When the Bolt EV arrives at the dealers late in 2016, there will likely be at lease two trim levels. We've all seen this before and a relevant example is the Volt, which has LT and Premier trim levels. On top of the trim levels are the packages, such as the "Drivers Confidence Package" and "Driver Confidence II Package." For a complete rundown of the feature differences in the Volt, go here
The $37,500 Bolt EV will come "decontented" from what GM has shown. It won't have all the safety features. The rear view mirror will not have the video screen. The wheels may be smaller or less flashy. The headlights may be halogen instead of LED. I strongly expect the powertrain and battery will be the same, but the CCS DC fast charger will be an option. The base version may have fewer paint or interiors colors available.
It will, of course, cost us money to add those features back in. How much they cost will be based on how strong the demand is expected to be which, in turn, is based on things such as the strength of the competition and even the price of oil. Other options that might still be revealed are (only my speculation here) heated steering wheel, sunroof, leather seating, and maybe memory seats. I do not expect any "sporty" trim options, such as different bumpers, spoilers, larger wheels, or different suspension. I also don't expect any CUV-like features, such as increased ground clearance, towing package, or AWD. ...at least initially.
But depending on how the battery-only EV market evolves, GM may be motivated to produce variants of the Bolt EV that lean its character one way or the other. The GM execs and engineers have been very clear that they've positioned the Bolt for the middle of the market. They want it to be seen as a normal car. The dedicated platform allows the battery to be optimally positioned below the floor but that inherently raises the passenger compartment, hence giving it a taller appearance.
As a result, GM marketing wants to call it a crossover. Showcasing the Bolt EV as a crossover also gets it into the rising tide of the small CUV craze, which is the fastest growing vehicle segment. But the Bolt EV doesn't meet the typical CUV criteria, except for possibly a raised seating position. Most importantly, it doesn't have all-wheel drive.
Here is my guess for how GM will evolve the Bolt EV. In 2018, they'll announce an AWD version that has a second electric motor in the rear. This motor will fit very nicely
just aft of the battery.
They will use the space that is below the false floor in the current Bolt EV trunk. The best demonstration of that space I've seen is in this video: 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV Walkaround | Detroit Auto Show
. You can get an idea of its depth, which looks to be about 10 inches.
The addition of AWD does a few notable things. It increases traction but also adds regen capability to all four wheels, beyond just the front. There is an inherent efficiency gain by sharing the acceleration and deceleration forces among two motors on two axles. As an example, the AWD Tesla Model S 85D has better range and acceleration than the lighter weight but RWD-only Model S 85.
In order to reduce the costs for a second motor, it needs to be manufactured in large quantities. It does not need to be the same size as the current front motor, which puts out 200hp and 266lb-ft. I'm wondering if they'll decrease the front motor size and capability and use the same motor for the rear. Maybe they will use a 140hp/175lb-ft motor on both axles for a combined total of 280hp/350lb-ft.
Those two, smaller motors would provide serious acceleration performance and create a car more able to compete with the Tesla Model 3. Sub 6 second acceleration to 60 mph would be easy. The reduced front motor torque would reduce torque steer. The rear motor would add weight, but that would be partially offset by the lighter front motor. The front/rear weight bias would be closer to 50/50 helping create a more neutral handling car. We can hope that they also add a multilink rear suspension, in combination with the rear motor, to once again increase handling prowess.
But to extract the necessary power out of the batteries, which are currently limited to 160kW (215 hp), they'll likely need to increase the battery capacity. So using the same battery volume, and assuming slow but steady advancement in battery technology, maybe they increase the battery capacity by 25% to 75 kWh. That larger battery, in combination with a more efficient drivetrain, might yield a 30% increase in range to above 260 mi.
So how does this fantasy AWD version compare to the Bolt EV we know of today?
2017 Bolt EV
Initial sales: late 2016
Drivetrain: FWD, 200hp/266lb-ft
Rear Cargo: 16.9 cu ft
Weight: 3,580 lb
0-60: <7 sec
2019 Bolt EV AWD
Initial sales: 2019
Drivetrain: AWD, 280hp/350 lb-ft
Rear Cargo: 11 cu ft
Weight: 3,800 lb
Range: 260+ mi
0-60: 5.5 sec
This gives GM a premium version of the Bolt EV with AWD flexibility. The battery and motor costs will be higher, which will be justified by the increased range and performance. The only functional loss is the reduced rear cargo space, which is admittedly already on the small side.
There are two big obstacles to a 2019 Bolt EV AWD. First, will the market support a spruced up Bolt EV that encroaches on the expected luxury, performance and AWD capability of the Tesla Model 3? Second, will battery technology evolve fast enough to allow the increased output needed to power the two motors?