by Dean Adams Curtis
It’s official. The EPA has awarded the Bolt, GM’s electric vehicle coming to dealer showrooms this fall, with a class-leading 238-mile range. That rating beats Tesla’s anticipated best by 23 miles. And Tesla will only achieve their 215-mile range when their Model 3 debuts in late 2017, a year after the GM Bolt’s arrival.
The Bolt will also apparently beat the Tesla Model 3 price-wise. The Model 3 is anticipated to cost three times what the Bolt will.
GreenFamilyCar caught up with the Bolt EV in Detroit at the last auto show, where it was heralded, but stationary. And darn it, we missed the drive-down the California coast that GM threw for automotive journalists to show off the range-anxiety busting Bolt.
Therefore, we decided to discuss the Bolt now, sans test drive, to ask the question, is the Bolt the EV game-changer that GM execs say it is?
Using the above-noted Bolt EPA range as our jumping off point, we answer our question “Yes,” because when GM, the second largest vehicle manufacturer on the planet after Toyota, makes the highest mileage EV available, obviously it is a game changer.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s chat a bit about where the whole EV transition stands now.
To begin, let’s take one giant step back.
A hundred years ago, in the innovative early days of automotive history, EVs were favored by inventor Thomas Alva Edison, who powered up EV batteries on fleet delivery vehicles in cities with electricity from his centralized electrical power plants. A hundred years back it was by no means a certainty that the gasoline-powered internal combustion engine would win the day and become our sole automotive propulsion system for a century.
Fast-forward from Edison’s EVs to 15 years ago, when GM began leasing their all-electric EV1 vehicles. They were a very expensive, very limited offering, very much the vehicle of Hollywood celebrities and a few selected others. Then GM killed the EV1, cancelling all the leases, and crushing almost all the cars.
Taking one giant step forward back to today, only a small fraction of the cars and trucks sold in the world are electric. Internal combustion engines powered by gasoline have dominated the roads since oil was discovered in abundance in America and liberated early auto users by offering the possibility of cross continental travel.
Where has that gotten us? A recent New York Times article noted, “The average car wastes about 80 percent of the gasoline put into it…an electric vehicle uses about 90 percent [of its electricity] to actually move the car.” And while gasoline-powered vehicles waste an overwhelming percentage of their energy, they are simultaneously emitting harmful CO2 exhaust out their tailpipes into our shared atmosphere, helping to warm it.
Take one giant step forward, back to today. Remember we answered “Yes” when we asked ourselves if the Bolt was a game-changing EV.
Here’s an addendum. Sure, Tesla Model 3 purchasers will undoubtedly be able to match the GM Bolt’s range with the addition of a booster battery. But beyond that, something that Tesla’s founder Elon Musk has long hoped for, and that we and so many others have looked forward to for so long, has finally happened. The race to produce mass market electric vehicles for the U.S. market is on. All the major automotive manufacturers will now need to compete with the range of the GM Bolt. And this will greatly reduce any anxiety YOU, the potential EV buyer, has when you get behind the wheel of your first EV.
Here’s The Wall Street Journal list of EV ranges:
GM Bolt = 238
Tesla Model S = 215
BMW i3 = 114
Nissan Leaf SV = 107
Fiat 500e = 84
VW e-Golf = 83
Ford Focus EV = 76