When Karen's beloved Subaru died three years ago, we knew we needed a new car. Since my Audi could handle long distance and snow trips, we decided to go with an electric car. It's primary use would be to take me up the coast to surf so a Tesla was out of the question: there was no way I was going to leave a Tesla on the side of Highway 1.
Aside from the Tesla, the Ford Focus Electric was the best looking Electric Vehicle (EV) and had the best range. Knowing technology would improve dramatically, we decided to do a three year lease. For more on our initial impressions and experiences with driving an electric vehicle, see my post Our #EV (Electric Vehicle) Pros and Cons.
Three years have passed and we've loved our Focus. Yes, there have been times where range anxiety took its toll, but after understanding its limitations, we realized that even with that limited range, we could do 80-90% of our driving in the Focus. We were looking forward to a Focus with better range once our lease expired.
Unfortunately, as of early 2016 Ford had done little to improve the Focus's range. So, knowing our lease was expiring in November, we were excited to hear that the Chevy Bolt, with a 238 mile range, would be available by the end of the year.
I read the reviews and looked at videos of the first test drives by the various car publications and it looked like there were some great enhancements to the EV drive train. Even better, it appeared that the official 238 mile range is a conservative estimate. Several of the test drivers went much further, even with mostly highway driving (note that EVs get better range in the city than on higways).
I looked at Chevy dealers in the immediate Bay Area and it appeared that Capitol Chevrolet had the best reviews and seemed to have the most inventory. I contacted them in the spring, and Kevin Rodriguez told me that the dealers didn't know much about the Bolt but that he would keep me informed. In August, he let me know that they would be able to take orders in November with some limited deliveries in December. He said he could also now put me on a wait list for a Bolt.
In September, he reached out to inform me that they could take orders sometime in October - things were moving more quickly than expected. Then, on Friday, I got the good news: we could place an order on Monday. And sure enough, he and his GM, Scott Jobe, made ordering the newest electric car a smooth, painless process.
Since I haven't seen pricing for the Bolt and its options anywhere on the web, I thought I'd include them in this post.
The base model, the LT, at $37,495, comes with what you'd expect in a modern vehicle. It includes a rear vision camera, a 10.2 inch touch console for car systems, entertainment, and EV information, keyless open and start, climate control, etc. Its phone interface allows you to run music, apps, and Google Maps from your phone on the console.
The Premier model, at $41,780, adds a rear mirror camera, surround vision where images from 4 cameras show the front, sides and rear of the car, roof rails, leather seats and steering wheel, front and rear heated seats and steering wheel, lane change alert, parking assist, rear traffic alert, and more.
Options include a Fast charging port ($750), the infotainment system ($485) with premium quality audio, wireless device charging, 4G LTE hotspot, and additional USB ports, and the driver confidence package. The driver confidence package ($495) includes front collision alert, optional automatic braking, lane assist, and Intellibeam headlights.
GM has officially confirmed our order order and has promised regular updates as our car moves through the build process. Scott told us to expect delivery in January but said he had hopes that we'd see our car before the end of the year - so far GM is beating expectation on their dates. As soon as we get it, I'll post again to give you our first impressions of the new Bolt.
Update - blogs about our new Chevy Bolt:
Chevy Bolt vs Ford Focus EV - First Impressions
We Love our new Chevy Bolt!
Our Bolt EV's First Longer Trip and Fast Charging Surprises