By on August 23, 2019

Image: GM

Aside from Tesla fans and aficionados of various European exotics still stuck in development, the chief performance spec that concerns most electric vehicle buyers is not acceleration — it’s range. How many miles will this thing go before stranding me in the dark?

For most buyers on the lower end of things, getting maximum miles for your money is top of mind, and Chevrolet’s Bolt has offered an impressive EPA-rated range of 238 miles since it first rolled off lots in December 2016. Apparently, GM felt that wasn’t enough.

For the 2020 model year, the automaker stated Thursday, the Bolt will travel 259 miles on a charge. This newfound stamina further distances the Bolt from its lower-priced rivals; mainly, the Nissan Leaf Plus (226 miles) and the Tesla Model 3 Standard Range (220 miles) and Standard Range Plus (240 miles).

Hyundai’s new Kona Electric, which saw its first U.S. deliveries in February, boasts a range of — wait for it — 258 miles. Hmmm. Seems GM really wanted to wear a crown.

According to the automaker, the Bolt’s 10-percent range boost came about after Chevy’s battery engineering team “improved the energy of the cell electrodes by making small but impactful changes to the cell chemistry.”

“This innovative thinking allowed the team to implement the range increase without needing to change the physical battery pack and the way it is integrated into the vehicle structure,” GM stated.

While the otherwise unchanged model’s starting price remains at $37,495 for 2020, that doesn’t mean buyers won’t end up spending more. GM saw its $7,500 federal tax credit cut in half last April. Come October 1st, the credit shrinks to $1,875. Unless something happens at the legislative level, Bolt buyers can expect that credit to disappear on April 1st, 2020.

Bolt sales declined in 2018 as new rivals came on the scene; meanwhile, GM moved to boost supply in underserved regions. However, the recent demise of the plug-in Volt hybrid seems to have sent a gust of wind to the Bolt’s sails. Volume is up 5.4 percent over the first half of 2019, with the second quarter’s sales tally coming in 13.8 percent higher than that of the previous year.

[Image: General Motors]

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25 Comments on “Range Wars: GM Tweaks the 2020 Chevrolet Bolt for Greater Distance...”


  • avatar
    Middle-Aged (Ex-Miata) Man

    “According to the automaker, the Bolt’s 10-percent range boost…”

    Looks like GM mediocrity extends to mathematics. An increase from 248 to 259 isn’t even half that.

    • 0 avatar
      Peter Gazis

      The Bolt was originally advertised as having a 237 mile EV range. So 259 miles of range sounds like a 10% increase to me.

      • 0 avatar
        Middle-Aged (Ex-Miata) Man

        Yes it does; however, the copy originally stated 248 and I DGAF enough about the Bolt to know that it was a typo.

        I’ll also point out the writer apparently fixed his typo without noting his earlier error, which is disingenuous even for a blogger.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Make the seats bigger.

    • 0 avatar
      ttiguy

      Lose some weight tubby. Problem solved

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        LOL, no.
        If I’m too fat for the Bolt’s seats then they’ll have a heck of a time selling them to the rest of the country.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        The part of my body that doesn’t fit the Bolt’s seats isn’t my belly, it’s my (40″) shoulders and chest. I could be chiseled like Mr. Universe and I’d still be too big.

        Again, doesn’t really matter for a city car, but would be a big disadvantage if I were doing the sort of commute that the Bolt’s range enables.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        I live across Rudee’s Inlet from a jet ski rental place. Every day, all day long, there are fat people renting wave-runners; a dozen at time. The cheapest rental is $100 for half an hour. If you have a mass-market product in the US that can’t accommodate fat people, you don’t have much of a product.

        Michael Moore said he cancelled his SoulCycle subscription over their support for the US Constitution. He would never lie, so even exercise bikes must work for the profoundly morbidly obese. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Chevrolet Bolt, but I don’t recall it looking all that svelte in photos itself.

    • 0 avatar
      redgolf

      I’m noticing that most seats have gotten smaller as i get older and wider!;-)

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The Bolt is a good value for an EV, but I found it to be uncomfortable inside and choppy to drive. I especially disliked the position of the shifter, which was halfway up my forearm. The displays are very busy, too.

    As for the range, many owners have found the Bolt’s EPA range to be understated – rare for an EV – so I’m sure some are already getting 259 miles.

    • 0 avatar
      Peter Gazis

      SCE to AUX

      GM made several changes to the car last year. Including the front seats. I haven’t been in the car since it first rolled out. So I can’t comment any further.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      The Bolt’s seats aren’t very comfortable, especially for people bigger than an average Korean man. It’s probably the car’s biggest demerit. It really doesn’t matter for us because we rarely drive our Bolt long distances.

      The range estimates are indeed understated. My wife’s longest trip in the Bolt so far was a 170-mile roundtrip that featured lots of driving over 70 mph (EV range is better at slower speeds) and climbing over a 3000′ mountain pass each way. She started with a full battery and had 69 miles of range remaining when she pulled into our driveway.

    • 0 avatar
      redgolf

      you call $43,000 a good value?

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        $43k is the MSRP of a loaded Premier. The LT starts at $37.5k.

        In any event, as usual with GM, MSRP has little to do with what you actually pay. My 2019 Premier stickered at $43,950 (including some dealer-supplied accessories) and I paid a little over $35k for it.

        And that’s before the tax credit.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        $35k (which is average transaction price these days for a car) for a vehicle which requires no maintenance and has a very low fuel cost per mile – yes, I’d call that a good value.

        I also said “for an EV”.

        Beauty and the beholder, I suppose.

        Actually, the best value in an EV is a Tesla Model 3, especially when you consider range and resale value.

    • 0 avatar
      probert

      It’s got 1 gear.

  • avatar
    crtfour

    I had forgotten that this vehicle even existed. Can anyone explain why GM doesn’t advertise cars that need to be and is so bad at the ones that they do advertise?

  • avatar
    993cc

    Range was never the Bolt’s problem. The problem was the charging speed, which begins to throttle down at 55%, then gets slower.

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    Range wasn’t the Bolt’s problem. Even the just-okay fast-charging speed isn’t a big problem, the better to protect the battery’s long-term health. The problem was the front seats. I’m sure they worked fine in GM Korea’s studio where much of the car’s development was done. But for a Westerner broad of shoulders or belly, they’re a deal-killer. (FWIW, I’m a small-boned dude, shaped more like a teenager than a middle-aged drone, and they sucked for me too.) The seatback bolsters are behind your back, not around it. Worse, there’s literally a steel impact beam in the seat frame at your left hip and thigh where a cushion should be: if you’re in the habit of sliding over into the seat rather than dropping down — and sliding over is kinda your only option anyway given the Bolt’s quasi-CUV seat height — you will bruise yourself every damn time you get in or out. Maybe that’s a contributing factor to the car’s safety scores, which are bizarrely good for a small car made mostly of aluminum, but it is not endearing or conducive to sales. Someone always says “they’ve improved the seats this year/month/quarter” … so periodically I give it a fresh sit at the dealer … and every time I can’t really feel an improvement. But maybe I’ll try a mid-2019 just in case.


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