The Chevy Bolt EV was just declared the North American Car of the Year. But who’s actually buying the car? We talked to GM’s Darin Gesse, Senior Manager Chevrolet Product Strategy at General Motors, about the Bolt EV, Chevrolet’s future plans in the electric and autonomous car segments, and more, here at the Detroit Auto Show 2017!
The Bolt EV was launched last year, and the reception has been incredible, not only by the media, but more importantly, by the customers. Since its availability in December, users have been very satisfied with the car they’ve received, with factors like the price point, electric range, and all the technology behind it being big positives.
For many, the Bolt EV isn’t a great electric car, but just a great car itself. Deservedly so, the Bolt EV won the North American Car of the Year award at the show. For now, the Bolt EV is available in California and Oregon, but as Chevrolet rolls it out to more markets across the US, the customer accolades and positive reviews will go a long way in making this vehicle in a popular choice in these other places as well.
One of the special features of the Bolt EV is called “one pedal driving,” which basically a different selection in the transmission, that allows the car to start decelerating as you lift off of the throttle, and helps you avoid having to use the brake pedal at all. This feature allows for a more comfortable and more efficient drive, and helps boost the electric range by 5-10% as well.
All the smartphone technology enthusiasts out there will appreciate the fact that the Bolt EV comes with support for Android Auto and Apple Car Play. Chevrolet decided to go this route and not build their own navigation and on-board dash system for the comfort of the users, who will prefer the look and feel of what they’re used to on their smartphones, instead of having to learn a whole new system from scratch.
While the initial sales of the Bolt EV have catered to tech enthusiasts, Chevrolet is now seeing a lot more interest from regular customers as well, those who have waited for the reviews before making the decision to pick up the car. As mentioned, the positive reviews so far have been a big help in this regard.
The Chevrolet philosophy on charging stations is that they wanted to build a car that can take advantage of the charging stations that are already available today. To do this, they’ve adopted the SAE standard J1772 plug coupler which is the standard that the majority of car manufacturers and charging stations are using.
This also helps charging station developers create something for maximum usage, instead of having to equip their charging stations with proprietary plugs. We can take any car to any gas station and fill up, regardless of the brand of the car or the fuel company, and that’s how things should be with electric charging stations as well.
We are seeing a lot of autonomous cars that are being showcased now, and should be more readily available in the market by 2020, and the Bolt EV is a car that is ready to make the transition. The car comes with electric power steering, throttle by wire, and electronic shifting, all of which can be controlled by a computer, and that will easily allow for autonomous driving to be set up.
Speaking about the future of the Bolt EV, Darin sees its best use in ride sharing situations, and Chevrolet already has a partnership in place with Lyft. Even in the retail and general customer space, the Bolt EV provides a total mileage that is about 5 times what the average consumer drives in a day, so not having to worry about gas and being able to refuel at home when you need to really enhances the ownership experience, and makes it much easier to adopt electric vehicles.
While there is a continued focus on bringing to cost of batteries down and increase the range on a single charge, the point of interest right now is to focus of DC fast charging. This will allow for the car to get up to 90 miles of mileage after a charge of just half an hour, and close to 160 miles with a charge of an hour, and this help electric vehicles like the Bolt EV the go to for long distance travel as well.
In the hybrid and electric space, Chevrolet currently has three different type of vehicles on offer. The Volt and the Malibu are hybrid sedans, while the Bolt EV is a fully electric crossover type car. Chevrolet is going to keep a track of customer reactions to all three offerings and expand their portfolio accordingly.
What do you think of the Chevrolet Bolt EV? Share your thoughts in the comments section below, don’t forget to check out the full interview in the video above, and stay tuned with Charged as we continue to bring you more great coverage from the Detroit Auto Show 2017!