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First Drive: 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Getting charged up over battery power.

by on Dec.12, 2016

The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt can manage 238 miles from its 60 kWh battery pack, says the EPA.

It’s no surprise that the first generation of battery-electric vehicles barely registered on the U.S. sales charts. They were small, costly and, with the exception of a few luxury-priced Teslas, not very much fun to drive. Add limited range and only the most green-minded buyers were willing to plug in.

But the equation is about to change and, if a handful of new models deliver what they’re promising, we could begin to see electric propulsion move into the mainstream. First out of the box is the new Chevrolet Bolt EV. With a range of 238 miles and a price tag dipping below $30,000 – once you factor in the $7,500 federal tax credit – there’s a lot to like about the Chevy hatchback.

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We’ve now had three stints behind the wheel of the Bolt EV, including our first drive of a pre-production prototype last January. While it may not have the cache of the Tesla Model 3 – which won’t make it to market until the second half of 2017 at the earliest – the new Chevy battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, really delivers on all its promises. It’s surprisingly quick, roomy and able to deliver nearly as much range as comparably sized gas vehicles, such as the Chevrolet Sonic.

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Getting it Right: Inside the Chevy Bolt EV Plant

by on Dec.09, 2016

A new Chevrolet Bolt rolls down the assembly line at GM's Orion Township Assembly Plant.

With the plant running at only about a third of its capacity, General Motors has dimmed the lights at much of its Orion Township Assembly Plant, save for one final station near the end of the production line. There, in a booth lit as brightly as a mid-summer’s day, a couple of hourly workers are carefully inspecting a Chevrolet Bolt hatchback.

They’re determined to make sure all the sheet metal and chrome fit together as planned, and that there are no nicks or scratches to the paint. GM can’t afford any mistakes. The Chevy Bolt EV could prove to be one of the most important products the Detroit-based automaker has launched in decades.

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The first long-range, affordably priced battery-electric vehicle isn’t likely to generate six-figure sales. Nonetheless, it will not only demonstrate whether there’s a mainstream market for EVs but also show whether GM can appeal to the sort of buyers who have largely flocked to either imports or new start-ups like Tesla.

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Chevrolet Bolt Lauded as Green Car of the Year

Battery car claims another endorsement.

by on Nov.17, 2016

Chevrolet Bolt marketing manager Steve Majeros and Green Car Publisher Ron Cogan show off the battery-car's latest award.

The Chevrolt Bolt, the world’s first long-range, mainstream-priced battery-electric vehicle, was given another in a growing list of endorsements, being named Green Car of the Year during a ceremony at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

Organizers of the award called the Bolt a “game-changer,” suggesting that its launch will transform the public’s perception of green powertrain technology from a quirky niche to something that can appeal to everyday drivers.

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“This takes battery power into the mainstream,” said Ron Cogan, publisher of Green Car Journal and the organizer of the annual Green Car of the Year award. “This is the transition year. Green technology is no longer for early adopters.”

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Chevrolet Bolt Lauded as Motor Trend Car of the Year

Ford Super Duty, Mercedes GLC take Truck, SUV honors.

by on Nov.15, 2016

Pam Fletcher, GM's electric vehicle chief, and North American President Alan Batey hold the Motor Trend Car of the Year trophy.

It hasn’t even reached showrooms yet, but the Chevrolet Bolt has landed a big victory, the new battery-electric vehicle being named the Motor Trend Car of the Year.

The widely followed award could give General Motors’ first mainstream, long-range BEV a leg up on competitors – including Tesla – at a time when plug-based vehicles are only beginning to show signs of momentum in a market largely motivated by cheap gasoline.

What a Winner!

Separately, the enthusiast publication also named the new Mercedes-Benz GLC its SUV of the Year, while the newly redesigned Ford Super Duty picked up a trophy as Motor Trend’s Truck of the Year during a ceremony marking the start of the annual Los Angeles Motor Show.

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Green Car Award Nominees Include Familiar Nameplates

Five finalists cross vehicle segments.

by on Nov.09, 2016

The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica could be named the greenest vehicle in America next week.

The list of five finalists for Green Car Journal’s 2017 respected Green Car of the Year award includes the BMW 330e, Chevrolet Bolt, Chrysler Pacifica, Kia Optima and the Toyota Prius Prime.

The winner will be announced next week at the Los Angeles International Auto Show and the nominees reflect the industry’s ongoing shift towards hybrid vehicles and the still tentative embrace of EVs and the ongoing shift in battery technology.

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“This year’s Green Car of the Year finalists clearly represent the momentum that electrification is experiencing in the auto industry,” said Ron Cogan, Editor and Publisher of Green Car Journal and GreenCarJournal.com. (more…)

Chevrolet Gets a Jump as Bolt Production Begins

Sales set to begin before year-end.

by on Nov.07, 2016

A prototype Chevrolet Bolt rolls down the line at the GM plant in Orion Township, Michigan.

The line is moving at a snail’s pace, but production of the Chevrolet Bolt is finally ramping up at the General Motors assembly plant in the Detroit suburb of Orion Township, with the first of the new, long-range battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, set to go on sale before the end of the year.

Parent General Motors is hoping that it can steal a march on a variety of competitors, notably Tesla Motors, who hope to get their own long-range electric vehicles into showrooms over the next several years. With regulators in the U.S., Europe, Japan and China pushing the industry to expand sales of zero-emissions vehicles, the Bolt could provide the first real test of a vehicle designed to overcome so-called range anxiety.

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But whether motorists will take to the $37,495 Chevy Bolt – or any of the other, more mainstream BEVs to follow is far from certain. Fully electric models have accounted for just 0.4% of the U.S. market so far this year. Adding in plug-ins and conventional hybrids, battery-based vehicles still only make up a miniscule 2.5%.

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Long-Skeptical Toyota Reversing Course on EVs

Pressure from China and the U.S.; hydrogen infrastructure “isn’t there.”

by on Nov.07, 2016

Toyota worked with Tesla to develop the RAV4 EV it sold from 2012 to 2014.

Long focused on hydrogen fuel-cell technology, Toyota Motor Co. is reversing course and will now make a push into long-range battery-electric vehicles, according to several sources.

The move would add the Japanese giant to the list of manufacturers looking to market vehicles that get more than 200 miles per charge. A senior source within the company told TheDetroitBureau.com that Toyota will continue to work on hydrogen power, but he acknowledged the necessary “infrastructure isn’t there,” leaving the company no alternative if it hoped to meet stringent new emissions and mileage regulations.

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“China has been pressure Toyota,” the source said, noting that the Asian nation has been aggressively promoting electrification as a way to address its endemic smog problems. U.S. regulators and clean advocates are also calling on Toyota to deliver battery cars, he said, adding, “That’s the big change for us.”

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Tesla Warns of Slow Model 3 Deliveries.

Bad news for Tesla could be good news for Chevrolet’s new Bolt.

by on Oct.19, 2016

Tesla still hopes to have the first Model 3 sedans in production during the 2nd half of 2017.

Looking to buy one of Tesla’s new Model 3 battery-cars? You can look for a long wait.

Those who put in an early reservation for the carmaker’s first mainstream model might yet get a Model 3 delivered before the end of next year, Tesla now says more recent orders won’t be fulfilled until 2018. And some analysts questions whether the company will even meet that goal, considering its history of missing targets with new products.

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That could be good news for Chevrolet, however. The Detroit maker expects to start delivering the first of its own affordable, long-range electric vehicles before year-end, and battery supplier LG Chem said this week that it believes there will be demand for as many as 30,000 Chevy Bolt EVs in 2017.

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Fisker Launching All-New Battery-Car Company

Breakthrough battery promised; range could top 400 miles.

by on Oct.04, 2016

Henrik Fisker shown in Geneva before his earlier company, Fisker Automotive, collapsed.

If at first you don’t succeed…

If you’re Henrik Fisker, it seems, the next step is to start yet another car company. Three years after the collapse and bankruptcy of his original effort, Fisker Automotive, the Danish designer is back in business. The new Fisker, Inc. plans to launch a new line of long-range electric vehicles that will rival the likes of upstart Tesla Motors, as well as the more mainstream manufacturers now pushing into the battery-car business.

While specific details are limited, Fisker said the company is targeting a minimum range of 400 miles per charges, something that would allow a driver to go even further without interruption than with all but a handful of gasoline or diesel-powered vehicles.

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“This is really the revival of the original Fisker, though it will be a completely new company,” the 53-year-old automotive veteran told TheDetroitBureau.com in an exclusive interview.

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Mysterious Faraday Future Takes a Step Closer to Reality

Chinese-owned battery-carmaker signs up Korean battery supplier.

by on Oct.04, 2016

The Faraday Future FF Zero1 concept made its debut at CES Las Vegas last January.

Faraday Future, the mysterious, Chinese-owned automotive start-up, has taken a critical step closer to getting something on the road.

Based in the old Nissan headquarters in suburban Los Angeles, Faraday has signed up the Korean-owned LG Chem to provide the lithium-ion batteries that will power its planned line-up of electric vehicles. LG Chem is the same battery supplier used for the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid and Chevy Bolt battery-electric vehicle.

Electrifying!

“LG Chem worked closely with Faraday Future to develop a tailored cell chemistry to optimize the range and safety of our mass production battery hardware,” said Tom Wessner, Faraday Future’s vice president of global supply chain.

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