Every so often a car comes along that defines a trend. The Volkswagen Beetle of the 50’s and 60’s introduced Americans to small functional cars that were easy on gas. The Ford Mustang of the 60’s made it possible for ordinary folks to afford a “sporty” car with forward looking styling. And then the muscle cars of the 60’s and 70’s such as the Pontiac GTO were, well, fast and really fun to drive. I’m dating myself with this description, but truth is, I wasn’t excited about a car since the mid 70’s until EV’s came around.

The Chevy Bolt of the current era introduced an EV that most middle-class people could afford at under $30,000 before incentives. It is roomier than a Beetle, gets way better mileage, is just as innovative as a Mustang and could beat a GTO off the line.

Although the Bolt is now scheduled to halt production at the end of this year, General Motors is still moving forward with its plan to produce electric vehicles exclusively by 2035. GM’s next generation of EV’s, with similar sales prices, will be built with new architecutre and are anticipated to be profitable by 2025.

Local Bolt owners tell us about their cars

Davis resident Richard Bode bought his Bolt in 2017. “Of course, the Bolt’s #1 attribute is the way it drives. The Bolt is a blast to drive. That EV “instant torque and acceleration” makes for a fun ride but I also think it makes it a safer ride. When you want move, like change lanes or enter a freeway, it responds instantly. It gives the driver great confidence. If my wife wants something to picked up or dropped off, I actually offer to make a run just for the fun of driving the Bolt and turning up the audio (probably why I return with a bit of ringing in my ears). “

Lynne Nittler, long time Cool Davis supporter, is a big fan.  “We love our Bolt.  It is so easy, reliable and trustworthy.  We especially appreciate owning an electric car and no longer visiting gas stations.  For the vast majority of our driving, one charge is ample for the round trip.” She added, “We appreciate the back seat for taking passengers which we do frequently.  I look for opportunities to drive friends in an effort to keep gas cars off the road, and friends usually accept enthusiastically.”

Record 70,000 Bolts in 2023

After generally modest sales since its introduction in 2016, it looked like the Bolt had finally caught on. US sales were up more than 50% last year and GM projected making a record 70,000 units in 2023.  A big part of the draw is good range, 259 miles EPA estimate, with an MSRP starting at $26,595, and $28,195 for the slightly bigger Bolt EUV, before government incentives. Richard Bode does not suffer from range anxiety. “I’ll charge my Bolt up every Saturday morning, and we can use it all week for errands, visits to friends and family, and my wife’s work commutes. With that longer range, the Bolt is perfect for driving locally and regionally and getting me home with charge to spare. I charge it up again the next Saturday and I’m ready to go. My cost to drive — about $20 to $27 a month!”

Surprise end of production

It came as a surprise when GM recently announced it would end production later this year. To be fair, the end for the Bolt was already in the cards, but it wasn’t expected to be this soon. The Bolt uses older battery technology that GM plans to eclipse, building a North American plant to produce its next generation of batteries. And GM’s next generation of EV’s will be built on its Ultium architecture that will be adaptable to several models. GM anticipates production of these models will be profitable by 2025, a feat the Bolt was never able to achieve. The first of these will be the Equinox, a crossover EV that is expected to go on sale next fall with a beginning price of $30,000. The current plant producing the Bolt will be converted to produce the Chevy Silverado and GM Sierra EV pickups. All of this is pointing towards GM’s plan to produce electric vehicles exclusively by 2035.

The Bolt will be available at dealers through the end of this year. It is still the cheapest way to get into a new EV that can actually get you to distant places cheaply and comfortably.

Richard Bode, of the Davis Electric Vehicle Association, with his Chevy Bolt. Courtesy photo.