Kris Hatcher

Chevrolet Bolt: Best in Class Fully Electric Vehicle

For an environmentally conscious consumer, there are many choices in the automotive marketplace which provide an ecological benefit over traditional internal combustion engines (ICE). When comparing the options, and considering a budget friendly vehicle, one vehicle rises to the top of the pile. The Chevy Bolt is the best all electric vehicle for the average consumer.

When choosing a vehicle, there are a variety of factors that most consumers consider in their decision. Things such as cost, passenger count, safety ratings, and even the style of each potential new vehicle have historically been weighed against the consumer’s particular needs or wants. More recently, consumers have started to consider environmental footprint when choosing their next vehicle. It is in this criterion that the Chevy Bolt steps to the head of the pack.

As a part of their environmental footprint considerations, consumers are including fully electric vehicles in their decision-making process. This type of vehicle was not readily available until the mid-2000s and the number of options has exploded in the last 5-10 years. On average, fully electric vehicles tend to be more expensive than ICE options, however that is also starting to change in the consumer’s favor.

In the electric vehicle market, a well-known manufacturer is Tesla. While Tesla has done an impressive job of convincing the public that fully electric vehicles are a realistic choice, their product has a hefty price tag. The base price of their least expensive vehicle, the Model 3, is $40,000. In addition, getting a Tesla serviced can be a bit of an issue, with vehicles needing to go to a regional service center and wait times fluctuating wildly depending on what other issues the company is having at any given time. This high price and lack of convenience leaves the average consumer wanting something else and has left room for more traditional automakers to step in with lower-cost options. The most well-known are Nissan’s Leaf and Chevy’s Bolt.

Nissan and Chevy are both clearly targeting the hybrid market, with starting prices for their offerings under $32,000 in both cases. This makes the choice between a Toyota Prius Prime, for example, and the Chevy Bolt a much more tempting one since the Prius Prime (a plug-in hybrid which falls back to an ICE when the battery power runs out) starts at around $28,000. Honda’s Clarity Plug-in Hybrid, meanwhile, starts at more than $33,000 which means buyers can get the Leaf or Bolt for less than the Clarity and have a vehicle which does not directly emit greenhouse gasses.

An advantage of a traditional, established automaker is that those brands have established dealer and service networks across the country that can support their vehicles. Despite the newness of the Bolt (it was first delivered to consumers in 2017) it can be taken to any Chevrolet dealership for service, no matter where the vehicle is located. This support system is a definite plus for most consumers and contributes to the appeal of the Bolt, as well as other fully electric options from traditional automakers.

The biggest area of concern for consumers who have not ever owned a fully electric vehicle is the range of that vehicle. While the Prius Prime gets more than 600 miles on a single tank of gas, the Bolt gets about 260 miles on a single full charge, and the Nissan Leaf gets about 150 miles. When using traditional ICE vehicles, the driver simply needs to spend 5-10 minutes at a gas station to re-fill the tank and they have their full range restored. The Bolt, meanwhile, needs about 30 minutes to add 100 miles worth of energy to the battery at a public charging station. This can seem like a completely unacceptable trade-off for most consumers, however an average driver who lives 15 miles from their place of employment could go back and forth to work all week and still have more than 100 miles of range left over.

The second range-based argument most consumers bring up is the inability to do “road trips” in fully electric vehicles. Here again, a simple change in perspective can address this. The Bolt can travel for about three hours at 70 miles per hour before needing to re-charge. If the road trip is planned in such a way that there is a point of interest at about three hours into the trip, the driver can stop to charge and spend time taking in the sights before resuming their trip an hour or two later. This breaks up the drive and provides a way to make the trip more enjoyable instead of the long “slog” that we’ve become so used to in our modern lives.

While there are definitely trade-offs, and a fully electric vehicle will not be the right fit for every situation, they are coming closer to being a viable option for everyone. For buyers who are in the market for a second vehicle, or don’t often do a lot of driving, a fully electric vehicle is a realistic option.  With a competitive price, solid feature set, and wide-spread support options the Chevy Bolt should be high on every buyer’s list!

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