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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
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
Battery: 60kWh
Rear Cargo: 16.9 cu ft
Weight: 3,580 lb
Range: 200+
0-60: <7 sec

2019 Bolt EV AWD
Initial sales: 2019
Drivetrain: AWD, 280hp/350 lb-ft
Battery: 75kWh
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?
 

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It certainly looks like a possibility.

I think the efficiency gain wouldn't be so much because the motors are on both axles as because there would be two smaller motors running at higher loads. The Volt also uses two motors to increase efficiency, it's just that they're both driving the front wheels. There would be some gain by allowing the rear axle to regen rather than just using friction brakes, but the Bolt already has regen on the front axle which is the most important one for braking.

I bet they wouldn't add multi-link rear because of space considerations.

It does look to me like AWD was a consideration in the battery and rear suspension layout. Market considerations will be the determinant.
 

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Loss of cargo space shouldn't be an issue as long as they allow the seats to fold down. Most cars only have the front seats occupied. It will just be during that odd moment that it will be an issue.
 

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I'm used to AWD cars so is FWD a big change? Debating if I should wait and see if Chevy is going to come out with an AWD version in the future.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Well first, let me reiterate that my top post is 100% speculation. I have not seen or heard anything from GM that indicates they will make an AWD version. A second motor adds weight, cost, and reduces cargo room, but it does seem like a reasonable progression of the Bolt EV platform.

I don't like FWD, at all. I spin the tires and get into traction control in my Spark EV every single time I drive it. That's because the motor has high torque, the tires are small, and the front tires are also responsible for turning the car. The Bolt EV will be similar, but probably not as bad since the motor has lower torque, the tires are larger, and more weight on the tires.

I recommend driving the Bolt EV when it's out and reassessing then. Maybe GM will have given a hint at future models by that point.
 

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One thing i'm thinking will help push towards AWD if they actually see potential for it is with increased sales volume and distribution with fleet versions. Now seeing that in comparison to the Nissan Leaf will be interesting, don't think Nissan has plans for fleet, yet.
 

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Will definitely need to give the Bolt EV a test drive in the winter if tire spins are a concern. Wouldn't want the tires to spin every time I stop and start. Not sure what I would do if the FWD spins and they don't plan to come out with an AWD.
 

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Getting studded tires might help but some places don't allow it. On the plus side its hard to spot them. A cop would have to get real close and in areas where most people don't run them... it won't be the first thing on a cops mind.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
In winter, the first consideration should be snow tires (not full monty studded tires) replacing the OEM all season tires. In many cases AWD just gets you to the scene of the accident faster. Snow tires help you steer and stop.

The Bolt EV has sophisticated traction control that will keep the tires from spinning, unless you're being very aggressive it won't even kick in.
 

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In winter, the first consideration should be snow tires (not full monty studded tires) replacing the OEM all season tires. In many cases AWD just gets you to the scene of the accident faster. Snow tires help you steer and stop.

The Bolt EV has sophisticated traction control that will keep the tires from spinning, unless you're being very aggressive it won't even kick in.
Exactly, steering and stopping is the most important, and with that comes climbing up inclines and going down declines. Grip basically. Once you don't have that... you're done for.
 

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Makes sense for them to go AWD on an electric vehicle if it adds regen capability to all four wheels and increase efficiency.
 

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Indeed. All of that combined makes for a well rounded package, since it has just about all the big positive points you could want... AWD and Regen... a recipe for global sales and not something that might just appeal to some markets.
 

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Exactly, steering and stopping is the most important, and with that comes climbing up inclines and going down declines. Grip basically. Once you don't have that... you're done for.

Four tires with grip is twice as good as two tires with grip. This, from a person who lives with 160 inches of snow per winter in a "normal" year (last year 200+ inches).
 

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Had an ice storm where I live last year and a huge snowstorm the year before. It was a nightmare but my AWD with snow tires got me through both.

Maybe Chevy can come out with an AWD for the more northern cities?
 

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Even in some icey conditions snow tires won't help, it starts to become a case of having to be very mindful of where and how you drive along with some aid of the tires to get going from a stop and coming to a stop.
 

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That's extreme weather you're talking about. And doesn't deter from hoping for a Chevy Bolt with 280hp/350 lb-ft. Probably going to have to wait a few more years until it becomes a reality because Chevy many need to increase battery density to fit more in a vehicle for longer range and more power.
 

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It sure doesn't since it all comes down to how power put down to the wheels is controlled and being all electric chances are they have more/better control to do this than with a traditional gasoline engine.
 

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I think to stay competitive, Chevy will need to move on to AWD EV's because Honda built a prototype electric sports car based on the based on a CR-Z last year. If that goes into production, Chevy should probably match them and come out with an AWD Bolt too.
 

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I don't think that's enough of a reason for them but there is indeed a market for AWD EV's as much as there a market for regular AWD vehicles.
 

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The two biggest downsides for AWD are weight and cost. In order to be fuel efficient, the Bolt EV needs to be light, or as light as it can get with all those batteries and it's meant to be an electric car for the masses so it can't be too expensive.

Maybe 2019 is a good time estimated for an AWD electric car, gives Chevy time to refine the batteries.
 
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