If the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV wasn't already a big deal with its promise of 200-plus miles of driving range at a starting price of $30,000 (after tax incentives), the EPA's official range number will certainly garner plenty of attention. The government agency has rated the Bolt EV to go 238 miles on a single charge, showing that GM's earlier estimates were conservative-perhaps on purpose. The Bolt is also rated at 128 MPGe city, 110 MPGe highway, and 119 MPGe combined.
That big range number puts the Bolt ahead of every single affordable electric car on the market by a long shot. The current highest rated EV, the 2017 BMW i3 with its new 33-kWh battery pack, goes 114 miles on a charge, still less than half the Bolt's official number. Even if you count Teslas into the equation, the Bolt holds up well; the least expensive version of the Model S, the $67,200 60 (with the 60-kWh battery pack, same size as the Chevy) is rated at 210 miles of range with rear-wheel drive or 218 miles with dual-motor all-wheel drive. To beat the Bolt EV's range in a Tesla, you have to opt for the Model S's 75-kWh battery-pack option (which is really just a software update) to get to 249 miles of range with rear-drive or 259 miles in the 75D. As for the upcoming Model 3, Tesla has only said it will offer 215 miles of range in its base form.
How does the Bolt do it? Well, its huge, 60-kWh battery is a big part of it, obviously. Regenerative braking capability also makes up about 40 miles of the range number, according to chief engineer Josh Tavel. The Bolt EV is tested in its standard Drive mode, which represents the lowest amount of regenerative capability; Low mode, which ratchets up braking capability, recaptures more energy and could make for even better driving range in the real world.
A brief drive of a prototype Bolt around GM's proving grounds in Milford, Michigan, revealed pleasant driving dynamics, strong power and torque from the electric motor, and a spacious interior. Now that we have the EPA's official approval on the car's impressive driving range, the Bolt EV's pricing-set to be revealed sometime before its on-sale date by the end of this year-will be the last piece of what's shaping up to be an intriguing puzzle.