Electrification a Pillar of Future Transportation: Chevy unveils 200 mile EV Bolt, 50+350 mile Volt


General Motors' CEO Mary Barra strode on stage at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit and made a series of bold statements about the company's commitment to electric transportation which had the crowd, media and Internet buzzing. "Chevrolet believes electrification is a pillar of future transportation and needs to be affordable for a wider segment of customers."

The message was reinforced by the reveal of the Bolt concept car – Chevrolet's 200 mile all-electric-range EV, from inside a pillar-like cylinder lit up like a plasma lamp - or dare we say - Tesla coil. 

The appearance of the Bolt followed the unveiling of the redesigned 2016 Chevrolet Volt, which  also caused a stir among the EV faithful. Praised as much for the improvement of its all-electric range from 35 to 50 miles (+350 miles range on gasoline), as for its improved styling, the Volt was almost upstaged by interest in the Bolt.

The Bolt, and GM's apparently renewed vigor to stake out its position in the nascent field, is big news. Although the Bolt is only a concept at this stage, it appears that GM is preparing to produce the car for sale in 2017. That places GM ahead of Tesla in the race to produce a mass market all-electric car that can completely replace the internal combustion vehicle. Ahead at least insofar as GM has shown their entrant at a major auto show, and Tesla has yet to release sketches, let alone play peek-a-boo with a fender, as Chevy did with the 2016 Volt a few weeks ahead of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. 

The Bolt immediately drew widespread praise. Any 200 mile EV at a mainstream price point would have its adherents, but the Bolt showed that GM could put together a truly appealing head-turner. If most of the concept's features make it into production intact, GM will not only have a winner, it may as Barra said, be "a game changer."

The interior is simply a masterpiece of minimalist good taste, strongly emulating one of the Tesla Model S' notable features. Although there were other modern touches shared with the Tesla, like allowing a smartphone to work as the key fob, there were also significant innovations. A ride-sharing management system includes reservations, vehicle location and payment processing.

GM appeared also to be preparing for autonomous driving, announcing that the concept featured automatic park-and-retrieval technology which enables the driver to exit the vehicle and have the Bolt park itself.

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