While you weren’t looking, the electric vehicle movement has caught fire (pun intended). There are currently more than 20 pure electric vehicles on sale in this country from Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Ford, Hyundai, Jaguar, Kia, Mini, Nissan, Porsche, Tesla, Volvo and Volkswagen. They range in price from $38,000 to $125,000.
On top of that, there are more than 20 plug-in hybrid electrics (electric motor and gas engine backup) from some of the afore-mentioned manufacturers as well as Chrysler, Honda, Mercedes, and Toyota.
Worried about a place to plug in? There are more than 160 such stations throughout Nova Scotia – so far. More are being added monthly.
Think electric vehicles are too expensive? The government can help.
True, but you have to factor in government incentives of up to $5,000 from the feds and the same from most provinces – Nova Scotia is the cheapskate at $3,000.
Factor in that $8,000 – $10,000, and the fact operating costs are about 40-50% less than for a fossil-fueled vehicle. I’m not talking merely about fuel costs. Don’t forget, there are no maintenance issues like oil/filter changes, transmission and coolant fluid replacement, etc.
A good starting place for those considering an electric vehicle is the least expensive of the lot – the Chevrolet Bolt EV.
At $40,000 including freight, it undercuts the rest, and if you buy one in NB or PEI you can get $10,000 off that through rebates. In NS ,the combination of Federal and Provincial rebates is $8,000.
Don’t confuse the Chevrolet Bolt EV as a base model or a plastic-lined cheapo.
The standard equipment list includes automatic climate control, power windows, locks and mirrors, heated seats, steering wheel and mirrors, cruise control, LED headlights, remote keyless entry, tilt & telescope and a power liftgate.
This is a second-generation Bolt EV. The first came to market as a 2017 model. GM has lots of experience building and selling these electric cars – more than 100,000 to date, 13,000 of them in Canada.
The new-for-2022 model year Bolt EV gets a new look inside and out and the ability to go further between charges.
The exterior changes are mainly around the front end which gets a more aggressive look. The changes inside are more significant. The front seats, often criticized in the outgoing model, have been totally redesigned and are both supportive and comfy for long sits.
There is a new steering wheel, a large (26-cm) new infotainment screen.
The experience of having those 100,000 previous generation Bolts on the road shows in several areas.
The engineers have re-juggled the regenerative braking system – a brief side trip here for those unfamiliar with regeneration in electric vehicles.
The braking system in any vehicle uses brake pads squeezing a round disc or rotor attached to each wheel. The resulting friction generates a terrific amount of heat. The rotors commonly reach temperatures of at least 200 degrees Celsius in normal use, and up to 1,000 degrees under severe use.
The regenerative braking system in electric vehicles converts this heat into energy which is used to recharge the big 65-kWh lithium-ion battery pack.
When you touch the brakes of an electric vehicle, the system goes into recharge mode. On some electric vehicles paddles behind the steering wheel can be used for additional braking/recharging.
On the new Bolt, braking intensity can be controlled by how hard you pull the paddle. Personally I find this really slick, allowing the driver to slow the vehicle without touching the brake pedal.
It is called one-pedal driving and I managed to go several days without touching the brakes! It is also a safe driving exercise if you chose to use it, because it forces you to look and plan ahead.
You can think of the Chevy Bolt as a well thought-out and equipped compact car.
The powerful electric motor drives the front wheels. It gets power from the battery pack positioned low down between the front and rear seats. With 266 lb.ft. of torque available from idle, acceleration is brisk to say the least. Power trails off some as speed increases but it’s always more than adequate for this 1,626 kg vehicle.
As mentioned, the new front seats are great. There is more space in the second row than the exterior appearance would have you expect and there is decent cargo space behind the rear seat.
There is no transmission but buttons on the console are used to select forward, reverse or park.
The infotainment system is up-to-date, easily deciphered and pairs with either Apple Car Play or Android Auto. There is an integrated WiFi hot spot and communication between vehicle and owner through the myChevrolet app on your smart phone. You can use this to locate the nearest charge station. But, I found it failed to find them all.
The Bolt comes with a full suite of active and passive safety features.
This ability of the new Bolt to go more than 400 kilometres on a single charge makes it very practical for all but the longest commutes/trips.
If your normal daily commute or activity is less than say 50 kilometres, you would only need to charge overnight every four days or so with the included dual level charging cord that plugs into Level 1 (110 volt) or Level 2 (240-volt) outlets.
The standard 110-volt plug-in will provide six kilometres of range per hour of charge. A 240-volt Level 2 charge will provide 41 km per hour. A standard DC fast-charge station, such as those positioned throughout the region by various entities, will provide 160 km of range after a 30-minute charge.
For those who have been waiting to get into an electric vehicle – Chevrolet has made it very attractive. Want more room? Check out the Bolt EUV – a slightly lengthened version I’ll report on here soon.
FACTS & FIGURES – 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EV 1LT
As tested: $40,988, including freight
Chevrolet Infotainment 3 Plus system – six speakers, 26-cm colour touchscreen, Bluetooth streaming for two devices, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capable, cloud connected personalization
Automatic emergency braking, front pedestrian braking, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, forward collision alert, lane change and blind zone alert, rear cross traffic alert, rear park assist
Grey ghost metallic paint, $495, 17-in machined aluminum wheels, $395
permanent-magnet synchronous 150 kW AC electric motor, 200-horsepower, 266 lb.ft. of torque, 65 kWh lithium-ion battery, single-speed direct drive, front-wheel drive
Length, 4,145-mm; wheelbase, 2,600-mm; width, 1,765-mm, weight, 1,628-kg
Hyundai Ioniq or Kona, Kia Niro or Soul, Nissan Leaf