Chevrolet Bolt - The Smart Commuter?

A smog station is one place you will never have to visit in your Bolt.

I’m not ready for an all-electric vehicle. Maybe if I was still working full-time and needed a commuter car an electric would make sense. I have an acquaintance who has a Bolt and uses it to commute and he loves it.

I have to say that outside of a Tesla the Bolt is the most common sense electric I know of. Fully charged it will go up to 238 miles. When I was working I commuted about 60 miles per day round trip so I would have only needed to charge up every three days. (I had no place to plug in at work.)

With a few exceptions the Bolt is like any other small car. It is a four-door hatch (someone said it looked like a mini-mini-SUV). The EPA says it is a “Small Wagon.” It will seat four comfortably, five adults in a pinch.

If you fold the rear seat down there is 56.6 cubic feet of storage but with the seats in use as seats that would be reduced to 16.9 cu. Ft.

The Bolt is a small car; it is just over 13.6’ long, 69.5” wide, and 62.8” high. It weighs 3,563 lbs. – those batteries are heavy.

Another acquaintance drove this very Bolt from Sacramento to Monterey, a distance of around 190 miles. He stopped along the way to recharge to be on the safe side. I drive to Monterey non-stop in a gasoline powered vehicle. Chevrolet says that if the battery is recharged using 240 volts it will fully recharge in two hours. Seems to me that adding even an hour to a normally two hour trip (for me) is not acceptable. Hence one of the reasons an electric car is not for me.

My house is not equipped to charge using 240 v and using 110 v was painfully slow to recharge; charging overnight did not bring the battery up to full charge. So if you buy an electric car invest in a 240 v charging station. When you travel you can usually find charging stations at many retail locations (malls, grocery stores, etc.)

With one exception driving the Bolt was like driving any small car. It’s peppy, easy to park, and quiet. The exception is the ride. To me it felt like a car with little suspension travel (if you’ve ever driven a car that was stiffly sprung you know the feeling). It seems to me that with today’s technology it should be possible to build a car that rode smoothly and supported the battery’s heavy load. It wasn’t uncomfortable but I felt it could be better.

I give Chevrolet high marks for making the Bolt a nice car. It looks good, and it is well outfitted (admittedly the test Bolt was a ‘Premier’ model).

Only having a test car for a week really doesn’t give me time to do real tests. Like how much does the hot (or cold) weather affect the length of the charge? To test the variables I’d have to have a Bolt when it is mild out and compare it to when it is really hot and the A/C is on all the time. And let me tell you I had the A/C on all the time I had the Bolt.

I like the idea of an electric car and I’m glad that so many companies are offering them. Maybe they will become as common as gas engine cars in time. But for now I’m not sure our infrastructure is ready for one in every driveway. PG&E threatens to turn off the power in certain grids if there is a danger of fire. What would you do if you’re electric car needed a charge and there was no power?

Then there is the question of where the power comes from. Thirty-two percent of California’s retail energy came from renewable sources last year. While that is good it still means 68% comes from non-renewables. Right now electric cars simply transfer the pollution from mobile sources (vehicles) to stationary sources (power plants).

I would suggest that every person who buys an electric vehicle convert their homes (and businesses) to solar power thereby decreasing the load on the power grid.

At one time price for an electric car was a stumbling block, they were too expensive. There are incentives from different governments that help defray the cost. And prices have come down, primarily because states like California have mandated a certain percentage of zero emission vehicles are sold.

The Bolt I tested had $1,730 in options and topped out at $42,635. The Bolt starts at $36,620. Yes that is a lot of money for a small car but you would be making a statement with an electric.


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