GM readying 200-mile Chevrolet Bolt, improved Volt

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A new Tesla-fighting EV by GM, the Chevrolet Bolt, is being debuted in Detroit. Image from Wikimedia Commons

A new Tesla-fighting EV by GM, the Chevrolet Bolt, is being debuted in Detroit. Image from Wikimedia Commons

The Chevrolet Bolt is being tipped as a serious challenger to Tesla’s electric vehicles, with a claimed 200-mile range. GM is vying to become a top seller of alternative drivetrain vehicles, which is actually sort of working.

GM unveils Chevrolet Bolt early

General Motors recently announced an EV for 2017 called the Chevrolet Bolt. It’s a crossover, based on the architecture of the Chevrolet Volt PHEV sedan, but with the party trick of having a much longer electric range than basically every other EV except the extended-range Tesla EVs.

The Tesla S currently can be equipped with a battery pack capable of 300 miles between charges, though the base model has less than 200 miles of range. (The 300-mile option also pushes the price north of $80,000 before incentives.)

The Bolt, according to the Detroit Free Press, debuted on Jan. 12 at the Detroit auto show, a.k.a. the North American International Auto Show.

This sucker’s electrical

The Chevrolet Bolt will go on sale about the time the Tesla 3, a compact sedan, goes on sale, which is anticipated to cost around $35,000 when it becomes available, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Not much else is known about the Bolt, besides the claimed range and an expected price tag of about $30,000 after incentives. The battery pack will be made by LG Chem, a South Korean battery company. The new battery pack is anticipated to use higher-capacity cells with more flexible structures, meaning it will be easier for engineers to situate the battery pack.

Expanding lineup

General Motors is expanding its lineup of alternative drivetrain vehicles, including the Chevrolet Bolt. Aside from the Volt, the only other extant GM EV is the Chevy Spark EV, currently available only in California and Oregon. Another EV is expected to be added to the lineup.

The current Volt is getting a refresher for 2015. Among the improvements are an improved battery pack, which employs fewer battery cells though retaining a higher capacity than the outgoing model. A new gasoline-powered range extending engine is also set to debut in the new Volt, which will run on regular unleaded instead of premium, according to CNN Money, and will make better use of the electric motors that power the wheels, thereby improving acceleration.

While GM insists that the alternative drivetrain model lineup isn’t just a ruse to appease CAFE standards, the Volt has actually succeeded in a way. Despite being a slow seller (fewer than 70,000 found homes), it has out-sold the plug-in Prius, the second-best seller in the segment.

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