2020 Chevrolet Bolt
As we hear more and more on the automotive media in the last couple of months, General Motors (GM) is determined to build an all-electric future. GM promises to launch up to 30 new global electric vehicles by 2025. GM under Marry Bara, its CEO deploys big resources in design, engineering, battery and manufacturing technology and software to capture different segments of the EV market. This year, we already saw two impressive examples; Cadillac Lyriq and GMC Hummer EV. These models will be launched in 2022. However, GM is already an important player in the EV market. The compact Bolt, the subject of this review, developed in cooperation with LG and is on the market since 2017. The Bolt is one of the early examples of BEVs with a reasonable range.
20 years ago, electric cars were just a dream. There were few attempts but they haven’t had the level of technology to be the mainstream. In 2020, that’s not the case anymore. Chevrolet Bolt, which is one of the well known small electric cars of the modern era, may not be an expensive Tesla replacement, but it can easily replace your gasoline-powered small car and lets you save money on the commute.
Gasoline engines have come to the point where they maxed out. Manufacturers are trying their best to keep up with stricter regulations, while still being competitive. In 15 to 20 years, sales of ICE vehicles will be banned in most countries in the EU and most first world countries. They tried to downsize, put forced induction, direct injection and so on, but at the end of the day, you still have to spend at least 7.0 L of gas every 100 km. Can an electric car like the Chevrolet Bolt end this 100-year of internally combusted engine era? In this review, we’ll explain why this is the beginning of the end of gasoline engines.
Exterior and Interior
First things first, the 2020 Chevrolet Bolt is a small budget car. It is meant for cities more than the highways. Though it has fake vents in the front end design, they are purely for decorative purposes. Other than that, it has big LED headlights, and “big” 17″ rims that make it look attractive, by electric car standards. From the outside, it does not show it’s “electrics” too much, only a few EV badges and electric charging port on the left front fender.
Unlike most ugly electric cars, Chevrolet spent their time to make it look modern and attractive. This is one of the better looking small electric cars available on the market. The Rear-end design looks even better than the front, in my humble opinion, looks very premium. There are nice body lines all around the car that makes it look like one piece, and 17″ rims look very nice.
When you get inside the 2020 Chevrolet Bolt, you immediately feel this is a small car. That does not mean it has a small space, but the seating position makes you feel that you are on top of the car, more than in it. It comes with a huge gauge cluster as well as an infotainment screen. I am personally a fan of Chevrolet’s infotainment system, they may not be the absolute best, but very good almost in every segment. There is little to no input lag and it is a very user-friendly system that you get familiar with quickly.
Of course, no car is perfect. Though this is a “small” car, it is also a budget car and this is where you feel that Chevrolet had to cut the corners in the interior to keep the price reasonable level. It is completely hard-touch plastic except for the steering wheel, armrest and door panels – where you touch on a daily basis. The console has two different colours, which makes it look very nice and modern, but you should not expect premium quality from the Bolt. Other than that, colour and material choice are very good and make the car look more upscale.
2020 Chevrolet Bolt may not compete with SUVs when it comes to cargo accommodation, but it is definitely one of the best when it comes to cargo practicality in the small electric car segment. It comes standard with 478 lt – 16.9 cubic feet of cargo space, and it can go up to 1602 lt – 56.6 cubic feet when you fold the rear seats down. The battery is located in the middle of the car, so you are not sacrificing the cargo space.
Engine and Drivetrain
The 2020 Chevrolet Bolt only has an electric motor that produces 200 horsepower and 266 ft-lb of torque. Unlike gasoline engines, 266 ft-lb of torque is available instantly. In 2020, Chevrolet decided to upgrade the battery pack, now it comes with a 66 kwh battery, instead of 60 kwh. 200 horsepower may not sound crazy, but the fact that having 266 ft-lb of torque readily available makes it feel much faster. The engine is made in South Korea by LG, as a result of the partnership.
Like many other electric vehicles, the motor is integrated with a single-speed transmission and open differential. This means that both the motor and transmission does not require any kind of maintenance. In fact, you don’t even have to use the brake pedal, as you can change it to regen mode, which acts like “engine braking” that you don’t have to do anything, the car will stop for you as soon as you let off the gas.
Driving Impressions and Features
Driving impressions about the 2020 Chevrolet Bolt is very positive, as long as you know the fact that it is an electric car designed and engineered primarily for city driving. It is definitely not a highway cruiser, and it does not really like high-speed driving, no surprises there. Tall design and heavy battery packs usually mean this car has a higher center of gravity, so it’s definitely not a corner carver. Granted, battery packs are located at the very bottom, which helps to lower the center of gravity. However, if you are heavy on the gas throttle, it will not save you from getting excessive torque steering.
If you take long trips or do highway driving a lot, you may not get the most out of the Bolt as you rarely use the regen feature. However, in the city, it can be very good in terms of the total range. Our tests show that our average electric consumption was 18.0 kwh / 100 km, whereas on the highway it goes up to 22.0 kwh / 100 km. It can technically go up to 380 km per charge, but we were usually getting around 280-340 kilometres per charge due to the cold weather.
Speaking of range, we need to talk about the charging options. Yes, there are many charging stations available around the city, and those are usually fast charger. However, what if you charge it at home? If you don’t have the infrastructure for electric cars, it may take a long time. In 12 hours, the battery went from 30% to 65% with a standard household charge. If you drive your car on a daily basis and put a lot of mileage, we would highly recommend installing a fast-charging option. With a level 2 fast charger, the charging time is rated at 9-10 hours.
Driving the 2020 Chevrolet Bolt feels like you are driving a small and tall hatchback with no engine sound. The throttle response, as expected, is immediate. Brake feels very neutral, which is very surprising for an electric vehicle. However, the steering feeling is numb, and excessive torque steering makes it even more challenging if you drive it spiritedly. Thankfully, you get the most important feature of the modern era, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. However, you are missing adaptive cruise control and auto brake hold features. If you are sure about getting an electric car, this shouldn’t be a deal-breaker for you.
Conclusion and the Verdict
2020 Chevrolet Bolt is an interesting vehicle in GM’s huge vehicle lineup. It’s definitely not the top seller, but since 2017, sales numbers have been increasing slowly but surely. When it’s first introduced, it was named the 2017 North American Car of the Year and was listed in Time Magazine as the Best 25 Inventions of 2016. The Bolt and her discontinued sister with range-extender, Volt, will be an important part of the electric/with or without range extender car history. However, the problem is, almost all manufacturers are focused on electric vehicles and going forward the competition will be even more intense.
Yes, the future is here. If you want to be a part of the future, you are looking at a starting price of $44,998. There are 2 trim options and the top trim is priced at $50,298. The price may seem high for a small compact car, but it is on par with the competition. I would definitely consider the 2020 Chevrolet Bolt if I was living in core downtown Toronto, or any other big cities as stop and go traffic would be a huge part of the driving experience.
At the end of the day, you not only eliminate the gas expense, but also maintenance costs. There is no oil change, no spark plugs, or a head gasket that you need to be worried about in the long term. However, the price is still very high compared to a small hatchback with a gasoline engine.
There are provincial and federal tax incentives for electric vehicles. Canadians who purchase electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids are eligible for a government incentive of $2,500 to $5,000. Those incentives would be applied by dealerships. As of 2020, only British Columbia and Quebec offer Provincial incentives on top of government incentives, which makes it an even better deal if you can take advantage of both.
For details of pricing and specifications, please see the window sticker below:
For more details, please go to www.chevrolet.ca
Article and Photos by Dan Gunay