Charging the Chevy Bolt EUV (not for free) at General Motors HQ in Detroit. photo credit: Tanya Gazdik/MediaPost
Consumers looking for an affordable electric vehicle with a ton of technology and safety features will find a lot to like about the Chevrolet Bolt EUV.
I recently spent a week with the “premier” trim level package, which is full of niceties like leather heated seats, a heated steering wheel and wireless Apple Car Play and Android Auto (a word about that later). Notably, it also included General Motors’ highly lauded Super Cruise semi-autonomous handsfree driving technology, which requires a subscription.
The vehicle’s Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price on the vehicle I tested is $37,885, including destination charges.
But wait for it: The Chevy Bolt is one of only a handful of vehicles that will be eligible to receive the full $7,500 Clean Vehicle Federal Tax Credit, which is based on the vehicle price, where it is assembled and where the battery is made.
That brings the cost down to just over $30k. That is an exceptionally good deal for what you are getting with this vehicle.
I enjoyed the Super Cruise immensely -- it works like a dream in stop-and-go city traffic. That was once I got over the fact that unlike the Cadillac Escalade and GMC Hummer, it does NOT include automatic lane changing. For a $2,200 option, it would be nice to have the fully functioning package, but as it is, it’s still a huge reducer of vehicle driving stress.
The wireless Apple Car Play mostly worked well. I had some connectivity glitches on the last day of the test drive which might have been due to the vehicle needing to go into the dealership for a software update. While over-the-air updates (which can be done at home during a vehicle’s downtime) are becoming more common, they can’t be used for the bigger data imports.
The Bolt is likely to be one of the last General Motors electric vehicles to have Apple Car Play and Android Auto, since the automaker recently announced it would stop offering it in new electric vehicles, shifting instead to built-in infotainment systems developed with Google. Count me as one of thousands of consumers hoping GM will reconsider this ill-advised move.
One ding is the lack of a tailgate with power and remote lift. It’s one of those things that once you’ve had it and used it, it’s difficult to imagine life without it. But it’s probably not a deal breaker, given the price of the vehicle. And I just discovered you can add an aftermarket retrofit of the technology for around $700, so there’s that.
I didn’t take any long trips so I was able to easily keep the car with about 100 miles of electric range at all times, thanks to my slow 120 volt Level 1 home charger and a few quick trips to the Level 3 fast chargers, including General Motors headquarters in downtown Detroit. I had been wanting to check out those chargers, and since I finally had a General Motors EV, it seemed appropriate.
But one of the two public fast chargers in front of GM was out of order when I tried to use it last week. Thankfully the other one was working and not occupied.
It’s kind of ironic, given the ongoing widespread complaining from consumers about the problems with EV chargers often not being available or operable. Indeed, three of the fast chargers at the Meijer grocery store near me were also out of service last week.
At GM HQ, I spent $4.35 for 19 minutes of charging and 5.86 KWh, including a 99 cents transaction fee. That brought me up to 80% of a full battery. Because of the way batteries are designed, charging that last 20% takes forever, so a public charger isn't the place to do it.
Despite a still struggling charging infrastructure, consumers are indicating they are more receptive to the idea of considering an EV.
Search volume for terms containing “electric” on CarMax.com doubled from February 2022 to February 2023, according to CarMax’s used EV consumer buying behavior data report.
The top five most popular electric vehicles at CarMax are the Tesla Model 3, Tesla Model Y, Nissan Leaf, Ford Mustang Mach-E, and the Chevrolet Bolt EV. Last year most searched were Tesla Model 3, Nissan Leaf, BMW i3, Chevrolet Bolt EV and Tesla Model X.
Another consumer survey conducted by Mini USA and commissioned by Engine's Caravan reveals that almost half of those surveyed plan to purchase an electric vehicle in the next five years.
The survey shows that a majority of consumers (58%) would not consider an electric vehicle purchase unless it was equal to or cheaper than a gas-powered vehicle.
Surprisingly, the opposite is true for young consumers, aged 18 to 34, in particular. Among this age group, 56% of respondent are willing to pay more for an electric car compared to just 33% for consumers aged 45 to 64.
But with the Chevy Bolt EUV, they wouldn't have to.
EVgo's "Rick" charger was out of order in front of General Motors HQ last week, but the charger named "Barb" was operable. Photo credit: Tanya Gazdik/MediaPost