Chevy Bolt EV: Price cuts boost appeal
Chevy has dramatically cut the price of its compact Bolt EV for the second year in a row, making the upcoming 2023 base LT1 model the lowest-priced all-electric vehicle in the country at $26,959. That is $5,900 less than the same 2022 model and $10,900 less than the 2021 version, which is essentially the same car.
And Chevy has also cut the price for its new, larger Bolt EUV by $6,300. First introduced in 2022, it is mechanically the same as the Bolt EV but longer and wider, with more interior space and cargo capacity.
These have to be the biggest factory financial incentives I have ever heard of. And they make the Bolt EV once again the most compelling small EV on the market.
When it was first introduced in 2017, the Bolt beat the Tesla Model 3 out the door to become the first affordable EV with a reassuring range — 234 miles on a full charge of electricity. That was more than enough for day-to-day driving and occasional longer trips without having to recharge every night. More breakthrough small EVs with even better range have been introduced since then — especially recent ones from Hyundai and Kia — but the 2023 Chevy Bolt EV will substantially undercut their prices, while also offering 258 miles of range, fast charging capabilities, a redesigned bolder exterior, and an upgraded interior that solves the "cheap Chevy dash" problem.
The price drop also overcomes two setbacks the Bolt EV has experienced — highly publicized recalls because of defective batteries (that have now been fixed) and the loss of the $7,500 federal tax credit because so many of them have been sold. That is also true for all Tesla models and the Nissan Leaf, whose base version is now the second least expensive EV in the country, although it only offers up to 147 miles of range. All still qualify for an Oregon rebate of up to $5,000, however.
I have to say the price cuts made a big impression on me. After recently testing a Hyundai IONIC5 and Kia EV6, I had concluded they would pretty much dominate the affordable EV market for the foreseeable future with their striking styling, advanced interiors, powerful motors, and all-wheel-drive availability. But they will be much more expensive than the upcoming Bolt EV, even with their federal tax credit still in place for now — reminding me that one of the major reasons to buy an EV is to save money on gas and maintenance.
If saving money is important to you, why buy a more expensive EV, especially since the Bolt EV does so much well. For starters, it is very roomy for such a small vehicle, with ample head and shoulder room for even tall drivers and passengers. It also sits higher than a conventional car, offering an almost SUV-like view of the road.
Beyond that, the Bolt EV is great fun to drive, thanks to the instantly available 266 foot-pounds of torque that provides quick acceleration. It also handles very well because the battery pack under the floor gives it a low center of gravity. I would prefer at least the option of AWD, but the cost of the additional motor would also raise the price, reducing the saving.
My recent test version was the upgraded LT2 version, which will start at $29,795 for 2023 model — still over $10,000 less than the entry level Hyundai IONIQ5 and Kia EV6. Mine was actually a 2022 model, but it was virtually identical to the coming one. It had the additional range, fast charging capabilities, handsomely redesigned front end, and the revised interior that includes a much more mature dash with a better integrated 10.2-inch touchscreen infotainment and control system. The onboard 4G/LTE data system supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and provides the ability to create a wifi hot spot in the car.
In a week of test driving, I found the Bolt EV to be an ideal daily driver. It was entertaining, practical because of its hatchback design, and it did not require daily recharging. And when I finally plugged it into an extension cord at my house (because I don't have Level 2 charger), it got more than enough additional range overnight to keep me driving it for the next few days without having to plug it in again right away.
Polls show the recent surge in gas prices have prompted more people than ever before to consider buying an EV. That's happening as more manufacturers are releasing more models, ranging from affordable ones to expensive high end models from the European luxury manufacturers.
Normally a relatively early model like the Bolt EV which has changed little since it was first introduced would seem sidelined, especially after losing its federal incentives. But Chevy has upended expectations with deep discounts on a redesigned version that reminds us one of the major reasons to go electric is to save money — and that now includes the purchase price.
2022 Chevrolet Bolt EV LT2
Base price: $34,200 (before incentives)
Price as tested: $36,660 (before incentives)
Type: Compact hatchback
Engine: Electric Motor (200 hp, 266 lbs-ft)
Transmission: Direct drive
EPA estimated mileage equivalent: 128/110
Overall length: 164 inches
Curb weight: 3,563 pounds
Final assembly: Lake Orion, Michigan
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