General Motors killed the Chevy Bolt — and the dream of a small, affordable electric car

Looks like Chevrolet’s low-end electric car was just too good for this world.

If you’ve shopped for an EV in the past two years, you’ve likely experienced a bit of sticker shock. Can’t get around it: The majority of electric vehicles on the market today, the ones that people actually want to buy because they have a comfortable space and a long enough range, are expensive. Despite recent cuts by Tesla, whose car prices had been inflating for months before slumping demand forced the company to lower prices across its line, the average selling price of an electric vehicle was still $58,940 in March, according to Data from Kelly Blue Book. That’s nearly $15,000 more than the average sale price for a new, non-luxury gas-powered car.

That’s enough of a price difference to stop many potential buyers from considering an EV, before we even get to the charging and range conversation. But Chevrolet’s Bolt EV and Bolt EUV were proof that the electric vehicle market didn’t have to be this way, at least until General Motors announced it was ending production later this year so it could make a behemoth electric truck line.

Can’t get around it: The majority of electric vehicles on the market today are very expensive

The Bolt was (and still is, as long as you can still find it) the best value in EVs you can buy today. The smaller Bolt EV started at $27,495 (including destination); The slightly larger EUV model ran for $28,795 (including destination). That got you a modern electric vehicle with over 200 miles of usable range in the real world, enough space for five seats, and all the modern conveniences and safety features you’d expect with a new car in 2023. Besides, the Bolts are among a few. Of the electric vehicles you can buy today that qualify for the full $7,500 tax credit from the federal government, which among other requirements has a price cap.

This was a brand new electric car with a total cost of well under $30,000. There’s nothing quite like it on the road, and it’s a shame that GM decided it no longer had a future.

The Bolt wasn’t a stunning design, but it was affordable and functional.
Photo by Andrew J Hawkins/The Verge

I had a chance to test the Bolt EUV earlier this year to see what an affordable and easy-to-drive electric vehicle could be like in 2023. My test unit was a fully loaded Premier Redline model that comes with a sticker price of $39 $480 with destination. But a lot of that cost is caused by unnecessary features and features, which most people shouldn’t have to pay for. A similar and more attractive option is the trim level trim, which still offers niceties like heated and ventilated leather front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, surround-view cameras, wireless CarPlay/Android Auto, and wireless phone charging. , and more for about $6,000 less. Factor in the federal tax credit, and you’ll pay just under $26,000 net — less than half the average sale price of electric vehicles. Some countries offer more incentives on top of that to further reduce the cost.

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It’s a shame GM decided the Bolt no longer had a future

At the risk of beating this point to death, there is simply no other practical EV option at this price. The Nissan Leaf starts at around $28,000, and the Hyundai Kona costs under $34,000, but since it’s not built in the US, it doesn’t qualify for a tax credit, making the Bolt an even better deal. (The Bolt has a longer rating range than the Leaf and the same as the Kona, too.)

The next Volkswagen ID card. The 2 all is expected to be priced in the mid-20s and come with nearly 300 miles of range in Golf-like hatchback styling, but it’s a far cry from being here just yet. Perhaps Tesla will continue to slash prices on the Model 3 and bring it down to the $35,000 price it promised many years ago, but I wouldn’t pin my hopes on that happening.

Look at all that plastic.
Photo by Dan Seifert/The Verge

Physical buttons abound.
Photo by Dan Seifert/The Verge

Even at its affordable price, the Bolt EUV didn’t feel like a bargain basement car. The car I drove had a 10.2-inch center screen and an 8-inch digital gauge cluster with some customization, ambient lighting, start, and remote control from a phone or key fob. My test unit’s black leather-trimmed interior was unmistakable, and there were still plenty of buttons and physical controls for things like climate, which is always a blessing to see in this year, the 23rd year of our Touchscreen. Perhaps the only real complaint I had was the piano black gloss finish in the center console, which, as usual, gets greasy after only a few minutes in the car.

Like all electric cars, the Bolt is quiet and sure-footed on the road, though it never delivers a particularly sporty experience. It’s just a car that takes you from point A to point B with minimal fuss. There’s a Sport mode you can toggle into, but that basically made the throttle more aggressive—there was no discernible change in steering or suspension when I hit the Sport button. The GM cars that follow are sure to have more aggressive acceleration and performance numbers that look cool in commercials but aren’t practical for everyday use.

At the risk of beating this point to death, there is simply no other practical EV option at this price

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The Bolt EUV seats five, but—and that may have been a big reason for its downfall—it’s certainly one of the smallest cars on the road today. (The difference between it and the Bolt EV is about six more inches, almost all of it going toward more rear-seat passenger room.) I fit my family of five, including a toddler car seat, and it was fine for short trips or errands. The kids had plenty of space in the back seat, and it was easy to get the little girl in and out of the car seat. Plus, due to the hatchback-like shape, there was plenty of cargo space.

Not spacious but not cramped either.
Photo by Andrew J Hawkins/The Verge

But Americans don’t like buying subcompact hatchbacks (RIP, BMW i3, other small electric cars are no longer available). Other parts of the world will already or soon have their choice of many affordable and compact electric vehicles, incl Those made by General Motors themselves. Instead, we’ll get cars and trucks with obscene amounts of horsepower and oversized battery packs that cost more to produce and ship and aren’t practical for the kind of driving most Americans already do.

Another thing I will miss from Bolt? Being able to use my phone with the infotainment system. GM recently announced that it plans to get rid of CarPlay and Android Auto in its future electric cars, but both were available on the Bolt.

The Bolt EUV came with an EPA rating of 247 miles of range, which isn’t as much as you’ll get in the Tesla Model 3 or some of the other more expensive electric cars on the market but still plenty of range to avoid worrying about. In the week I’ve been driving (with outside temperatures in the mid-40s most of the time), the in-car range estimate has been about 213 miles.

Its 55kW DC fast-charging maximum speed isn’t quite as fast as something like Hyundai’s Ioniq 5 or Kia’s EV6, both of which can charge at rates of up to 350kW (and cost about $20,000 more). The best the Bolt can do when connected to a DC fast charger is get about 100 miles of range in 30 minutes of charging. GM’s newest Ultium EV platform, which the Bolt hasn’t moved to, will offer faster charging options.

The Bolt EUV seats five, but — and that may have been a big reason for its downfall — it’s certainly one of the smallest cars on the road today.

But here’s a little secret I’ll let you in: For the vast majority of people who drive, neither range nor charging speed matter so much. In my time with the Bolt, I’ve used it for typical driving needs: getting the kids to school and other activities, running errands, visiting local friends, and going out. The most I drove in one day was about 40 miles, within Bolt’s range. And I’m not particularly unique: According to data from the United States Federal Highway Administration, the The average American drives about 37 miles a day.

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I don’t have a 240-volt charging plug in my garage, so I’ve been stuck using a standard 120-volt wall outlet to charge the car, which provides about four miles of range per hour. Until then, I was able to recharge or get close to a full charge every single night. I’d drive the Bolt during the day, come home in the evening, plug it in, and start the next day with a 200-mile range. I never had to search for a faster option in a generic charger because there wasn’t any need for it.

Before I tested the Bolt and used it the way I usually drive, I was convinced you were necessary 240V charging option for electric vehicle; Now, I think it’s a nice luxury to have, but a lot of people can definitely put up with a slower charge. (And, anecdotally, several EV owners I’ve spoken to have already done so — Alex Dykes of the EV Buyers Guide YouTube channel has Good breakdown of EV charging here.)

Fragile charging was a practical option.
Photo by Andrew J Hawkins/The Verge

Unfortunately, larger electric cars aren’t as efficient as the Bolt, and they come with much larger batteries that take longer to charge. The ability to rely on a standard wall outlet to charge your electric vehicle overnight may not be long for this world, and is instead being replaced by the ability for oversized electric trucks to be mobile power generators in the rare event of a power outage.

Chevrolet’s track record with the Bolt line over the past few years has been bumpy—it had to recall 150,000 cars in 2021 to replace faulty batteries that were responsible for more than a dozen fires. Nor was it able to compete with the more attractive and more fun-to-drive Tesla Model 3, despite it outsold the market by two model years and reduced the price.

But the Bolt has remained an affordable and practical electric option. The fact that GM is killing it in favor of bigger, more expensive cars that are easier to market and show off at dealer lots is a grim preview of what’s to come. Yes, we should have electric cars that cater to Americans who demand bigger, nimbler, faster cars. But we’ll also need more cars like the Bolt if we want people to adopt EVs faster than they are now.

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