Taking a road trip on the streets of Northern California in the all-electric Chevy Bolt EV.
Chevy’s new all-electric Bolt TV is already on the roads – a year ahead of Tesla’s Model 3. The car gets over 200 miles to a charge, which might make range anxiety a thing of the past.
To test this theory, Chevy invited a group of journalists – including me – on an overnight trip to Northern California to put the all-electric car through the paces on a real road trip.
I’ll save you the suspense – the Bolt is an amazing electric car, but here’s how I came to that conclusion.
First, we got an early start in Rosewood, which is just outside San Jose. Our drive was scheduled for about 3 hours, taking us on the coast, through mountains, past the Golden Gate Bridge and into San Francisco.
Of course, just minutes into our trip we got stuck in a traffic jam. It lasted at least 10 minutes and got me to thinking how this is exactly the sort of thing people driving an electric car – with limited battery life – might fear. I didn’t think we would run out of juice since we were on a full charge with 224 miles left.
Driving the Bolt is a ton of fun. It’s zippy, handles the road well and feels solid. It has a lot of pickup and speed – passing other cars is not a problem.
Inside, the cabin is bigger than you might expect. The design is minimalistic but there’s pretty much everything you need, including a giant touchscreen front and center. Even the dashboard is fully digital. The Bolt is a tech savvy car by design, so it won’t disappoint in this area.
One interesting thing to note is that there is no navigation option. Since there is support for both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Chevy is assuming you’ll use this instead of a standalone navigation app that’s outdated in a few months. There is also an option to get turn by turn directions from OnStar.
The Bolt can definitely function as a family car but keep in mind the backseat and the trunk are tight. We had 3 little bags in the trunk and that was about the entire capacity. If you fold the seats down you’ll be able to fit much more.
Our trip made me realize just how much 238 electric miles can take you. I looked back at my own commuting habits and realized I rarely drive more than 50 miles on any given day. Of course, people buying this car are apt to charge at home or work, and if you do that you’ll rarely have to worry about running out of battery. Long road trips will take a bit more planning.
Our trip used up less than half the battery – we went about 80 miles total. I never felt range anxiety once, but in my mind, I was constantly debating the merits of a jump to an all electric existence.
I really fell in love with the Bolt. In fact, after our test drive, I took my wife to a dealership to check it out and she fell in love with it too. But actually buying the Bolt is more of a lifestyle choice than a pure numbers decision – you’ll save on fuel but the price of the car is still more expensive than a similarly sized gas car.
But bottom line – Chevy proved a daily electric car is possible with little compromise. We’ll see what Tesla delivers later this year with the Model 3, but for now, when it comes to EV’s, Bolt is the new king.