200-mile range for about $30,000American fans of electric vehicles who don't live in California or the other states who have adopted the California Air Resource Board (CARB) rules on zero-emission vehicles often get a raw deal. Carmakers who don't really believe in EVs will sometimes make a small number of 'compliance cars' and sell them only in those states, the school equivalent of doing the strict minimum to get a passing grade on your homework. This doesn't just happen to obscure models that nobody has heard about; The redesigned 2016 Chevrolet Volt will only be available in 'top EV markets' (not so coincidentally CARB states), and would-be Volt buyers who live outside of those markets will have to wait for the 2017 model. Thankfully, GM has said that the 2017 model would come early, but still, why not a nationwide release?
At least it doesn't seem like that will be the fate of the awkwardly-named Chevy Bolt (they seriously want to sell EVs named the Volt and the Bolt side-by-side?). Shad Balch, Manager of New Product and Public Policy Communications at GM, has told the nice folks at Autoblog that:
"It's very safe to assume that this car is going to be here sooner rather than later," Balch said. "We've also committed that it's going to be a 50-state vehicle at launch. That's to show our commitment to the technology. Our hope is that it becomes a high-volume-selling car, and that it's not just for the coasts, it's not just for a certain income level, but it is a long-range EV that anybody can get themselves into. ... [This is] a good alternative to the luxury long-range EVs that are available now. It's something that people can see themselves actually affording to get into. That's the message from this car."
If true, this is great. The Bolt is predicted to have about 200 miles of driving range and cost about $30,000 after incentives (so probably around $37,500 if we only take into account the federal tax credit, but maybe more if they're including some amount for the most common state incentives).
That would be a nice step forward for EVs, because right now if you want 200 miles of driving range, you have to get a Tesla at a significantly higher price. Of course, the Tesla is also bigger, has higher performance, looks better (in my opinion), and has proved itself over the past few years. But it's hard to argue with the much lower price...
I wish them the best. This will provide strong competition to the Nissan LEAF in the more affordable end of the EV market, and hopefully push Nissan to increase the LEAF's driving range significantly.
Here's an overview of the Bolt:
For some reason, GM keeps showing it off in color palettes very similar to those used by BMW when it unveiled its i3 EV, which doesn't help it stand out since both cars have somewhat similar looks. See for yourself: