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Look, I want to say at the start that I am not an elitist. In another post I commented on, I was accused of "first world problems" when I commented that I drove what appeared to be the cheapest car in my neighborhood. Obviously, I chose the Bolt, and when I'm driving it, I am extremely satisfied with pretty much everything about it. I am the most ardent fan of PHEV's and EV's, having driven them as our primary vehicles for about 8 years now. But, here's the problem with the Bolt and most other EV's, and as I see it, the reason that they either need to fix this or get out of the EV game.

Like it or not, most people buying EV's in these days of early adoption are upper middle and upper class income individuals. Many of the new EV models coming out soon are more aimed at using the incredible torque that EV's possess to create luxury cars that can smoke most ICE cars from 0-60, but cost north of $75K (E-Tron, I-Pace, Taycan). For 200+ mile cars at less than $45K, what do we have? The same cars we've had for years now, plus the Kona and Niro. I don't include Tesla here because even though you can sometimes buy a Model 3 for $45K, you often have to wait weeks or months. Plus, this comment is more aimed at the mainline manufacturers. Anyway, what do all of these other cars have in common? They are all very small hatchbacks that look very similar to each other and also look strikingly like the cheapest cars that respective manufacturers make. Check out the attached pics. Each one of these represents the cheapest car from their respective manufacturer. Look like a car that you know?

How is it, with all of the manufacturing power behind these brands that they cannot make something that is at least a step up styling and quality-wise from the cheapest cars out there? Most of these cars that are similar to these small hatchbacks go for around $20K. I understand that there's lots of expensive tech in our cars, but the most expensive part is the battery, and even that shouldn't cost much for than about $8K. That still leaves an awful lot of money on the table to use. In my mind, I have to wonder about motives. Is it perhaps that they are afraid that if they design an attractive vehicle for less than $45K that goes 250 miles on a charge that they will sell too many of them and cannibalize their other lines?

The reason that this is fresh on my mind are a couple of interactions I've had with individuals recently after returning my 2017 lease Volt and buying the Bolt. I had never received negative feedback on my Volts, other than it was a little cramped, but the styling was decent and the interior was actually really nice and upscale. Twice this week I have had people in the Bolt make comments that this just doesn't look like a car that I would drive due to the econobox looks, the less than plush ride, the cheap feeling seats, and the hard plastic wonderland that is the interior. Probably part of the problem is neither one of these individuals were car people and all they go on is looks. They don't appreciate the great electronics, the awesome EV driving experience, or the other things that us owners value. If you're a car guy like me, you know how well reviewed and regarded the Bolt is. And it definitely lives up to the reputation. Ironically, the only really positive comments I've heard were from Tesla owner at work who I have shown the car to. They are very impressed with it, especially when I tell them how much I paid for it versus what they paid.

With all this said, I really hope GM is planning on putting their tech into a car that you don't have to be a car aficionado to appreciate and keep the price somewhat affordable. I really thought that by 2021, there would be a lot more options available that don't require a car payment that is more than my first mortgage. They are going to run out of early adopter car people soon and have to rely on everyday people to buy EV's. And a lot of them aren't going to buy something that looks so cheap, nor are they going to pay $50K+ to buy something that looks like a car that they would be proud to drive. Like it or not, most people buy cars for the looks, styling, and yes, the "keeping up with the neighbors" aspect. The Bolt and the other offerings definitely don't satisfy this desire, so GM and the other mainline car companies had better figure something else out, or EV's might just stay the niche segment that they have occupied up to now.


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I think that GM and others are figuring that out. Nissan came right out and said they are getting away from the "economy" end of the market, and GM is focusing on the Cadillac brand. Hyundai has announced an upscale, high performance EV they will be building. Certainly the Hummer pickup will not look like an econo-box. Most companies were thinking more "compliance" and they thought and aimed much too low. Tesla had the marketing right when they came out with the Roadster and worked their way lower. Other companies have learned their lesson and are adjusting accordingly. I'm glad GM made the Bolt. I never have been one to follow the crowd or let others dictate my choices. The Bolt is just the car I want, though I would have been more happy with a small AWD PHEV pickup with about 50 miles of EV range. That will likely never happen. I was most interested in the Volt, but it took less than 10 seconds sitting in one to know that it was much too cramped for me, which you also noted. Initially I dismissed the Bolt due to a generally inadequate public charging infrastructure. But, a year and a half later, I went for the Bolt and decided I'd just deal with the charging issue, which has bit my bum on occasion. In Oregon, driving an EV does shrink one's horizon which is one reason I've kept my 4x4 for now. In 5 years that might change. Charging is still the biggest issue for the larger public and rightly so. No one really wants to feel like they are on a leash.
 

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I paid $27400 out the door for my loaded 2020 Bolt LT 3 weeks ago, I don't think there is a better bargain anywhere in the automotive market,period. And not just me-many others are taking advantage of the great deals again this month. I couldn't be happier with the deal OR the car!
 

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I hear you on the interior complaints. The interior niceness/quality/comfort is the only reason i'm seriously considering moving to the Mach-E in a couple of years. I love my Bolt don't get me wrong but I would like something that is a bit more plush, cushier seats and a bit less harsh suspension.
 

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Yeah, I do wish I could've bought something a bit bigger, and/or with AWD. If you want AWD, Audi and Tesla are the only options. Maybe Porsche too? The rumors indicate that GM is going to be dropping something along those lines in the next year or two.

I'd willingly pay Tesla prices for an AWD vehicle with similar interior capacity and the benefit of NOT having to deal with Tesla. Supposedly great cars, but as someone who started his EV adventure with the misadventure of ordering a Model 3 - the company is horrible. My Model 3 experience was the second worst customer service experience I've ever had.
 

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I actually don't mind the interior at all. I've driven nicer cars with soft-touch materials and leather everywhere so objectively the Bolt LT ranks very low on the interior-quality scale. The airplane-like triangle plastic is interesting at least... But when it comes down to it, I needed a commuter and the Bolt for me is a great commuter and extremely practical. I did not buy it to impress anyone. It's not a need I seem to have and I would not have wanted to pay more for leather seats or a fancier interior.
 

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The reason why EVs aren’t more affordable is batteries, batteries, batteries.

They’re still very expensive, large, and heavy. This drives the form of “entry-level” EVs.

As for the Bolt, GM really has no excuse when it comes to some of the deficiencies in the interior, such as the widely panned seating and cheap interior. We’re four years into Bolt sales with little or no cabin upgrades. GM can do better.

Not sure what the source is for the OP’s claim that battery cost is about $8k, that would translate into a cost per kWh for the 2020 Bolt of about $120, much lower than any other estimates I’ve seen, most of which are around $200 per kWh for a complete battery pack.

As for the Bolt overall body design, I really like it, as a hatchback is very practical. I can fit fifteen 3-cu-ft bags of garden mulch into the Bolt with the rear seats folded, and I can easily load my road bike without removing the front wheel. It’s a very practical design. Try that in a Model 3.

My first Bolt was a 2017 LT, and I’ve just leased my second, a 2020 LT, so I’m obviously a fan, but the cost for any 200+ mile “entry-level“ EV remains stubbornly stuck at around $40k, my guess is that the battery cost isn’t dropping nearly as quickly as many have predicted.

Many industry analysts predict price parity for comparable EV / ICE vehicles by mid-decade. Based upon the EV price trend from 2017 to 2020 that estimate may be overly optimistic.
 

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If the human race is to survive, we must change this...our brain dead belief that we are demigods. I get a bit nauseous every time I hear wealthy folks going on about their god given right to rip through the atmosphere at blinding speed in a chariot.
 

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We have two Bolts, and love them. Keeping them washed, waxed and shining goes a long way for looks. Remember that most people are idiots when it comes to cars. Perhaps Chevy should add a "bling" option for the Bolts, where they hang some fins and chrome on it. It worked for Honda, as they dressed-up their Civic with it. Overall to me, cars are beginning to look more and more alike anyway. Seems that the most popular body design is converging on the mini SUV look - which the Bolt has nailed...
 

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I take a different approach in my view of EV's in that I think what is needed is an EV that covers every style of vehicle available: mini people-mover, compact, sedan, pickup, minivan, SUV, CUV, and sports car (and I mean real sports car, not just a quick sedan like a Tesla). If you watch what goes by on a crossroad while sitting at a red light, you'll notice there are very few sleek vehicles that are designed to make a teen boy's heart race. Most cars are frumpy soccer mom type vehicles, older sedans, etc. and that's coming from someone who lives in a pretty "expensive" sports car town in FL. The answer as to why most people don't buy "exciting" cars is that many people go for function over form and don't care as much about impressing people (or they have other ways to impress people).

Mike
 

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1. The Bolt isn't profitable even at the current build level and price. The battery expense cuts into the budget for everything else, and the vehicle was built to a price point. It was never intended to sell in large quantities, but instead to sell a target amount. Not quite my definition of a compliance car (only sold in CARB states), but not much more.

2. GM has already announced that Cadillac will be their primary EV brand. That aligns with your point that EV buyers are wealthier and expect higher levels of luxury.

3. Regarding getting past the early adopter phase, we're not even past the innovators phase. To do that requires batteries to get better; a lot better. In my crude estimation, batteries need to get twice as good (as an overall value proposition) to begin seriously displacing ICE vehicles. That means being able to sell $20k EVs to the masses and have a margin left over for profit. Currently the lowest MSRP is about $35k for the cheapest EVs. Industry experts say Tesla has reduced the manufacturing cost better than any other EV on their Model 3, yet they essentially break even selling the SR at ~$36,000.



As I'm constantly saying, the problem is that batteries suck. Even with a $7,500 federal subsidy and local subsidies amounting to $2,500 or more, EVs represent 2% of US sales. Imagine what would happen if there was $10k in subsidies available for the RAV4 and nothing else. We'd see 90% of purchases going to the RAV4 because it would be such a good value to people, yet we don't see this for EVs. That implies that EVs have got to get somewhere around $10k "better", and most of that comes down to the only thing that's terrible about them; the battery. It's essentially a $10k fuel tank, that doesn't hold much "fuel", that takes an eternity to "fill", that requires environmental regulation (heating/cooling), that decreases in "size" over time, that weighs a lot, that takes up a lot of space... it's worse in every way to a fuel tank by far except for the big advantage of being able to fill it at home, the relatively cheap cost of electricity, and the fact that it doesn't use petrol.
 

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Your results may vary, but some might say GM hit the sweet spot the "aspirational" manufacturers couldn't reach.

As for me, I never give a rat's-ass about what others think about what I'm driving. The Bolt is perfect for our daily use and we plan on keeping it until there's a quantum improvement in the technology.

BTW, in 2017, when we bought our Bolt, there were those who questioned the decision, "you know there'll be better tech coming sooner" as an excuse for not buying or for leasing the Bolt. To a person, those who leased told me they wish they'd bought instead, because the lease miles are too limited for the fun of a BEV. Those who held off leasing or buying the Bolt waiting for better realized they've missed out on three years of BEV goodness.

jack vines
 

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Yes. Those who imagine they will ever get an EV SUV as cheap as an ICE, that will go as far, and fuel as fast, are delusional.
Anyone who thinks these horseless carriages are ever going to replace a horse are delusional.
 

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Your results may vary, but I never give a rat's-ass about what others think about what I'm driving. The Bolt is perfect for our daily use and we plan on keeping it until there's a quantum improvement in the technology.

BTW, in 2017 there were those who "knew there'll be better coming sooner" as an excuse for not buying or for leasing the Bolt. To a person, those who leased told me they wish they'd bought instead, because the lease miles are too limited for the fun of a BEV. Those who held off leasing or buying the Bolt waiting for better realized they've missed out on three years of BEV goodness.

jack vines
Back in 2017 the Bolt was pretty much the only game in town for a reasonably affordable 200+ mile EV. I leased back then because I didn’t qualify for the federal tax credit.

Now, 2020, and, to me, the Bolt is still the only reasonably affordable 200+ mile EV.

The only thing that’s changed is my lease cost, it’s gotten a lot cheaper.
 

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A certain amount of it is simple physics. Because batteries make electric vehicles heavy, they need need to be very aerodynamic to get decent mileage on the highway. This basically leads you in one of three directions:
1. Sedan (maximize the areodynamics)
2. Huge-o monstrous battery pack (maximize the "fuel")
2. Hatchback (compromise between areo and cargo capacity)

The problem with #1 is that sedans are not seen as popular anymore (though IMO Tesla's vehicles are challenging this; people's vehicle preferences is mostly caused by marketing after all). The problem with #2 is that it's too expensive for most people to afford at this point in the battery technology curve. So that leaves #3: make it a hatchback. This gives the vehicle acceptable areo plus the large cargo capacity that people crave, while minimizing the required size of the battery.

Now, you can make a hatchback look more "conventional" by making it boxier, longer, and overall turning it into a mini SUV, which I guess people are calling a crossover these days because they don't like the term "hatchback". But the more you do this, the more you lose range and need a bigger battery pack. It's all about trade-offs.

Finally, regarding the whole "ew gross, hatchbacks" thing, some of us don't feel the need to drive around in a fancy, expensive-looking car. I would not consider myself a "car person" either (until the Bolt!) and I've always chosen my vehicles for practicality. That's what the Bolt's got in droves! And I think you would be hard-pressed to call it ugly. The BMW i3... yes, that's an ugly electric car. :) But the Bolt? Nah. It's fine. Not every vehicle needs to look like a sports car or a tank. Some of us are fine with our vehicles projecting an image of "I'm a practical person" rather than "I'm cool and slick" or "I'm a big tough badass."
 

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I don't include Tesla here because even though you can sometimes buy a Model 3 for $45K, you often have to wait weeks or months.
The $40k Tesla Model 3 SR+ has a 3-5 week delivery time, according to Tesla's web site.

On the other hand, it seems that GM may have gotten too aggressive on the Bolt rebates/discounts that brought the price down to $27-33k. Someone considering the Bolt found that all local dealers are sold out (and some seem to be tardy at marking cars as sold in the online inventory search), so that it may be several weeks before they get more.
 

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I didn't say they won't replace ICE. I said they will not be the same.
Cheaper will happen, just as far on a full charge will happen, but, yeah, maybe another few minutes to recharge versus ICE.

Anyone betting against EVs is on the losing end of that bet.
 
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