Affordable Chevy Bolt packs in latest technology

Michael Martinez
The Detroit News

Las Vegas — Chevrolet hopes its all-new Bolt EV will be an affordable option that will eliminate electric car range anxiety.

The Detroit automaker unveiled the Bolt at a Wednesday press conference at the CES technology show.

General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra introduces the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV at its world debut during the Consumer Electronics Show Wednesday.

The five-seater will have a range of more than 200 miles and take nine hours to fully charge, said General Motors Co. officials. It can get to an 80 percent charge in 60 minutes. The Bolt starts at $30,000 — including a federal tax credit — and will go into production late this year at the automaker’s Orion Township plant alongside the Chevy Sonic.

“It’s the first EV that cracks the code of long range and affordable price,” said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. “We see the Bolt as more than a car. It’s an upgradable platform for new technology.”

Barra said the Bolt can be updated as autonomous technology comes out, and the car could serve as the ideal option for its partnership with ride-sharing service Lyft. The automaker earlier this week announced it was investing $500 million in the service.

Chevy is waiting to unveil more details about the battery and performance until next week at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Some parts of the car, including the headlamps and tail lamps, were still wrapped in camouflage packaging duri

General Motors CEO and Chairman of the Board Mary Barra unveils the Chevrolet Bolt EV at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Wednesday, January 6, 2016

ng the media drives on Tuesday.

“It’s bringing 200 mile-range to everybody,” said Darin Gesse, product manager for the Bolt. “It’s for the masses.”

Officials touted the Bolt’s large interior space — 94.4 cubic feet — and roominess in the front and back. It features a deep center console that’s big enough to store an iPad or purse and there’s plenty of space underneath its 10.2-inch color touchscreen, which offers a new version of Chevy’s MyLink infotainment system.

“You won’t make any compromises when it comes to space in the Bolt EV,” Barra said.

The two front seats also use a thinner seat-back, which leads to more legroom and space for the rear passengers. The battery is packaged below the vehicle for even more room and a flat floor.

Gesse said the Bolt will feature two technological firsts for Chevy: a rear camera mirror and surround vision.

The rear camera mirror uses a new lens on the back of the liftgate to provide a wide-angle view behind the car, which is projected across the entire rear view mirror.

Surround vision uses four cameras to create a 360 degree view around the vehicle that a driver can use while parking.

The car will let users post their one-charge range and best efficiency numbers online to compete against others.

Pam Fletcher, GM’s executive chief engineer for electrified vehicles, said the vehicle is “optimal” for GM’s partnership with ride-sharing service Lyft.

Alan Batey, GM’s head of the Chevrolet brand, said he doesn’t expect the Bolt will eat into Volt sales.

“We think they’re very different vehicles,” Batey said. “We wanted the Bolt to move more into the crossover space.”

Karl Brauer, senior analyst with Kelley Blue Book, said the Bolt represents “the first serious electric vehicle available to mainstream consumers. “It will be interesting test to see how the market embraces the Bolt in this era of cheap gas, but from a value and function standpoint it sets a new benchmark in alternative fuel options.”

Customers have been slow to embrace electric cars. In the much of the Midwest, the charging infrastructure is still lacking, but Gesse said the 200-mile Bolt will help ease some of that concern.

“It’s almost like treating it like your cellphone,” Gesse said. “You come home, plug it in and it’s ready for you the next day. You can make a long-distance trip and make those extra errands you wouldn’t be able to in a normal EV.”

Chevy until now has been touting a 200-mile figure, but Gesse said that the vehicle’s range will actually be greater than that number.

“We know we’ll be over (200 miles), we just don’t know how far we’ll be over,” he said.