It’s tempting to say that Chevrolet’s Bolt is back, but in many ways, it never left, always offering up a generous amount of EV range and utility at a competitive price. General Motors declared the hatchback dead earlier this year but has recently walked back that statement, declaring that the Bolt will get an improved second generation. Back in 2017, the debut of the Bolt was a huge boon for General Motors, democratizing the battery-electric vehicle space with an affordable hatchback with modest power and the backing of a major U.S. automaker.
Fitted with a single 200-horsepower motor, the Bolt is a front-wheel drive hatchback that can get up to speed from 0 to 60 in a very modest 6.5 seconds and initially delivered an estimated 238 miles of range, upped to 259 miles in 2020 because of a slight change in battery composition. “Modest” is a good way to sum up the car as a whole, as it’s been a sharpish-looking compact hatchback with an average amount of cargo and utility space and performance since its debut. Bolstered by the ample amount of range, the Bolt is exceptional in how normal and approachable it is.
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It was regarded as “the people’s EV,” but the party was over almost as soon as it started. GM appeared to do little to promote or support the car after the initial push, and as demand subsequently faded, Chevy’s big little EV faded into the background. The Bolt received a visual exterior and interior refresh in 2022 and was joined by a larger Bolt EUV, but this refresh included no drivetrain upgrades.
A refresh and the addition of a new model seemed to act as a reminder, at the very least, that the Bolt was still around, and at best hinted at some growth of the Bolt brand. This was proven wrong in April of this year, as GM CEO Mary Barra declared the Bolt would be discontinued, making room in Michigan’s Orion Assembly Plant for Silverado EV production. That seemed to be it for the Bolt until this week when GM announced that the Bolt won’t be discontinued after all and will join GM’s growing EV lineup with an improved second generation.
What improvements will be made? GM hasn’t said much beyond the fact that the next-generation Bolt will be built on an “accelerated timeline” on the company’s Ultium platform, the EV base that currently underpins other GM vehicles like the Hummer EV and Cadillac Lyriq. We can expect, however, that with a new and improved battery platform, the new Bolt will have even more usable range to offer and, hopefully, a touch more power. No word yet on if the Bolt EUV, which was also discontinued, will be part of the next generation.
At the moment, a 2023 Bolt starts at $26,500 before any federal tax credits. This highly competitive price is the Chevy EV’s biggest selling point next to its range, and if the second generation plans to be half as successful as the first, it can’t afford to go much higher. We’ll have to wait for this “accelerated timeline” to get underway for more details, but we’ve got Bolt on the brain now more than we have in a long time.
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