IT can go more than 200 miles on battery power and it costs less than the average new vehicle in the US But in an era of $2 per gallon gasoline, the Chevrolet Bolt probably won’t do a whole lot to shift America from gasoline to electricity.
General Motors has started making Bolt hatchbacks on a slow assembly line at a factory in Orion Township, Michigan, north of Detroit.
The cars, starting at $37,495 before a $7,500 federal tax credit, will go on sale in California and Oregon before the end of the year, and will spread to the rest of the country next year. The average sales price of a new vehicle in the US is about $34,000, according to Kelley Blue Book.
Analysts say the Bolt’s 238-mile range on a single charge, plus a net price of around $30,000, should make it an attractive alternative to cars with internal-combustion engines.
Chevrolet believes the Bolt is a game-changer. “It becomes just a mainstream vehicle choice,” said Darin Gesse, the Bolt’s product manager.
GM, he said, set out to make the range about equal to a half-tank of fuel in a gas-powered car. With a half-tank of gas, most people don’t worry that they have to refuel for a while and are comfortable driving, he said.
In a quick drive Friday on roads near GM’s technical center north of Detroit, the car accelerated quickly when compared to a gas car. GM says it goes from zero to 60 mph in about 6.5 seconds, which is faster than many muscle cars from the ‘70s and ‘80s. The handling was tight with very little body roll, yet the ride was smooth and quiet.
GM beat rival Tesla to market with a long-range affordable electric car by at least a year. Tesla plans to start delivering its 200-mile, $35,000 Model 3 in the second half of next year, and it had 373,000 deposits as of May.
The carmaker hasn’t revealed exactly when the first customer will get a Bolt. Chevrolet didn’t take advance reservations but says there’s been strong interest at its dealerships. (AP)