A Year With The Bolt EUV

A yr in the past, a months-long seek for a Bolt EUV lastly ended, and efficiently. Final yr, automobile costs have been insane. My native supplier had just a few Bolts on the lot, however persistently needed $5,000 or extra over MSRP. So, I needed to drive into El Paso in search of offers. It turns on the market was one sitting on the lot ready for a brand new recall battery, and another person had a deposit on it. A day earlier than the battery got here in, the opposite purchaser backed out, as a result of they discovered a Bolt EUV someplace else.

I managed to get the car for fairly near MSRP earlier than the GM $6,300 off and one other $2,000 off for having an Uber driver account. So, I received an nearly fully-loaded Premier (solely issues not on it have been Tremendous Cruise and a sunroof) for what bottom-barrel LT Bolts used to go for.

On this article, I’m going to share how this primary yr of possession went, and what it in all probability means for different upcoming GM EV fashions because the Bolt and EUV go into hiatus for some time.

I truthfully have just one grievance concerning the Bolt EUV that GM may repair, which I’ll get to later within the article.

Aside from my one grievance, I knew what I used to be shopping for, so I knew getting in that it might solely cost at 50 kW at quick charging stations. I additionally has a really practical thought of what to anticipate on vary, particularly on freeway journeys (it’s by no means going to get near 247 miles of vary going 80 MPH). The car carried out precisely as anticipated on each vary and charging, so I’ve nothing in any respect to complain about on these two most necessary EV points.

The Bolt EUV is somewhat bit cute and goofy, so it matches proper in right here at Sparky’s in Hatch, New Mexico. Picture by Jennifer Sensiba.

How The Bolt EUV Exceeded Expectations

For one, I went in anticipating an inexpensive small front-drive crossover expertise, and the Bolt has exceeded my expectations on that. It has a way more inflexible chassis than low-cost gasoline crossovers often have, and that is identified to be as a result of further rigidity of the battery pack. The suspension isn’t incredible, however performs effectively each on and off-road contemplating that it’s “semi-independent” within the rear. On-road, that is one space the place my 2018 LEAF was higher, however the looser suspension absorbs lots of the uncomfortable bumps in delicate off-road driving, such as you’d discover on a Forest Service highway.

Like many front-drive automobiles, it doesn’t have incredible traction for a tough launch, as a result of the load transfers onto the rear wheels, however that was to be anticipated. I think including airbags to stiffen the rear suspension up a bit would possibly make it really feel somewhat higher taking off, and have much less of a butt-dragging really feel.

The higher steering response in sport mode was additionally a nice shock. Many electrical energy steering techniques really feel fairly useless or numb, however the EUV reduces help energy and offers extra suggestions in sport mode, in order that’s one other space the place it could possibly exceed expectations. It’s additionally price noting that the common Bolt EV doesn’t get a distinct steering really feel in sport mode.

One other space the place it exceeded expectations was air-con. I’ve had vehicles (particularly my 2018 LEAF) that may begin to falter a bit on the most popular days. In a gasoline automobile, you may throttle it a bit to hurry the compressor up, however in my LEAF, it might begin letting the cabin warmth up when it couldn’t sustain. However, even in 115-degree desert climate, the Bolt can sit for a few hours at a time and preserve a snug temperature within the cabin. On one event, the AC condenser did get warmth soaked, however the software program was sensible sufficient to close the AC off for about 20 seconds, kick some followers into extra critical gear, after which restart the compressor sooner, immediately restoring chilly air and luxury.

The Stage 2 charging was one other factor that impressed. It will probably deal with as much as 48 amps at 240 volts (11.5 kW) and I used to be in a position to use GM’s charging installation credit, combined with a local utility incentive, to install a 48-amp charging circuit for the automobile. On the uncommon event that I come house from a long term of regional errands with a low battery, I can plug the factor in and be again to 40% inside an hour or two and have the ability to run extra native errands.

Lastly, I’m critically impressed with how effectively the traction management system performs on Forest Service and different unmaintained or minimally-maintained grime roads I’ve taken it on.

Early in possession, I used to be driving on the inventory Michelin self-sealing low rolling resistance tires the car got here with. However, seeing how skinny these have been and the way shallow their tread is, I used to be afraid that taking the car out on some tenting journeys would depart me with a popped tire. So, I suffered a roughly 15% vary loss and switched to Michelin Defender LTX M/S truck tires (full disclosure, Michelin was good sufficient to supply me with a set to evaluate, however solely after I selected the tire). They’re much more troublesome to destroy on rocks, have significantly better tread for off-road driving, and I put a full-sized spare (I purchased the wheel and paid for all mounting/balancing prices) within the trunk.

With the additional grip the LTX tires present, the Bolt’s traction management system has taken it up some surprisingly steep climbs on tenting and day journeys. The Bolt’s drive unit solely comes with an open differential, however the traction management system is fairly good at placing a brake on the slipping wheel, permitting the opposite entrance wheel to often seize and pull me up the hill. It’s not proactive like lockers on a 4×4, but it surely nearly all the time will get the job achieved.

The Bolt may in all probability use somewhat extra clearance for Forest Service roads, however rigorously chosen strains and the occasional transferring of a log or rock has all the time let me get to the place I needed to go, regardless that the Bolt wasn’t designed for this in any respect.

My One Grievance

The one factor I feel the Bolt underperformed on is software program, each within the car and on the smartphone app.

Within the car, the one factor that actually makes the infotainment usable is Android Auto (it additionally has Apple CarPlay). More often than not, I simply use Android Auto and don’t use the automobile’s infotainment software program in any respect. Its built-in maps are terrible, it has no EV route navigation software program, and it’s simply typically not very aesthetically pleasing. However, I can get all of that by means of Android Auto, so I’m not crushed.

The smartphone app is fairly horrible, and there’s no substitute for it. I can’t register with a PIN, and it received’t let me use a saved password. It’s gradual and typically fails to hook up with the Bolt. There’s additionally little or no you are able to do with the app aside from test cost ranges and pre-condition the automobile. If GM may solely add one factor, I’d ask them to let me change the EV’s cost restrict from the app, however the software program actually wants utterly redone.

What This Means For Potential GM EV Consumers

The Bolt and EUV are each coming towards the tip of their manufacturing, and shall be unavailable new for some time till GM comes out with a brand new Ultium Bolt. When you’re pondering of grabbing one of many final first-generation Bolts, I’d advocate going forward and doing so, however provided that it’s not very quick charging on highway journeys. For an area and regional grocery getter, it’s completely tremendous. I personally highway journey mine, however I’d advocate visiting ABRP’s website and running some simulations earlier than you go purchase one with highway journeys in thoughts so that you aren’t disenchanted.

However, you may also take into account ready for the Equinox EV, which is meant to start out promoting within the fall. They’ll solely promote higher-spec Equinoxes first, however there’ll ultimately be a front-drive primary one for fairly near what Bolt EUVs bought for, and it ought to have very related capabilities. Nevertheless, the Ultium-based Equinox may have a lot sooner Stage 3 charging than the Bolt, so it might be much more nice on highway journeys (particularly as soon as extra charging stations go in).

One other factor the Equinox might be going to do higher is software program. GM is making a seemingly suicidal transfer eliminating Android Auto and CarPlay, however they are saying they’re making a significantly better built-in software program bundle. You’ll undoubtedly wish to test on that earlier than pulling the set off within the fall or winter.

Total, although, I feel GM is making moderately good EVs, they usually’ll get so much higher as soon as the reasonably priced Equinox comes out. I wouldn’t be afraid of shopping for one until a Tesla is in your price range and you want Tesla’s minimalist method to car design.

Featured picture and all photos by Jennifer Sensiba.

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