Last year, live before the world, we crowned the Chevrolet Bolt EV our 2017 Car of the Year. Not because it’s a good EV, not because it’s a good car, and not because it’s the first electric car to offer anxiety-free range at a price middle class folks can afford. It’s for all of those reasons. Luckily, we have a full year to see if the Bolt can live up to the high bar we set.
The Bolt is one of the more significant long-term cars we’ve had in recent years. Tons of people were interested in our long-term Tesla Model S, but most of them couldn’t afford it. Plenty of people were interested in our long-term Nissan Leaf and Kia Soul EV but were turned off by their limited range and long charge times. As such, the Bolt will be many people’s first real exposure to an EV that finally meets their needs. It goes 238 miles on a charge, according to the EPA (we’ll test that), and it can add 90 miles of range in about 30 minutes on a DC fast charger.
As I was sitting down to write this introduction, I received a press release from a Chevy dealer in Georgia, which bought a Bolt in California and trucked it back home to use as a demo until it gets its allocation later this year.
Because this car will attract folks who’ve never owned an EV before, we’re going to document it all the way. We purchased a 240-volt home charger to install at my house in order to ensure the Bolt stays juiced up. The charger, an AeroVironment EVSE-RS, pulls 30 amps and retails for $999 to $1,099 depending on the length of the cable and whether it’s hardwired into your house or plugs into a 240-volt outlet. At the time of this writing, it’s on sale for $599 to $749. Installation was arranged through AeroVironment, which will send a local, factory-approved electrician to my house. He or she will install a 40-amp circuit breaker in my electrical panel, run up to 30 feet of wiring, and install the charger all for a flat $799 fee. If I need it more than 30 feet away or if my city requires permits and fees, I’ll pay those on top of the flat fee.
Including the charger and installation, we’re in it for $1,398, exactly the price of the bundled deal AeroVironment is currently running. If that’s too rich for you, AeroVironment also sells the TurboCord, which will plug into a NEMA 6-20 240-volt outlet such as the one your clothes dryer might use, for $599 to $699. If you don’t have a free plug, AeroVironment will install one as part of a bundle, which costs exactly the same as the wall charger bundle I got. On the plus side, you can take the TurboCord anywhere. Minus: It charges at 16 amps, significantly slower.
Then there’s the car itself. Our Bolt is the range-topping Premier model, which starts at $41,780 before tax credits. A federal tax credit takes $7,500 off the price, bringing it down to $34,280. The state of California offers an additional $2,500 tax credit, bringing the real-world sticker price of our car down to $31,780. Not dirt cheap, but it’s worth noting the average transaction price of a new car in the U.S. is $32,000. A standard LT model starts at $37,495, or $29,995 after federal credit and $27,495 after the additional California credit. As of this writing, 33 states offer some form of incentives on EV purchases and/or charger installation.
Getting the Premier trim package netted us fancier wheels, leather seats, a heated steering wheel, heated front and rear seats, a 360-degree camera, and more on top of the standard automatic climate control, HID headlights, rearview camera, keyless entry, and 10.2-inch touchscreen, among other things. To that, we added both the $485 Infotainment package (Bose stereo, wireless phone charger, and rear USB charging ports) and the $495 Driver Confidence package (collision warning, emergency braking, lane keeping assist, and adaptive headlights). We also wanted DC fast-charging capability, which set us back another $750, and Cajun Red paint, which cost $395. All told: $43,905 out the door, $36,405 after federal tax credit, and $33,905 with the California credit, too.
Add the cost of the home charger, and we’re out $45,303 up front, $37,803 after federal tax credit, and $35,303 with the California tax credit.
Depending on where you live, there might be additional rebates and incentives. For example, my electric utility offers special rates for EV owners who charge at off-peak hours, such as overnight. Some states and municipalities offer rebates on the purchase of a Level 2 charger to offset the cost, and some also offer financing programs to reduce the upfront cost of installing a charger.
|2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$43,905*|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door hatchback|
|MOTOR||200-hp/266-lb-ft AC permanent magnet|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||3,555 lb (56/44%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||164.0 x 69.5 x 62.8 in|
|0-60 MPH||6.3 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||14.9 sec @ 92.9 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||128 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.78 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||27.4 sec @ 0.63 g (avg)|
|REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB||28.6/26.3/27.8 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||128/110/119 mpg-e|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||26/31 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.00 lb/mile (at vehicle)|
|EPA RANGE||238 miles|
|*Before applicable tax rebates|