For years now Elon Musk, Tesla CEO, has been talking about building a less expensive electric car, one that everyone (that is, everyone with $30,000) can afford.  The goal was to keep the price low and go at least 200 miles on a charge.  And now it has come true.  The only problem is Tesla didn’t build it, Chevy did.  Chevy claims the new Bolt will be available later this year which means it could beat the Telsa 3 to market by a year or more.  The good news for Elon Musk is, just because Chevy did it first, doesn’t mean they did it right.

At first glance the Bolt looks like a more attractive version of the BMW i3 – not exactly a high bar to hurdle.  As a former Volt owner I have a pretty good idea of one area where Chevy may have gone wrong – visibility, especially to the rear, appears to be awful.  A tiny rear window, wide rear side pillars and a steeply sloping front window probably won’t add up to good visibility.  Apparently Chevy is aware of this as they offer an optional package that provides a 360-degree camera view around the Bolt.


The Bolt is a 4-door hatchback and in size somewhat comparible to the Chevy Sonic.  It’s 5″ longer than the Sonic,  1.2 inches wider, and taller by 3.1 inches. It’s also heavier by about 680 pounds.  Unfortunately, the Bolt, even though longer, wider and taller than the Sonic has less cargo capacity.  (the Bolt has a cargo capacity of 16.9 cu-ft, the Sonic 19 cu-ft.)  On the other hand, even though it is a foot shorter than the Chevy Volt, it has more cargo capacity (the 2nd generation Volt has only 10.6 cu-ft).


GM claims the 200-hp electric motor will give the Bolt a 0-60 time of under 7 seconds with a range more than 200 miles.  Preliminary specifications for the battery pack are:

  • 60 kWh lithium-ion
  • 288 lithium ion cells
  • Five sections
  • 10 modules
  • 96 cell groups – three cells per group
  • 960 pounds (435 kg) total weight
  • 160 kilowatts peak power

The battery pack is coupled to a standard equipment 7.2 kW onboard charger for regular overnight charging from a 240-volt outlet.  Chevy claims a typical commute of 50 miles can be recharged in less than two hours. The Bolt EV also features an optional DC Fast Charging system using the industry standard SAE Combo connector. Using the DC Fast Charging system, the Bolt EV battery can be charged up to 90 miles of range in 30 minutes (depending on the outside temperature).

The cells are arranged in a “landscape” format and each measures in at only 3.9 ins. (100 mms) high and 13.1 ins. (338 mms) wide providing improved packaging underfloor. The lower profile cell design enabled the vehicle structure team to maximize interior space.


The Bolt EV battery will be covered by an 8-year/ 100,000 mile (whichever comes first) limited warranty.  Chevy predicts the Bolt will be available in  late 2016 as a 2017 model.

2017 Chevy Bolt 2016 Nissan Leaf S 2016 BMW i3
MSRP (Not inc. dest. fee) $37,500* (est.)  $29,010* $42,400*
Horsepower  200  107  170
Torque (Ft. Lbs.@ Max RPM)  266 lb-ft  187 lb-ft  250/184 lb-ft
Battery Capacity 60 kWh 24 kWh 22 kWh
Range 200 miles (estimated)  84** miles (city/highway)  81** miles
On Board Charger 7.2 kW  3.6 kW  7.4 kW
Charging Time (240v Level 2) 9 hours (approx.)  8** hours  4** hours
Weight 3580 lbs.  3256 lbs.  2860 lbs.
Length (inches) 164.0  175.0  157.0
Wheelbase (inches) 102.4  106.3  101.0
Width (inches) 69.5  69.7  70.0
Height (inches) 62.8  61.0  62.0
Headroom (front/rear) 39.7″ / 37.9″  41.2/37.3  39.6/37.2
Legroom (front/rear) 41.6″ / 36.5″  42.1/33.3  N.A.
Cargo volume (cu. ft.) 16.9  23.6  15.1
Wheels 17″ x 6.5″ 16″   19″ x 5.0″
Top Speed (miles per hour) 91  93 94
Sound system 10.2-in. MyConnect touch-screen display NissanConnectSM with Mobile Apps and 5.0″ color monitor, four speakers AM/FM CD player, four speakers, auxiliary audio jack, USB 2.0 port
Bluetooth Standard Standard Standard
Headlights LED Halogen LED
Air conditioning Automatic climate control Automatic climate control Automatic climate control
Passengers 5 5 4
Fold-down rear seat Standard Standard Standard
Steering wheel mounted audio/Bluetooth controls Standard Standard Standard

*Before any applicable tax credits.