Chevy Bolt EV: Enough Power to Blow Away the Competition

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Eric Schaal/Autos Cheat Sheet

There has been a ton of enthusiasm for the Chevy Bolt EV for its range breakthrough, and rightfully so. Beating the rest of the market to a 200-mile electric car is a heady industry achievement. However, GM revealed another key selling point for the Bolt at the Detroit Auto Show: raw power. The new Bolt EV will overwhelm the competition in this department when it hits the market late in 2016.

In the production Bolt’s CES debut, we got confirmation of the car’s range and price point along with some general tech specs, but GM stayed mum when it came to drivetrain capabilities. On January 11 in Detroit, we finally learned the Bolt would have a 60 kWh battery pack, same as the original base Tesla Model S. This system will deliver 200 horsepower and 266 pounds-feet of torque, allowing it to hit 60 miles per hour from zero in less than seven seconds.

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Eric Schaal/Autos Cheat Sheet

No EV in the price range comes close to those power specs. Since none can offer more than 107 miles of range (Nissan Leaf SV), the comparison may be unfair from the start. However, the price of the 2016 Leaf SV ($34,200) certainly is within range of the Bolt MSRP ($37,500), so we’ll try it anyway.

A new Leaf delivers 107 horsepower and 187 pounds-feet of torque. The 2016 Volkswagen e-Golf ($28,995) offers 115 horsepower and 199 pounds-feet of torque. A Kia Soul EV ($31,950), for its part, delivers 109 horsepower and 210 pounds-feet of torque. Finally, the Ford Focus Electric, maybe the most fun of the bunch to drive, offers 143 horsepower and 184 pounds-feet of torque.

Pricier models by BMW and Mercedes follow the same pattern.

Eric Schaal
Eric Schaal/Auto Cheat Sheet

The BMW i3 ($42,400) offers a solid 170 horsepower and 184 pounds-feet of torque. While those numbers are substantial for any small car, they still fall well short of both Bolt marks at $4,900 more in base price. A look at the Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive ($41,450) likewise reveals a higher price tag with fewer horses (177) and torque (251 pounds-feet) than the Bolt EV.

Performance-wise, only the i3 is capable of hitting 60 miles per hour from a standstill in seven seconds. The Mercedes’s high weight pushes its zero-t0-60 time closer to eight seconds. Chevy’s quoted curb weight for the Bolt (3,580 pounds) makes it likely the run to 60 may be done in fewer than seven seconds.

Along with real-world range at a reasonable price, the electric car that breaks into the mass market will have to deliver advanced tech and a better driving experience. While we have yet to get behind the wheel of a Bolt EV, we expect the power-to-weight ratio to offer the kind of thrills plug-in drivers rave about when it debuts late this year. Until we see what the Tesla Model 3 can do, these specs will serve as the new standard.

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