Advanced tech in a car for today
Although General Motors is bullish on the whole notion of people driving around in electric vehicles (EVs), for the most part that’s something that is off into the future because there aren’t a whole lot of EVs out there for people to drive—vehicles from GM or any other OEM, for that matter.
GM has had the Bolt EV in dealerships since 2017, a compact car. Compact cars of any type aren’t exactly high on the lists of consumer gotta-haves, and let’s face it: GM’s offering in this space hasn’t been such that people are likely to think when they go out shopping, “Hmm. . . I think I’ll go check out GM compact models.”
Which is to say that the company needs to modify its approach, and with the Bolt EUV it has done that—a bit.
According to program engineer Rob Manitian, the Bolt EUV shares no sheet metal with the Bolt EV. That said, the Bolt EV has undergone a midcycle refresh so in its new execution, it has a different look, as well.
The rationale for the Bolt EUV is to make the vehicle have more of a “utility” appearance, because if there is something that market wants—and that Chevy has on offer from small to medium to large—its something that seems “utile.”
Seems is pretty much the operative word for the Bolt EUV when it comes to utility vis-à-vis its stable mate.
That is, the Bolt EUV is bigger than the Bolt EV:
The EV has a wheelbase of 102.4 inches; the EUV 105.3.
The EV has an overall length of 163.2 inches; the EUV 169.5.
The height difference is just 0.2 inches.
The size difference is manifest in the rear legroom:
The EV offers 36 inches; the EUV 39.1.
But here is where the seems kicks in: Cargo volume.
The cargo volume behind the rear seat in the EV is 16.6 cubic feet and it is 57 cubic feet with the rear seat folded.
The cargo volume behind the rear seat in the EUV is 16.3 cubic feet and it is 56.9 cubic feet with the rear seat folded.
While those numbers are not significantly different—especially that 0.1 cubic foot difference—one might imagine that the EUV might offer a significant difference when it comes to accommodating stuff, which it clearly doesn’t. (OK. It has standard roof rails. But. . . .)
If you’re not putting someone in that rear seat, then one could say that the choice between the two is pretty much a wash, given that the vehicles have the same platform and propulsion system.
The vehicle is powered by a 150-kW permanent magnet motor. (A.k.a., 200 hp) There is a 65-kWh lithium-ion battery pack that provides an estimated range of 250 miles on a full charge. With a Level 2 charger (240 V) the battery goes to a full charge in 7 hours; with a DC fast charge system, up to 95 miles in 30 minutes.
Because of the increase in the wheelbase, there is a different driving dynamic, one that is appreciated when using. . . Super Cruise.
That’s right: the hands-free driver assistance technology that has been heretofore available only in Cadillac models has moved to the Bolt EUV.
The Super Cruise system makes use of sensors—radar, cameras, on-board—and a LiDAR map. (No, it doesn’t have LiDAR but the mapping of some 200,000 miles of roads—like freeways—that has been done with a LiDAR system. What does that mean? Simply that it is really accurate. In addition to which, GM has a contract with a company that is out there right now, scanning more roadways and updating existing ones, information that goes to Super Cruise via over-the-air updates.)
You activate the system, set speed for adaptive cruise, and assuming you’re on roadway that is good to go, you center the car in the lane, it then gives you a lightbar on the steering wheel indication that it is ready, so you push the button a second time. . .and remove your hands from the steering wheel.
The Bolt EUV then maintains speed—adjusted based on the set spacing via the adaptive cruise—and maintains the lane. The road curves; the steering wheel makes the adjustment.
You are not permitted to take a nap or read a newspaper because there is an unobtrusive “Driver Attention System” that uses infrared lighting and a small camera on top of the steering column that keeps an eye on your eyes (even through sunglasses) so that if you’re paying insufficient attention to what’s going on, the system let’s you know that’s not acceptable behavior.
But to return to the wheelbase for a moment. When driving at freeway speeds in the adjacency to big rigs, unless you’re in a full-size SUV or pickup truck, you’re going to feel buffeting. The addition six inches of wheelbase undoubtedly helps keep things from feeling too unsettling when the Bolt EUV is, essentially, driving itself (I suppose that this point I ought to have in big red letters something that says YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR BEING IN CONTROL OF THE VEHICLE because as modern as it is, you’re still in charge).
The interior of the vehicle is fresh and contemporary without being too overtly “futuristic” in execution. I actually wish it did seem to be a bit more advanced because let’s face it: this is still leading-edge technology compared to about 95% of everything else on the road, so those who are adopting it ought to get a nod that they’re participating in the creation of the future. (It is worth noting that the front end of a white Bolt EUV does resemble a Star Wars stormtrooper, however.)
But perhaps the biggest takeaway of the Bolt EUV is that while it is a technologically sophisticated vehicle, it is a normal vehicle. It is a vehicle that anyone can drive without feeling as though they’re in something that is uncomfortably different (“Uh, how do I ________________”).
Which is what will really matter in order to get more people behind the wheels of EVs.–gsv