A New Electric Car for $20,000?
While much of the excitement about electric cars is around new, high-end models with sexy features and exceptional performance, one of the main reasons that people buy EVs in the first place is for affordability. Electric cars help drivers save on fuel and maintenance costs, and lower cost of ownership is one of the primary benefits of switching from gasoline. But if you’re looking for affordability in a new EV, the choices out there can seem pretty thin, as the average sale price of a new electric car is over $60,000.
That’s why we continue to be such fans of the Chevy Bolt, one of the original, and still one of the best, electric vehicles on the market. Compact outside, spacious inside, good to drive, and with an excellent set of features, it’s not sexy or exciting – but it’s just a great car, and thanks to recent price cuts, it’s also more affordable than ever. Because it’s made in the USA, in Orion Township, Michigan, the Bolt’s starting MSRP of $26,595 could, with federal incentives, mean a purchase price before taxes and fees of under $20,000 – making it not only the most affordable new electric car in the U.S., but also a third of the price of the “average” electric car.
Small Car, Big EV Range and Features
For that money, you get a lot more than a third of the capability. Indeed, look past its pedestrian styling, and you’ll find that the compact Chevy Bolt is one of the most capable and well-rounded electric cars on the market. It has good range – thanks to a 65-kWh battery and efficient drivetrain, it can go 259 miles on a full charge according to the EPA. That’s way more range than you’ll get from the more-expensive Mini Cooper S Electric or Nissan Leaf, and on par with some much more expensive EVs.
The Bolt’s on-board charger allows Level 2 charging at home at up to 11 kW – better than some very high-end vehicles – and Level 3 charging at 55 kW means that it can add up to 100 miles of range in 30 minutes of charging. Performance is also sprightly. The single electric motor provides 200 horsepower, moving the Bolt along with gusto.
Other advanced features include “regen on demand,” which uses a steering wheel-mounted paddle to control the amount of brake regeneration, and the option of one-pedal driving, which allows the driver to speed up and slow down by simply modulating the accelerator pedal. Nestled into the dashboard is Chevrolet’s latest infotainment system, with a 10.2-inch touchscreen with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
On the safety front, the Chevy Safety Assist of driver assistance features is standard. All Bolt models include automatic emergency braking, front pedestrian braking, lane keeping assist with lane departure warning, a following distance indicator, forward collision alert, and automatic high beam assist for the headlights. Adaptive cruise control is available on the more-expensive 2LT model, which has a starting MSRP of $29,795 before incentives and comes with perforated leather trim instead of cloth.
Amazing Space and Versatility
It is remarkable how much space the Bolt packs into its compact shape. Making full use of the battery as a “skateboard,” it perches its spacious cabin on top of a tiny footprint, making this a compact, maneuverable package that actually has big-car space as well as big-car range. You sit nice and upright, almost like you’re in a crossover, with great visibility all around, impressive rear-seat room, and a spacious cargo area. Indeed, if you fold down the rear seats, 57 cubic feet of cargo space is available.
If you’re looking for a little more height and attitude, there’s also a Bolt EUV (electric utility vehicle) available. It doesn’t have all-wheel drive, but it does have a raised ride height, some exterior body cladding, and increased ride height to tackle light terrain. EPA-estimated range drops to 247 miles, however, and the starting MSRP rises to $28,195, or $32,695 for the upscale Premier model. It shares the Bolt’s intelligently-configured interior and high-tech features.
But us, we’d stick to the basic Bolt. For an all-round urban EV that can sometimes venture into the country, the Bolt is truly hard to beat – and a great example of the ingenuity that legacy brands like Chevrolet are capable of. It’s a great car, and it’s also a great deal.