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Chevy Bolt First Impressions

Discussion in 'Electric Vehicles' started by CameronB, Jan 2, 2017.

  1. CameronB

    CameronB Member

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    Over the weekend, had a chance to see and drive a Bolt in person. Stepping back a bit, I am a Model 3 reservation holder that is on the fence between waiting for the "3" and jumping into an S before then. Anyhow, back to the story...

    First I call the large Chevrolet dealer in my area and I say do you have any Bolts? They ask if I am talking about the Volt or Bolt. I say "Bolt with a B". They say "We call that Bolt EV to make the distinction clear". IMO, a bad choice to have called two completely different cars almost the same name. In any event, if you need to check Bolt availability, do yourself a favor and say "Do you have any Bolt EVs in stock?" After I cleared up that I was looking to see and drive a Bolt EV, the woman on the phone informed me they had one to test drive but none to purchase at this point. With that, I headed to a Chevrolet dealer lot for the first time in my life.

    I must say that the dealer experience was VERY different than dealing with a Tesla store. It was packed with people. Not just customers but many, many salespeople and managers and such. Dozens. They were all wondering here and there and it just seems chaotic. Nobody helped me for a good 15 minutes (even though I wanted them to!).

    They had a waiting list to get test drives. I waited about 20 minutes for the car to come back and for it to be ready to check out. Here are my initial impressions:

    Exterior
    Small but sits a bit higher than the average small car (I guess they consider it a cross-over). Plain-jain looks in my opinion. Maybe that's a good thing for some people if you don't want to stand out in say the way that a Prius (especially the newest Prius) stands out. There is another (ICE) Chevy called a Spark and the Spark and the Bolt have a similar look. The Bolt I saw was painted the flaming orange/amber color.

    Interior
    The test drive Bolt was the "Premier" (as opposed to the base "LT") and as such had leather seats. And probably a few other things I didn't remember. Mainly it is the leather seats though. Interestingly although the seats are leather, they are manual - you pull the lever under the front of the seat to unlock the seat and slide it back and forth. Want to sit higher up? You pump a ratcheting lever on the left side of the seat and it cranks up the seat. So basically it works more like like an adjustable office chair. The salesperson said it was designed like that to "maximize range" by not needing to deplete the main battery to operate the seat motors. I'd assume the seats and interior would operate off of a 12V conventional battery rather than the main lithium ion pack?

    Seats themselves were OK. Nothing to write home about in terms of comfort but nothing negative either. Didn't sit in the back seat but saw the previous test drivers unload a car seat (they brought their baby on the test drive) and it appeared they maneuvered pretty easily so I think the back seat is OK size (but again I didn't really spend time checking out that aspect).

    "Trunk" space behind the back seat was quite small. Maybe two feet (ish) from hatch entry to the seat back. And quite shallow although there was a removable floor panel that at least made it capable of accepting something a little deeper. Where you would store that panel if you removed it to put said deeper something in your cargo area...I have no idea. The seats fold down. But basically you could either take a few medium suitcases OR two backseat passengers. But not both at the same time.

    Touch Screen
    Certainly not a competition for a Model S, but the Bolt had a similar setup in that there was a main larger (10" or so) touchscreen and you could also customize the display in the binnacle screen where most cars have their speedometer and fuel gauges. Was impressed enough with the customization and options. Again, not on par with the Model S and it's 17" screen, more apps and being able to run two apps split screen...but pretty good for what they could do on a 10" screen and a binnacle screen.

    "Transmission" controls
    Did not like the "shifter control. Although it looked and acted very much like a traditional transmission shifter, it seemed extremely anachronistic to me compared to the Model S. Stubby little shifter between the two front seats and you have Reverse, Drive and Low in addition to Park. I think for one of the operations (Reverse? "Neutral"?), you have to press the knob to the left and then move it up the left corner or something like that. Convoluted. Anyhow "Low" is the full regenerative setting.

    Driving it
    Certainly no Tesla, but the Bolt was still pretty fun to drive! The acceleration was better than many small ICE cars out there. Again, it's not Tesla quick but for the average person, I think they would be pleasantly surprised. Ride and noise quality was good, though the streets they instructed me to drive on were well maintained and devoid of potholes so it was hard to tell. First half of the test drive I was in "D" (conventional car simulation mode, basically. Similar to Tesla with "Creep" turned on and regen set to Normal). Second half was done in "L" (high regen mode. Similar to Tesla with "Creep" turned off and regen set to High). Regen effect was even stronger than Tesla. It could (at relative slow city traffic speeds) pretty much come to a complete stop using nothing but the regen. People talk about being able to do "one pedal" driving with a Tesla, but the Bolt actually does one petal driving even better.

    Other Takeaways
    If you order a Bolt, you can chose your trim level, maybe an option or two and your color. But even with reduced options compared to a Tesla, Chevy does not "build to order" your car, apparently. In other words if you order an "odd" combination, you may wait many months for the car whereas if you order a "popular" combination, you might get your car very much sooner. Having come from BMW (multiple cars, all custom specified) and having worked with Tesla where you are in a certain queue and have an estimated delivery date and can see the status of your car... I had forgotten that other brands don't necessarily do "build to order". With Chevy you can specify what you want but the dealer gets regular refreshed stock of Bolt EVs and there is no particular timeframe they can guarantee when the combination you ordered will come in (apparently). So the factory just makes what they make and sends them to dealers and eventually they will make all combinations and eventually your odd combination will get built and the dealer will match it to you after it arrives? So if 200 people order after you but they order the popular combination of options and colors, Chevy will just see a total number of orders (200) for say a blue Premier with X options and they see your single (1) car with some unpopular color and base trim...potentially all 200 of the people who ordered after you might get their cars before you get yours? It seems odd but that's what the salesman said (but admittedly I don't know if it's true).

    Bolt EV vs Model 3
    In a world where the Model 3 wasn't on the horizon, I'd say the Bolt EV would be a very compelling car for anyone looking for a longish range EV that couldn't afford a Tesla and/or wanted/needed a much smaller car. But we know that the Model 3 is on the horizon and it's going to be much more car at a similar price. I'm assuming base models here in both cases. We know that Model 3 (even base) will have access to the Supercharger network which is huge for anyone who does long road trips. And it will have the hardware for Autopilot and even full autonomy (though those will certainly be options that will cost more to activate). Still, having the hardware for AP and full autonomy and potentially other software unlockable options (faster charging, more battery capacity, etc) means that base Model 3 users will still get more "car" even if they don't/can't afford to unlock those options at time of purchase. Software unlockable features is a game changer as you can buy the car 'base' and enhance it (to some degree) over time as your budget and/or needs allow. That said, the Bolt EV is a nice effort by Chevy and hopefully they will sell well and also hopefully they will make them available to the rest of the country in the near future to prove it is not nearly a compliance vehicle.
     
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  2. jsmay311

    jsmay311 Member

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    Regarding the manual seats: as anyone with half a brain can tell you (I.e., not the salesman, apparently), the Bolt's designers didn't omit power seats because the power seat motors themselves would use so much energy that they'd reduce the car's range. Instead, GM enigineers will tell you it's about keeping weight down, which in turn helps efficiency and range.
    It's the same way on the Volt (to many owners' chagrin).
     
  3. Saghost

    Saghost Active Member

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    The seats will run on 12V - but that power ultimately comes from the big battery on any modern EV, by way of a DC DC converter that replaces the alternator.

    Having said that, the excuse given is pure b.s. - as the other poster said, not having power seats saves a little weight that helps with range slightly, but the power savings are insignificant and I really think it's about cost instead.
     
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  4. CameronB

    CameronB Member

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    I agree. I figure even a little regen will quickly recoup the tiny amount of power it takes to adjust a seat even if ultimately the "big battery" has to recharge the 12v one. I didn't hear the weight saving excuse from the salesman I spoke with, but that, too, sounds pretty hollow. Keeping costs down and maybe using existing seats from another low cost Chevy model sound more plausible. But just passing along what what I was told
     
  5. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    Power seats use an inconsequential amount of electricity. The salesperson either knowingly lied to you or was simply ignorant. GM put manual seats in the Bolt because they cost less.

    And a base Bolt will still cost thousands more than a Model 3 which I predict will have power seats standard.

    Did you ask the Chevy salesperson how to DC charge the car when driving 500 miles in a day?
     
  6. CameronB

    CameronB Member

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    Yeah, I know. I just played along. I have a feeling they might be told to play the "efficiency" card (either the saves weight route or the saves battery power route) when customers observe that it has manual seats (even on the "Premier" trim). On the other hand he could not know any better. He did quote the car as winning "Motor Sport's" car of the year award

    No I did not. I didn't want to play dumb nor really want to put him on the defensive. But they do kind of skip over the subject completely. I'd guess if you pressed they would probably say that the hybrid Volt would be a better car for you.
     
  7. CameronB

    CameronB Member

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    Forgot to mention that the car comes with a 120V level 1 charge cord. 240V level 2 is available as an option. The salesman never mentioned CHAdeMO or any other charging station options. Pretty much assumed all charging would be done through regular outlets mostly at home.
     
  8. brucet999

    brucet999 Active Member

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    So, charging a 60kWh battery from 10% to 90% SOC requires 48kWh of charge. That 120V outlet should be able to do the trick in a mere 25 hours. :)
     
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  9. CameronB

    CameronB Member

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    Apparently the option to be able to do "DC Fast Charging" is $750 and is not included in the car as standard (even in "Premier" trim)

    Again, salesman never mentioned anything about DC charging whatsoever. Perhaps other salespeople did but I can't speak to that.
     
  10. CameronB

    CameronB Member

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    One more kinda cool thing about interior of the Bolt EV was the rear view mirror...there is a switch behind it to toggle between traditional mirror and an LCD display of what a rear video camera sees. In daylight, the camera view was very clear and useful (it seemed quite wide angle) and I found it convenient to use/see up there where the rear view mirror was.

    However at night (which I also experienced as by the time I got to do the test drive it was about 5:30pm and darkish out) the rear view mirror/camera display was pretty useless. Salesman explained it was trying to do a "night mode" but it was a blurry mess and the display and/or camera didn't seem to handle freeway speed and darkness well at all. So switched it back to traditional rear view mirror mode whilst on the freeway at nighttime.
     
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  11. rjcbox

    rjcbox Member

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    What is the epa range?
     
  12. igotzzoom

    igotzzoom Supporting Member

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    I was initially interested in the Bolt [EV] but when I saw it in person at the L.A. Auto Show, I just couldn't get past the econobox styling. If I was looking for a purely utilitarian tool, then maybe I could accept it. Although I don't consider myself a vain or narcissistic person, I have to admit part of the appeal of the Model 3 is the aesthetics, style, and status of being a Tesla. I give GM credit for getting the Bolt to market as soon as it did, but I think the Model 3 will be far more successful at capturing the general public's imagination.
     
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  13. CameronB

    CameronB Member

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    238 I believe. The test drive vehicle I actually was driving was on target for about 200 or so for what it's worth (it was at 50% with about 105 miles of indicated range remaining when test drive was completed).

    I'd assume (but don't know for sure) that the 238 estimate assumes (exclusive?) use of the "L" (high regen) setting.
     
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  14. CameronB

    CameronB Member

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    Completely agree with all of the above.
     
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  15. wws

    wws Member

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    That is not quite how it works. One certainly can make a custom order through a dealer. However, like Tesla or any other automaker, it takes several weeks for the car to get scheduled, built, and delivered. Since dealers stock a lot of unsold cars, often times one can find a car that is reasonably close in content on the lot. If not, they can look at the inventory of nearby dealers and do a dealer swap to get it for you in a day or two. These days, you can find out who has what in stock via web sites. Ultimately up to you.

    When I bought our Volt last year, I pretty much knew what I wanted, though I was ambivalent about in-dash Nav ($495 MSRP.) It was kind of a feeding frenzy when the Gen 2 Volts came out. Everyone was trying to get one before the green stickers ran out, Costco had a great holiday deal going on, cash and private offer discounts galore, etc. One of the local dealers had the exact car - including Nav. So I went for it. (Glad I got the in-dash Nav, as I use it a lot.)
     
  16. mkjayakumar

    mkjayakumar Active Member

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    Reducing weight besides helping range, has other benefits such as, decreased wear and tear on your tires, suspensions etc.. So 150 pounds reduced is equivalent to having the ability to add an extra person with no range loss.
     
  17. CameronB

    CameronB Member

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    Agreed in general. But I kinda doubt that the electrical components that compromise two front electric seats would come anywhere close to 150 pounds. Admittedly I don't actually know for sure but I'd guess weight savings (and therefore range benefits) to be fairly low for just the seats themselves.
     
  18. McRat

    McRat Active Member

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    150 lb is not correct, as the 10 way power leather heated Silverado buckets are 82lb each.

    But 40-80lb savings is probably correct for a pair of seats.
     
  19. Bangor Bob

    Bangor Bob Member

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    #19 Bangor Bob, Jan 3, 2017
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2017
    No, it's just GM product planners being stupid. Possibly intentionally to make the vehicles less attractive vs. their ICE cousins. The Cruze that the Volt borrowed everything else from can be had with power seats, likewise the Sonic/Trax the Bolt borrows from. The ELR had power seats, but for the sticker's $70k, it damned well better have had them.
     
  20. McRat

    McRat Active Member

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    So the Ferrari 458 Italia had manual seats to try and get you to buy the California?

    The 2 door ELR is 500lb heavier than the Bolt. The ELR is smaller inside.

    It is ~1000lb lighter than a new Model S 60kWh which all aluminum and polymer.

    It weighs ~250lb less than 2011-2015 Volt, even though the Bolt is internally larger and a more powerful car. It weighs about the same as the 2017 Volt which again, is smaller and less powerful.

    How would you shave more weight off a car?
     

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