, just a couple of minutes drive from Tesla’s
TSLA
TSLA
TSLA
headquarters to the Pacific coast and up to San Francisco. It proved to be surprisingly quick and nimble on twisty mountain roads, very efficient and with its compact footprint, much easier to maneuver in the city than the substantially larger EVs from that other company. 

To the degree there were complaints apart from the shape, the biggest were the seats and the materials. The seats were comparatively thin and while I never personally had an issue with them, others found them uncomfortable. With GM
GM
clearly trying to manage costs to minimize the losses on the Bolt the hard plastics were also an issue for some in a car that cost nearly $40,000 before tax breaks. Since its launch, the only notable change to the Bolt has been an upgraded battery for the 2020 model year that boosted range from the original 238 miles to 259 miles. 

Lower Prices

Along with a range of upgrades, 2022 Bolts get a lower sticker price. The standard 2022 Bolt EV is getting a $5,500 base price cut to $31,995 including delivery charges. (That’s $6,000 cheaper than Tesla’s base version Model 3 sedan, the company’s top-seller, which goes an estimated 263 miles per charge.) The Bolt EUV starts at $33,995. GM is also offering a Bolt EUV Launch Edition with all the options including Super Cruise, special badging and an illuminated charge port for $43,495.

GM hit the threshold of 200,000 plug-in vehicle sales in the spring of 2019 and since April 2020 has no longer been eligible for the federal tax credit. While that situation may change with the new administration in Washington, for now GM is at a significant cost disadvantage compared to many other brands like Nissan, VW, Hyundai and Kia. If as expected the cap on tax credits is raised and GM vehicles again become eligible, the Bolt would finally get down into the $25,000 range making it nearly price competitive with similar-sized gas vehicles.

The updated 2022 model retains all the mechanical and electrical bits, but adds a revamped face and substantially reworked interior to the base Bolt. The face is now more upright and features some of the signature design language found on models like the Blazer including slim horizontal running lamps near the upper edge and standard LED headlights below. 

While that appearance is now more in keeping with contemporary Chevrolet vehicles, the interior is where we spend most of our time with cars. Here, the Bolt has new front seats that are expected to be more comfortable and supportive than before. The dashboard is all new and now features soft touch surfaces and a generally more premium feel in keeping with the price tag. 

The central touchscreen remains at 10.2-inches along with the 8-inch gauge cluster directly in front of the driver. The center console has been completely redesigned with the shift lever now replaced with a push button layout a bit further forward and the cup holders just ahead of the arm rest. Previously, the shift lever featured an L position which engaged the strong regenerative braking mode. That has now been replaced with a more obvious one-pedal driving button that remembers its state each time you start the car. 

Adding a more crossoverish crossover

The biggest change for 2022 is the addition of the Bolt EUV. It’s not dramatically different in design from the standard Bolt, but adds three-inches of wheelbase and another three-inches of bodywork behind the rear axle. It’s only 0.2-inches taller than the standard Bolt and while the added length certainly gives a bit more of an SUV-like stance, it is quite literally nothing more than a stretch although there are no shared body panels between the two. . 

All of the important systems including the motors, power electronics and battery are exactly the same as the standard model. The extra length does add about 90-pounds which in turn cuts the range by about nine miles to 250, which is still plenty for almost all driving. The biggest advantage is the extra three-inches of rear leg room and a corresponding increase in cargo volume when the rear seats are folded along with the option of a sunroof. While larger than a Bolt, the EUV is still four-inches shorter than the recently launched Trailblazer. Also, unlike the Trailblazer and many other compact crossovers, the Bolt EUV remains front wheel drive only. 

Neither of the Bolts is yet adopting GM’s new Ultium battery system or powertrain. That won’t happen until a complete new generation arrives at some future date. The Bolts also haven’t been updated with GM’s next generation electrical architecture which means they don’t get over-the-air software updates for anything other than the infotainment system. 

Super-Cruising

In addition to the extra passenger space, there is one other major distinction between the pair of Bolts. The EUV is the first non-Cadillac model to offer GM’s Super Cruise, hands-free assisted driving system. This is a geofenced system that uses a suite of surround cameras and radar sensors to enable speed and lane centering control on over 200,000 miles of divided highways. The driver can take their hands off the steering wheel when the system is engaged, but they have to watch the road and there is an infrared camera to make sure they do. 

Unlike the second-generation Super Cruise debuting about now on the new Cadillac Escalade, CT5 and CT4, the version on the Bolt EUV doesn’t have support for automatic lane changing. That’s because it still retains the same older electrical architecture as the now defunct CT6. Nonetheless, despite its more limited capabilities, the original Super Cruise does the things it can very well and better than just about any other system available. 

Other upgrades that apply to both models are wireless support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a wireless phone charger standard on the EUV and optional on the base. The updated infotainment also supports apps like Amazon Alexa, Spotify and the Weather channel. The Chevy Safety Assist package is standard on both including Automatic Emergency Braking, Forward Collision Alert, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, Following Distance Indicator, IntelliBeam and Front Pedestrian Braking.

Charge Me Up

Both Bolts continue to include standard support for DC fast charging but the maximum charging rate remains the same 60 kW as the 2021 Bolt. That’s enough to add about 100 miles of range to the standard Bolt in half an hour or 95 for the EUV. 

The AC charging capability has been improved however and it now supports up to 11 kW from the previous 7.2 kW. Customers buying a Bolt who don’t already have a charger installed at home will also get some benefits with the new models. The charging cable that comes with the car is now a dual-level unit with an interchangeable plug. The standard three-pin connector can be used to charge from any standard 120V outlet. 

Those with a 240V outlet in the garage can also just plug in and charge at up to 7.2-kW without purchasing another charger. For first time EV buyers, GM is also teaming up with Qmerit to install a 240V outlet at no additional charge in homes that can support it. That offer is limited to those that have an electrical supply panel with enough capacity to support such a plug. Owners of older houses that need an upgrade will have to pay for that part of the installation themselves.

The new Bolts start production in the spring and should hit dealers by early summer.

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