In the eyes of the EV media at least, the Chevrolet Bolt EV, scheduled to go on sale later this year, is a historic vehicle. It’s the first to deliver the range and price point that pundits have been saying represent a “tipping point” for EV sales. However, GM designed the Bolt with more than practicality in mind.
“Being the leader in range and affordability means nothing if the car isn’t going to excite you each time you get behind the wheel,” said Josh Tavel, Chevrolet Bolt EV Chief Engineer. “That’s why the team was tasked with delivering a propulsion system that would also make the Bolt EV an electric vehicle that owners would love to drive.”
The Bolt EV’s motor cranks out 266 lb-ft (360 Nm) of torque and 200 hp (150 kW) of power, delivered via a shift-by-wire system that requires less packaging space than a traditional mechanical shifter. The Bolt’s 0-60 time is less than 7 seconds, which won’t frighten the Model S or Mustang in the next lane, but should at least enable you to smoke a Prius (which gets there in around 10 seconds).
Designing any battery system requires tradeoffs between energy (range) and power (performance), but the Bolt’s engineers are confident they struck the right balance.
“You usually have a battery cell that delivers either the desired levels of energy or power, but not both. With this cell design and chemistry we were able to deliver a battery system with 160 kW of peak power and 60 kWh of energy,” said Gregory Smith, Bolt EV Battery Pack Engineering Group Manager.
The Bolt’s 60 kWh battery pack has 288 lithium ion cells and weighs 960 lbs. Like the Volt’s pack, it uses active thermal conditioning to maintain an optimum temperature. A 7.2 kW onboard charger is standard, and CCS DC fast charging system is available as an option. The regenerative braking system allows the driver to choose either one-pedal driving or the more traditional less-aggressive regen.