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The Last of the Chevy Bolts

The Last of the Chevy Bolts

This past month, SMP delivered our last Bolt EV and Bolt EUV. While we’re sad to see them discontinued, we are very excited for the new platform GM is using for its upcoming electric vehicles. GM’s new Ultium platform is configurable in different shapes, sizes (trucks have their battery cells aligned vertically, while more compact passenger vehicles they are horizontal) and drivetrain configurations (Front Wheel Drive, Rear Wheel Drive, All Wheel Drive). With all our electric vehicles sharing the same foundation, we expect huge savings that will be passed on to our customers. This, in turn, will result in affordable electric cars.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with customers on our last remaining Bolts, as well as a weekend spent with the Bolt EUV. I’d like to share some of my impressions of the Bolt and point out some of its outstanding features. While the Bolt EV and EUVs were fantastic offerings, we are all excited to see what the Ultium platform can do to make electric vehicles viable for the mass market.

At the time of writing, we have two Hummer EVs as well as a Blazer EV, which are Ultium vehicles. Please feel free to come check them out at Stratford Motor Products! You can keep an eye on our all-electric inventory here.

Driving Impressions

For those who haven’t driven an electric vehicle, one of the first thoughts you’ll have is “is it on?” We have become accustomed to the startup noises of an internal combustion engine, but with an electric car, there is no initial “fire up.” Other than the information displayed on the dash and some illuminated lights, there is no indication that the vehicle is on.

When you shift into drive, you notice the immediate power of the electric motor and the smoothness of the direct-drive transmission. There is no lag while you wait for the motor to rev up to its ideal operating range. This means you don’t have the jerkiness associated with gear shifts.  Anyone who drives with a dog in the car will immediately appreciate this!

It doesn’t matter what speed you’re at, the car is instantly responsive and feels great. The Bolts are relatively small and light vehicles. With the equivalent of 200 hp, this car is a bit of a rocket!! It’s might not be a sub-six second car, but it’s very easily a sub-six-and-a-half-second car, which is something most people aren’t used to in a compact car.

What is instantaneous torque?

As there are no gear changes, it’s technically direct drive. This means that when the motor is moving, the wheels are moving). Also, reverse gear is just reversing the polarity of the motor (think +/- on a battery) so that it spins backwards. It means you instantly feel the motor accelerating at maximum power. Internal Combustion (ICE) cars use gears so that the narrow operating range of the motor can be utilized. With an electric motor, because the power delivery is so consistent, you can have great performance at any speed without the gears. Check out this great article about instantaneous torque if you’re interested in more information.

What is regenerative braking?

When your vehicle is accelerating, it’s using power from the battery. With a traditional ICE vehicle, only the brakes and transmission slow the vehicle down. While the electric car has brakes, it can also harvest energy as it slows. GM vehicles have a unique feature in the form of a paddle that you can pull to engage the regenerative braking. No other manufacturer allows you access to this feature directly from the steering wheel.

I’m usually a “set it and forget it,” meaning I don’t want to fiddle with stuff (like a paddle) while I’m driving, but in a traffic jam the regenerative braking paddle really came into its own.

EV owners will often make it a game of how efficient they can be. The Bolt gives you feedback on your driving habits and how they are affecting your range. Slamming on the accelerator and the brakes all the time consumes more energy, just like it would with a traditional car. The feedback means you can make changes to your driving style or see what drive modes work best for you, in order to maximize your range.

While I find the regenerative braking paddle to be super handy in a traffic jam, but don’t bother to use it for day-to-day driving. My preference is one foot driving in town, with adaptive cruise taking over on the highway.

What is one foot driving?

One foot driving is nothing new to EVs, as Tesla is famous for it. Pushing down on the accelerator propels you forward, but when you ease back, it engages the regenerative braking which slows you down.

What sets the Bolt apart is that you can easily turn this off and on with an easily accessible switch on the center console. If you go to vehicle settings in the infotainment system, you can access a “high” mode that will be even more aggressive with the regenerative braking when you lift your foot. It’s possible to drive without using the brakes at all. Of course, the fantastic four-wheel disc brakes are there in case you need to quickly come to a stop.

Handling and suspension

One of the pillars of electric vehicles is that they have a lower center of gravity. They are by nature heavy, but the most weight is in the battery pack, and this can be packaged to the floor of the vehicle. Designers need to make less room for the drivetrain components, so there is more room inside the cabin thanks to a longer wheelbase. The longer wheelbase has the added benefit of more stability at higher speeds. Think about all the space saved at the front of the car – no more cooling or exhaust taking up space, which leaves more legroom for you and your passengers.

Handling was exceptional, and the vehicle handled bumps and railroad crossings without the rear end losing focus. The Bolt has fully independent front suspension, with semi-independent suspension at the rear. The ride was comfortable, with responsive steering and provided a good road feel.

What Luxury Cars Set Out To Do

Overall, after spending an extended period of time with the Bolt EUV, I’m reminded of the qualities that luxury cars are often judged by. It’s quiet, smooth, handles well, and provides a comfortable and immersive cockpit for the driver. We’re happy that our last two Bolts found happy homes. Congratulations to Kimberly and Lindsay for becoming part of the SMP family!!!

We’re confident that GM’s Ultium platform will be offering options that are feature rich, have great range, and the ability to charge quickly during long journeys. Pricing has been a concern for many trying to enter the EV market, so we are excited to see more affordable options come to the table.

If you have any questions about any of the vehicles on our lot, EVs, or cars and trucks in general, feel free to email me.