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Chevrolet Bolt: Electric vehicle for the masses

  • Jan 26, 2016
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[caption id="attachment_91840" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Chevrolet-Bolt-EV-Exteriors-Front-Three-Quarters Chevrolet Bolt EV exteriors front three quarters[/caption]

Chevrolet recently displayed its all-electric Bolt at the North American International Auto Show at Detroit, US. According to the auto-giant, it'll be the most affordable electric car with a range of more than 320 km. The EV is stated to be launched in the US towards the end of 2016 as a 2017 model year car. So far, Tesla is the only electric car manufacturer that has been ticking all the boxes when it comes to EVs, except price. It is rumoured that Tesla is also working on something more affordable that'll be called the Model 3. From the looks of it, we can tell that the Bolt EV too is hitting the right chords and will be something Tesla needs to watch out for. Chevy's tagline for the car says, "All electric. All aboard." as it's going to be the first zero-emissions car with a livable range and will be offered at an affordable price of US $30,000 (approx. Rs. 20,41,000). Note that the announced pricing is after factoring in the Federal Tax Credit of US $7,500 (approx. Rs. 5,10,000) and states like California offer further benefits for choosing a green car.

The demo car's exteriors were much closer to the final design but the interiors are still a long way from production, which is why most of it was camouflaged. From the exteriors, the car seems to have very short overhangs with wheels practically placed on the corners. This makes the wheelbase longer leading to a spacious cabin with generous leg room for passengers. What was visible on the insides revealed that the dashboard is going to have a 'floating instrument panel' design. Based on the feedback received from existing customers, Chevrolet has provided a slot that can accommodate the largest of phones close to the shifter knob. This is done to keep coffee from spilling on the phone as most people are used to keeping their phones in the cup holder right next to the one holding the coffee. There'll be a spot to park a large tablet in the centre armrest, where a USB port is also provided for charging it.

[caption id="attachment_91844" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Chevrolet-Bolt-EV-Interiors-Dashboard Chevrolet Bolt EV interiors dashboard[/caption]

The infotainment system itself is a large 10.2" touchscreen with parts sourced from LG. The software is capable of running three different kinds of interfaces; Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and Chevrolet's home brewed software developed specifically for the electric car. This UI will incorporate vehicle specific statistics as well as all the media, telephony and navigation options, which can be accessed on the homescreen in as configurable widgets.

The connection between the phone and the infotainment system itself will be based on low energy Bluetooth called Keypass that'll allow the car to connect to the phone from a longer distance. This enables the connection between the phone and the car to be established before the driver even opens the door. There's the typical rear-view mirror, which cleverly hides a display. At the press of a button, the mirror turns into a rear-view camera display that mimics the functionalities of a regular mirror except that it has an 80° field-of-view compared to 20° of the mirror. While parking, the car gives the driver a bird-eye view of the car allowing it to be rolled in and out of parking lots by just looking at the screen.

The door sills are designed to be in line with the car's floor to enable easier ingress and egress. There's no transmission tunnel for the back seaters to worry about, which makes it easy to get in from one side of the car and slide over to get out of the other. The seats come with springs instead of foam for enhanced comfort and it also liberates 25mm of precious legroom for rear seat passengers.

[caption id="attachment_91842" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Chevrolet-Bolt-EV-Exteriors-Side-Profile Chevrolet Bolt EV exteriors side profile[/caption]

The Bolt gets a steering mounted 'regen on-demand' paddle that causes the regenerative braking to engage more aggressively and instead of just slowing down the vehicle to 5 km/hr, it has the ability to bring it to a a complete stop. For regular decelerations, it helps having a "brake" mounted behind the steering. If the driver uses it quite often, there's also a 'Low' mode on the shifter knob that electronically engages the 'regen on-demand' every time the foot is off the accelerator. This not only helps the brake pads last longer, it enables, what Chevrolet calls, 'one foot driving' while replenishing batteries through kinetic energy that'd otherwise be wasted. The car is also smart enough to know if the driver is leaving without engaging it in 'P' mode and toggles it electronically.

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For the number crunchers, it packs a 60kWh battery under the floor board that powers a 200 PS electric motor sending 360 Nm of twist to the front wheels. The beauty of all-electric torque is that it doesn't require the revs to build up before it's delivered in spades. Here, the motor delivers all of that torque from get-go and helping it reach the 100 km/hr mark in under 7.0 seconds. This kind of acceleration can easily be termed as sporty by Indian standards and one that rivals the upcoming VW Polo GTI's 6.7 seconds. The lower placement of the battery pack helps with lowering the centre of gravity, which is sure to lend the car road-hugging dynamics. Batteries weigh around 435 kg and will come with eight year and 1,60,000 km warranty. It'll take around nine hours to juice it up using a 240 V outlet from a completely depleted state, which is rarely going to happen given the long range of 320 km.

Bolt EV has the potential to change the electric vehicle landscape for good and we hope it does just that.

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