General Motors’ entry into the zero emissions vehicle landscape started more than 20 years ago with its EV1 project. The effort was, by most accounts, successful. But the vehicles were all leased, and when the leases ran out, they were all returned to Chevrolet and unceremoniously destroyed.
More recently, though, Chevrolet has gotten more positive publicity with its latest low emission vehicles – the Volt, the Spark electric, and now, the zero emissions Bolt. 2017 was the first consumer model year for the Bolt, and it has attracted attention in dealerships and at the Chicago Auto Show, where Lake Effect automotive contributor Dan Harmon caught up with Todd Bruder, the lead development engineer for Chevy’s Bolt project.
Bruder notes the development of the Bolt focused on three key areas: usability (interior space and efficiency of space), a price range below $30,000, and the mileage range of an electric charge.
"We had a goal of a minimum of 200 miles when we started this," he explains. "That was the range we knew would start to get people interested and move from a non-EV vehicle into an EV vehicle."
While the technology has evolved since the EV1 days, Bruder says the company’s current efforts build on that earlier work. "Having the people around that have gone through some of the earlier phases of electrification has been helpful."
Apart from the longest charge range, Chevy's goal for the Bolt was to make it drive and feel as comfortable as possible to someone who is new to the electric vehicle space, but also include features that would excite an EV enthusiast.
Bruder believes they accomplished that goal. "It's the greatest car I've ever worked on. It's the most exciting car I've ever worked on and it's the most fun to drive."