Motor Trend was interested in gauging Tesla owner feedback on a just released Chevy Bolt EV article they just published. A few weeks prior to this EVent, Motor Trend, along with other members of the automotive media got a chance to take the Chevy Bolt EV on some impressive long distance driving from Monterey to Santa Barbara along PCH.
As one of the organizers of the Tesla Owners Club of Orange County, I know a LOT of local Tesla owners and membership interest is a mix between those that enjoy Tesla for all the Eco and Green things and those that enjoy it for all the performance things and some for the luxury things. It’s a mixed bag, but members range the gamut from either or all of these interests. So, with short notice, I sent a note for our members on a Thursday to see how many would be interested in possibly seeing and riding in the Chevy Bolt EV in exchange for being interviewed by Motor Trend for their opinion on the car.
We got a few “takers”, including this writer. (A chance to check out a new EV that can go 236 miles on a full charge? No way am I turning THAT down.)
So, a few things we learned of the crowd that was there. Most were Tesla owners and had reservations for a Model 3. There was one person that joined us who is an i3 (with REX) owner who also had two Model 3 reservations. Of the Tesla owners, we had mostly Model S owners, one Model X owner, and several Roadster owners.
So, how does it look? Here it is among some classic Model S
And a nice Roadster joined the party. Our Model X member was here early and took off before we can get the picture.
I have a bias for Tesla and most things Tesla. However, I root for all EVs, but we’ve put our money behind Tesla. Both as a customer as well and an investor. I believe in what Tesla stands for and as much as it pains me that Elon has stated that he would like to see more EVs, even if it means that Tesla stock takes a hit.
Well, the Chevy Bolt EV is a good swing at Tesla and the Model 3. It’s a solid car. Not a luxury car by any definition, but it’s a long-range EV with seating for five (or four and a half if you look at how small the back seat is.)
But the back seat is definitely big enough for your author and one and a half more people.
The seats may not be that big, but the USB charging in the back is a nice touch.
One of our participants showed up with his baby and we tested the baby seat in there.
It’s a pre-production car, so the anchors were not there and the baby carrier was strapped in “old school” using the seatbelts.
I’m guessing she’s the only baby to have taken a ride in the Bolt EV at this time.
So the key to the Chevy Bolt EV looks like a regular key, not nearly as playful as Tesla’s “car shaped keys.”
The interior of the car isn’t what I would call luxurious, but it definitely is functional and solid. And for those that want to run a CD or even a cassette deck in the car, you can. There is an AUX port in the one delivered for the testers. (Yes, this is a concern. Check out this thread on Model3Ownersclub.com)
The trim level that was brought out was the higher trim level and I wonder what one loses with the lower trim level. At the same time, I wonder how much higher than the $37,495 base trim price this one is. The front of the Bolt EV is pretty comfortable. I don’t think that the seats were leather, they were probably “leatherette”, not sure if they’re vegan friendly though.
The controls and displays in the Bolt EV is a mix of modern and traditional. The infotainment display is slightly larger than the Leaf SV or SL (Acenta or Tekna in the UK), I believe. And there are many traditional controls for many of the functions. One thing missing is a built-in GPS and navigation controls. The vehicle uses the Apple and Google solutions (Carplay and Auto) to project the latest smartphone’s offering to the display rather than use one independent of your mobile device. So, keep those phones current, charged, and in those ecosystems. This is not the first time I’ve experienced this behavior. It seems that my sister’s new Volkswagen E-Golf does the same thing. Considering your author’s primary mobile device is a Blackberry, this is not a preferred method of navigation for my vehicles. I do carry an oft-photographed older iPhone, but I don’t believe that is CarPlay compatible.
The driver’s front display is similar to the Model S in that it is also just a big screen.
On this view from the driver’s seat, you can see that rated miles for the driver and what the car estimates is your current range. This is a function of both the driver’s style and current conditions and the charge on the battery. I don’t remember how many miles of driving conditions it uses to predict for remaining range. As I’ve experienced in many other EVs, the manufacturers algorithms can improve with each iteration and the more one drives the car, the better this algorithm is at predicting its own range.
I’ve grown to like the touchscreen controls on the S, but there is something to be said about physical buttons. Remember, I still carry a Blackberry. 😲
Here is the infotainment screen on the car.
A regular sized glove compartment. With no gloves (I wonder how many people actually carry gloves in their glove compartments?) (Sheldon Cooper of Big Bang Theory doesn’t count anymore as is evidenced by recent episodes in 2016.)
There doesn’t seem to be much space in the trunk, so it’s good that the car is a hatchback. Another thing that people looking at Model 3’s had an issue with originally. (Size of the trunk/that it’s not a hatchback.)
However, like the Active E or Model S, the Bolt EV has a shelf underneath the rear floor. That’s a good place to carry cables and adapters. Something that is more critical for ex-North American market. In North America, we’ve standardized on J1772 for public Level 2 charging and the cables are attached to public chargers. In other parts of the globe, the charging posts have outlets that the EV driver has to use their own cables to attach to and the standards are not nearly as defined. So, a European driving the Opel Amper-E (their version of the Bolt EV) will need to have a different L2 cable depending on the outlet that they’re plugging into.
It’s a pretty solid build. Close the hatch, and it closed nicely. The whole thing seems fit and finished.
Here’s a picture of the wheel and tires that came with this trim.
So, what’s in the front? Because there isn’t a frunk. The motor is in the front, not in the back like single motor Teslas.
Let’s take a look under the hood (bonnet for our friends that speak the Queen’s English.)
Ooh, aah… I don’t know what that is, but lots of stuff.
I know what that one is… I have that in the front of the Model S… (washer fluid.)
The fuse box is in the front, and inside the hood. That’s interesting. This fuse box was closed, someone opened it and exposed the fuses, so I took a picture.) Looks like the 12V is a standard one too.
As we mentioned earlier, the Bolt EV we looked at had a higher trim, so it includes the CCS charging.
Now, our group of owners all were asked AFTER seeing the car, but before riding in it if we would cancel our Model 3 reservations and get a Bolt EV instead. Not one of the Tesla owners that had a Model 3 reservation raised our hand. The i3 owner, who has two Model 3 reservations, might consider cancelling one of his reservations and his reason was because he likes hatchbacks and the Model 3, as it was announced, does not have a hatchback and instead has a controversial trunk.
Here’s a picture of most of the members that attended this pop-up Orange County Tesla EVent. We have several Roadster and Model S owners in this shot. The one Model X owner who showed up had left earlier.
The folks that participated in this activity had a good time, and you can see me laughing when I was talking to our folks. (That’s me, the brown guy in the Aloha shirt.)
We shot a few videos during the event. I unfortunately forgot to save the videos locally when I did it on Periscope, so here’s hoping that those guys don’t delete it.
Here is Motor Trend getting the Bolt EV ready for the drive and recording the folks riding in them.
Here is a view of me in the car riding off with the writer.
And here is the view from within the car for the ride.
View from the backseat of the Bolt EV
One of the cool things that the car has is this switch in the rear-view mirror. This switch toggles between acting as a mirror and a rear-view camera monitor to provide the driver with a wider view of the rear. Watch the video above to see it placed in action.
We’ve compared the Bolt EV beside the Tesla Roadster and Model S… But, it’s really better to compare the size of the Bolt EV to a BMW i3. It was good to get a BMW i3 owner to come out and join us on this event as those two cars really look about the same size.
However, I always feel like I’m “riding high” on an i3 and I didn’t feel this so much on the Bolt EV.
So, someone with an i3 in their garage can easily move from their i3 to the Bolt EV, just have to remember that the plugs are on opposite ends of the car. The Bolt EV’s plug is in the front driver side and the i3 has it in the rear of the car.
Both of those EVs are still bigger than a Roadster.
Though you wouldn’t be able to tell from this angle.
So, what do I think of the Bolt EV? I actually think that it’s a better fit for my mom and her lifestyle. I tried to convince her to change her Model 3 reservation, or at least one of her Model 3 reservations to a Bolt EV. She quickly rebuffed me and said, “I’ll keep my Tesla.”
The challenge is those that want a Tesla Model 3 are doing so not just to drive a long-distance EV. It’s because the Tesla has become an aspirational brand. The Model 3 is to Tesla as the 1 or 3 series is to BMW. It is the “entry-level” car to get folks into the “luxury” car segment. Granted, there is a certain “relativism” in how one defines luxury, but to many in the public, Tesla is it. How many of the 300k+ reservations are going to move to GM and the Bolt EV? I believe some, just not sure “how many.”
To see more pictures of the Bolt EV that I have taken, including the shots from this day, head to my flickr album look for the same colored Bolt EV for this event.