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Chevrolet Bolt EV: The Affordable Electric Car That Doesn‘t Sacrifice on Tech or Performance

The electric vehicle market has exploded in recent years, with dozens of new models from both established automakers and EV startups alike. But for many car buyers, the high prices of most EVs remain a significant barrier to entry. That‘s where the Chevrolet Bolt comes in.

Introduced in 2017, the Bolt was GM‘s first ground-up electric vehicle design. Its mission was to provide long range, engaging performance, and cutting-edge tech features in an affordable, mass-market package. Now in its sixth model year, the Bolt has cemented its position as one of the best value EVs you can buy.

By the Numbers: Bolt EV Specs and Performance Metrics

Let‘s start with the Bolt‘s most important number: 259. That‘s the EPA-estimated number of miles the Bolt can travel on a single charge from its 65 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. To put that into perspective, here‘s how the Bolt stacks up against some of its closest competitors:

Model Battery Capacity EPA Est. Range MSRP
Chevy Bolt 65 kWh 259 miles $31,000
Tesla Model 3 50 kWh 263 miles $41,190
Hyundai Kona Electric 64 kWh 258 miles $34,000
Nissan Leaf 40 kWh 149 miles $27,400
Volkswagen ID.4 82 kWh 250 miles $39,995

As you can see, the Bolt offers one of the longest driving ranges in its class while undercutting most of its rivals on price by a significant margin. Only the base Nissan Leaf is cheaper, but its range is vastly inferior.

Powering the Bolt is a permanent magnet electric motor that produces 200 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque. Thanks to the instant torque delivery of the electric powertrain, the Bolt can scoot from 0-60 mph in a spritely 6.5 seconds. That‘s quicker than most gas-powered economy cars and plenty fast for confident merging and passing maneuvers.

The Bolt‘s battery pack and powertrain were developed in-house by GM, drawing on the company‘s decades of experience with EVs like the EV1 and Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid. "We spent a lot of time optimizing the battery cell chemistry and packaging to maximize energy density while maintaining safety and stability," said Mike Lelli, Chief Engineer for the Bolt EV.

Charging Options and Real-World Range

Of course, an EV is only useful if you can easily charge it. The Bolt offers several options for juicing up:

  • 120V portable charging cord (included): ~4 miles of range per hour
  • 240V Level 2 charging station: ~25 miles of range per hour
  • DC fast charging: Up to 100 miles of range in 30 minutes

For most owners, overnight charging at home using the included 120V cord or a 240V Level 2 station will be sufficient to replenish the battery for daily driving. On the occasions when longer trips are necessary, the Bolt‘s standard DC fast charging capability enables quick pit stops.

Chevrolet‘s Energy Assist feature within the myChevrolet app helps locate charging stations along a route and can initiate charging remotely. The in-car navigation system can also route you to compatible charging points when the battery runs low.

In real-world driving, many Bolt owners report being able to comfortably exceed the EPA range estimates, especially in city driving where regenerative braking helps recapture energy. "I‘ve been able to get over 300 miles on a single charge with careful driving," said Shannon Stahl, a Bolt owner from San Diego. "The guess-o-meter range display is pretty accurate, and I love being able to adjust the regen braking strength to suit my driving style."

Interior Tech and Infotainment

The Bolt‘s interior punches above its weight class in terms of design, materials, and technology features. Anchoring the dash is a bright, responsive 10.2" color touchscreen display that houses Chevy‘s Infotainment 3 system. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard for seamless smartphone integration, allowing drivers to access their favorite media and navigation apps.

Other notable tech features include:

  • Wireless phone charging
  • Configurable 8" digital instrument cluster
  • Surround-view parking cameras
  • Bose premium 7-speaker audio system
  • 4G LTE wifi hotspot

"I‘m constantly impressed by how intuitive and feature-packed the Bolt‘s infotainment system is," noted Chris Hannah, a Chicago-based Bolt owner. "I can use voice commands to change radio stations, make phone calls, or adjust the climate control without taking my hands off the wheel."

The Bolt‘s cabin is also surprisingly spacious for a compact car, with generous headroom and legroom for four adults. Cargo space is ample at 16.9 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 56.6 cubic feet with the seats folded. That‘s more than enough room for luggage, groceries, or home improvement supplies.

Advanced Safety Systems

The Bolt comes standard with Chevy‘s Safety Assist suite of advanced driver assist systems (ADAS). This includes:

  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Forward collision alert
  • Lane keep assist with lane departure warning
  • Front pedestrian braking
  • Following distance indicator
  • Intellibeam auto high beams

Optional safety features include blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, a 360-degree parking camera system, and adaptive cruise control. The Bolt has earned top marks in NHTSA and IIHS crash testing:

  • NHTSA overall safety rating: 5 stars
  • IIHS crash test ratings:
    • Small overlap front: Good
    • Moderate overlap front: Good
    • Side impact: Good
    • Roof strength: Good
    • Head restraints & seats: Good

"The Bolt‘s safety features give me peace of mind when commuting in heavy traffic," said Laura Chin, a Bolt owner from the Bay Area. "The automatic emergency braking has activated twice to avoid potential collisions, and the lane keep assist does a great job of centering the car if I start to drift."

Total Cost of Ownership and Maintenance

One of the biggest advantages of EVs is their low operating and maintenance costs compared to traditional gas cars. According to EPA estimates, the average Bolt owner will spend just $550 per year on electricity to charge the vehicle. That equates to about $0.92 per 25 miles. In contrast, fueling a gas car that gets 30 mpg would cost around $1,100 per year, assuming $3 per gallon gas prices.

Maintenance costs are also significantly lower for EVs due to the simplicity of electric powertrains. The Bolt has no oil changes, spark plugs, air filters, or timing belts that require regular service. Brake pads and rotors last longer thanks to regenerative braking. The battery and drive unit are covered by an 8 year/100,000 mile warranty.

A 2020 study by Consumer Reports found that EV owners spend about 60% less to power their vehicles than gas car owners. Over the life of the vehicle, this can add up to thousands of dollars in savings, helping offset the higher upfront cost of the EV.

Driving the EV Revolution Forward

Since its launch in 2017, the Bolt has been a key part of GM‘s ambitious plan to electrify its entire lineup. The Bolt platform served as the basis for the Bolt EUV crossover and has informed the development of upcoming EVs like the Cadillac Lyriq and GMC Hummer EV.

GM has sold over 100,000 Bolts globally as of 2021, making it one of the best selling non-Tesla EVs. It has helped expand the appeal and accessibility of electric cars beyond early adopters and enthusiasts.

"The Bolt‘s combination of range, value, and design has brought EVs into the mainstream," said Steve Majoros, Director of Chevrolet Marketing. "It has paved the way for the dozens of new EVs GM will launch in the coming years as we work toward an all-electric future."

Industry analysts believe the Bolt has been instrumental in accelerating the shift to EVs. "The Bolt proved that you could build an affordable, long-range EV that people actually want to buy," said John Voelcker, a longtime green car journalist and analyst. "It showed the big automakers that there was a real market for these vehicles beyond just California compliance cars."

The Verdict: An EV for the Masses

The Chevrolet Bolt isn‘t the flashiest, fastest, or most luxurious EV on the market. But it just might be the most well-rounded and accessible. It offers an unbeatable combination of long range, peppy performance, spacious interior, and advanced tech at a price that severely undercuts the competition.

With a starting MSRP of $31,000 (before available tax credits), the Bolt is within reach of many mainstream car buyers. And with its 259-mile range and fast charging capability, it‘s viable as a primary vehicle for most households.

No, you won‘t be beating Teslas at the drag strip or turning heads like a Porsche Taycan. But for the average commuter who wants to save money on gas and do their part for the environment, the Bolt is a compelling choice. It has brought the EV revolution to the masses.

As the charging infrastructure continues to expand and battery technology improves, the case for going electric will only get stronger. And cars like the Bolt will be leading the charge, making EVs accessible to more and more drivers.

If you‘re in the market for an affordable, practical, and technologically advanced EV, the Chevy Bolt should be at the top of your list. It‘s not just a great electric car – it‘s a great car, period.