Chevy reveals Bolt EV battery size at Detroit auto show

Melissa Burden
The Detroit News

The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV is powered by a 60-kilowatt lithium-ion battery pack featuring 288 cells and can travel from zero to 60 miles per hour in less than seven seconds, General Motors Co. said Monday at the Detroit auto show.

The Chevy Bolt EV makes its debut for the world automotive media during day one of press previews at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on January 11, 2016 at Cobo Center.

While the General Motors Co. brand revealed the battery size, it did not immediately offer more details on the pure electric’s battery range, other than it’s expected to travel more than 200 miles on a charge.

The Bolt EV’s battery system weighs 960 pounds. Its motor can produce up to 266 foot-pounds of torque and 200 horsepower. Chevy said the vehicle’s top speed is 91 mph.

GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra and Mark Reuss, head of global product development for the automaker, got out of the the Bolt EV on stage Monday, with Barra behind the wheel. They touted the production version of the vehicle is here a year after Chevy introduced the concept at the North American International Auto Show.

The five-seat, front-wheel drive electric vehicle will start around $30,000 after a $7,500 federal tax rebate. The vehicle Chevy is billing as a crossover, but officially is considered a small wagon by the government, will be available to buy in all 50 states. It will go into production later this year at GM’s Orion Assembly Plant in Orion Township.

Reuss said when the Bolt EV is on the road, there will be “nothing else like it.”

“Being the leader in range and affordability means nothing if the car isn’t going to excite you each time you get behind the wheel,” Josh Tavel, Chevrolet Bolt EV chief engineer, said in a statement. “That’s why the team was tasked with delivering a propulsion system that would also make the Bolt EV an electric vehicle that owners would love to drive.”

The production version bowed last week at the CES technology show in Las Vegas.

Barra told reporters after the reveal that the company believes customers long-term will want an electric vehicle. That comes amid low demand currently or electric vehicles especially given low gas prices.

“We think long-term electrification is part of the solution and is what customers want,” Barra said. “So that’s one of the benefits of General Motors and specifically Chevrolet. We’re a full range manufacturer. So we offer customers choice.”

Reuss declined to provide any sales expectations for the Bolt EV.

“There’s no telling how it’s going to do,” Reuss said.

The Bolt EV will beat Tesla Motors Inc. to market with an affordable pure electric vehicle.

“We’re writing the script for this — no one has had a car with this capability in this segment,” Reuss said. “We’re very excited,” about its potential.

GM partnered with South Korea-based LG Corp. to co-engineer and develop several components for the Bolt EV, helping speed up development. LG supplied 11 components for the Bolt, including things such as a GM-designed electric drive motor for the Bolt EV, a power inverter module that converts power for the drive unit, an on-board charger, battery cells and pack, battery heater, instrument cluster, infotainment system and other components.

The carmaker on Monday, the first press day of the Detroit show, confirmed the battery and motor and drive unit will be produced in Incheon, South Korea.

The Bolt EV, which could serve as an autonomous vehicle choice, will take nine hours to completely charge, but can get an 80 percent battery charge in an hour through a DC fast charging system.

Its battery pack is part of the car’s chassis, giving the Bolt EV a flat floor and room for back-seat passengers. Chevy says it is designed to be roomy inside and offers almost 17 cubic feet of cargo space behind the back seat.

Chevy’s new pure EV also will offer navigation with electric vehicle specific routing to help give drivers routes to maximize range and guide them to charging stations. The vehicle also has an advanced range predictor to help best measure driving range, based on everything from temperature and an owner’s driving habits to topography.

It boasts new technology for Chevy, too, such as a rear camera mirror that shows a wide-angle view of the rear of the car projected across the rear view mirror. It also has surround vision system that uses four cameras to create a 360-degree view around the Bolt EV that a driver can use to help in parking.

Chevrolet said the Bolt EV also has a new regenerative braking system — aimed to boost range and driving fun — that owners can use with only one pedal. The carmaker said through increased regenerative deceleration and software controls, the driver can operate the vehicle in “low” mode or hold a Regen on Demand paddle and take his foot off the accelerator. That will slow the vehicle, and to a full stop in certain driving conditions, without having to use the brake pedal.

The Bolt EV will compete with vehicles such as the all electric Nissan Leaf, BMW i3, Ford Focus Electric, Kia Soul EV, VW eGolf and the Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric.

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Staff Writer Michael Martinez and Kevin A. Wilson contributed.