New GM Car: design fail?

New GM Car: design fail?

Here's some info on how the design of the new Chevy Bolt may not be as good as it should be:

Efontana | 9 august 2016

I have been trying to figure this car out for a while. I think it is a power train mule that puts GM in a position to electrify their fleet. Front wheel drive/regeneration has benefits, if fleet conversion is what you are trying to do.

Drop it in a BMW X1 and folks would buy it.

The drag coefficient on the BMW is a little lower, as is the base price, but the power train would fit.

Nexxus | 9 august 2016

That's what you get when you don't design the car from the ground up, geared towards being a BEV to begin with and not an ICE conversion from gas to batteries. A BOLT, a compliance car, a non-starter; well, maybe not a non-starter. Someone is bound to buy a few here or there, but GM will be lucky to sell the 30K/year they're proposing.

PhillyGal | 9 august 2016

I was just thinking about this again on my way to work this morning. I saw a new Corvette. It's gorgeous. Stunning. Clearly someone at GM knows how to make a nice looking car. The Bolt was intentionally hit by the ugly stick to make it fail.

jordanrichard | 9 august 2016

PG +1. GM's whole Bolt program IMHO is a PR scheme. It is all for appearances. To make them look like they are a leading edge company. The ugliness of the Bolt as well as any BEV apart for Teslas, is intentional so that the companies can say they tried to sell a BEV but there was no demand. Once the M≡ hits the streets and those 400,000 reservations become real, GM and the others won't be able to use that excuse.

I have been telling people for 2 plus years now that where a car company or rather their dealers want their EVs positioned is perfectly demonstrated by Nissan. They have been making the Leaf since, what, 2009? They clearly know how to make a BEV. There is clearly a demand for larger more expensive BEVs (MS and MX), so why hasn't Nissan scaled the Leaf up to an Altima or Maxima size car......? In my opinion, it is because the dealers don't want a car that makes their bread and butter cars (Altima) obsolete. Too much money to be lost on the lack of required parts and service.

Red Sage ca us | 9 august 2016

PhillyGal: Yes. The Chevrolet Corvette is absolutely stunning. Like a Matchbox car come to life. And I have always loved them, even before I knew what they were called. True beauty to my eye. But now, I look at them and can't help but wonder... Why isn't this an electric car? I know the answers, of course. But I find those naught more than excuses. Because I am certain that the best possible Corvette would have a 100% electric drivetrain. And no one at General Motors is willing to allow it to be conceived, let alone built. That's a real shame.

If it were up to me...? There would be a fully electric car called the Chevette. It would be a two-seat rear wheel drive fully electric car with a trunk and frunk offered for about $35,000 and would have a 250 mile range, while being Supercharger compatible. 30,000 units per year would be just fine for such a vehicle, I think. Effectively, it would be an homage to the Pontiac Fiero of old, and I'd much rather drive one of those than a Chevrolet BOLT.

PaceyWhitter | 9 august 2016

I don't think the Bolt is a compliance car or some scheme. I think GM understands it's limitations.

Aerodynamics are very important for highway driving. That is where you see the range gains. But you cannot use the Bolt for long distance highway driving. GM would need a supercharger network for highway driving to be feasible.

Instead, GM focused on increased usable space, useful for a city car.

Too bad they couldn't also make it attractive.

jordanrichard | 9 august 2016

The Bolt is limited because they are making it that way. Aerodynamics kick in at much lower speeds than highway. Ever notice the raindrops on your hood start to move once you hit a mere 40-45 mph. I may be wrong,but I take that as meaning it is at that speed the pressure of the air is starting its resistance and obviously the water drops get pushed.

Also it is a compliance vehicle. Why else is the Bolt only going to be initially available in CA? I mean if all they care about is "moving metal", then why not have it available in all states, right from the get-go?

Red Sage ca us | 9 august 2016

PaceyWhitter: I think that compliance cars only need to be something like 1% of an automobile manufacturer's fleet as made available in CARB States. Chevrolet sells on the order of 2,000,000 vehicles in the US each year. 30,000 units of the BOLT would amount to 1.5% of their total offerings. That makes it a compliance car.

Keep in mind that around twelve years or so ago, Chevrolet successfully lobbied to have the Pontiac Firebird (a car that had been a staple of the brand since the late 1960s) canceled because they claimed its 35,000 in annual sales were 'stealing' from potential Camaro sales.

So, when General Motors allows a new car to join the Chevrolet VOLT in the same stable, when neither of them is expected to cross 30,000 units per year, that strikes a chord of suspicion with me. Even the Chevrolet Corvette has sold over 30,000 units each of the last two years. The VOLT has never reached that mark in six years, in fact it has never even crossed 25,000 units, and is unlikely to do so this year with 12,214 units sold through July 2016. Heck, even the Nissan LEAF managed to sell over 30,000 units at least once in its first six years on the US market.

PhillyGal | 9 august 2016

@Red - Damn right the corvette, with its beautiful looks, would make an amazing EV.

jordanrichard | 9 august 2016

I don't have the link, but there is a company out there that set a speed record of something like 207 MPH in an EV Corvette. It was a donated Z06 that they converted. The company plans on selling their own designed sports car and like Tesla did with the Roadster, this EV Z06 was a proof of concept.

JeffreyR | 9 august 2016

Randy Carlson's take on why Big Auto will not make a cool EV anytime soon (click to read Brian H's cross-post):

The short version (pulled from article):

the objective is to sell just the [compliance] BEVs they must
target a compliance BEV toward the carmaker's low-end product, but at a price premium
restrict cannibalizing [by designing] a compliance BEV with restricted functionality. Limited range and recharging capability that restrict compliance BEVs to "city car" applications

bigd | 9 august 2016

Redsage and PhillyGal You may like this
foxsports dot com/motor/story/video-corvette-electric-vehicle-land-speed-record-080716

quinney | 9 august 2016

@PhillyGal: it's so ugly, it has to sneak up on the plug to get a charge.

jordanrichard | 10 august 2016

One correction to that graphic about the Bolt. Those "200 miles" are NOT estimated EPA numbers. That is based on GM's own testing. I just checked the Bolt site to confirm it.

This car is due to be available in CA at least within the next 4 months and GM still can't say what the EPA range is...........? The M≡ won't be out for another year and Tesla flat out said it will have a EPA range of at least 215.

PhillyGal | 10 august 2016

@quinney - Ha!

@bigd - Thanks for sharing.

JeffreyR | 10 august 2016

@jordanrichard very old graphic. Look at when Brian H. posted about it. But your point about EPA range is pretty telling. GM is pinning things to 200 miles and probably a certain battery configuration. Elon is probably willing to change the battery to make sure M≡ gets at least 215 miles of range from the 5-cycle EPA test. Or maybe it's that Tesla knows their current results w/o aerodynamic fine tuning and inverter improvements. So they can be confident of improved range.

It may be GM's policy to not publish EPA results until the car is actually for sale. Or maybe they have not received the results yet. Not sure how that works. But, they are outsourcing the drive train, so tire/chassis modifications and requests for updates to their vendor (LG?) are their only options. It will be interesting to see if the 200 for the Bolt turns into "200 miles of highway range" instead. Still good of course, but no Superchargers—

jordanrichard | 10 august 2016

The graphic may be old, but that 200 was never an EPA estimate. This 200 is quoted all the time whenever the Bolt is brought up, yet it is an unsubstantiated number, apart from GM's own numbers which are obviously biased. Yes, I know that the M≡ has yet to even be made, but Elon and crew made it clear that the M≡ will get an EPA 215 miles. So didn't/doesn't GM state what EPA range they expect from the Bolt?

PaceyWhitter | 10 august 2016

The Bolt should be able to get 200 miles from a 60 KWh battery. The S 60 gets 210. It is heavier than the Bolt but more aerodynamic. The Bolt should be able to get 200 unless they are holding back even more of the pack than Tesla does for safety and longevity.

bernard.holbrook | 10 august 2016

@JeffreyR- The horsepower of the Bolt is 200 hp, not 140. Can you update your post to make it correct?

Red Sage ca us | 10 august 2016

PaceyWhitter: The BYD E6 supposedly has an 80 kWh battery pack, but it's EPA rating is under 190 miles range. There is every possibility that the Chevrolet BOLT won't make it to 200 miles range even with a 60 kWh battery pack. If it were a Tesla Motors supplied battery pack and drivetrain, instead of LG, I'd expect 225-to-250 miles of range for the BOLT.

JeffreyR: Yes, I remember those images. Honestly? I sincerely doubt the horsepower ratings that Randy Carlson notes for Tesla Model ☰ will be anywhere near that low. I expect that the base version of the car will sport at least 300 HP in rear wheel drive configuration. I believe that the dual motor all wheel drive versions will have well over 300 HP. I am certain that the Performance iteration of the Model ☰ could easily exceed 500 HP.

PaceyWhitter | 10 august 2016

The byd e6 (just learned about this car because of your post, so thanks) doesn't have an EPA rated range because it isn't offered in the US. I do not know what the basis of this range is. It is also 1000 pounds heavier than the Bolt. It weighs as much as an MS.

Red Sage ca us | 10 august 2016

The BYD E6 is offered in the United States of America, but not for purchase by individuals, solely for distribution through fleet sales. You can check their website:

Or you can stop by the EPA's website for details:

brando | 11 august 2016

GM and Nissan production is battery limited - THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM

Most auto companies have no electronic engineers, all Engine Management System or Engine Management Units are from 3rd parties, right? Bosch?
I don't think auto companies even make fuel injectors, do they?

Every thing out sourced, except ICE engine and styling department.
Listen to Marc Tarpenning of Tesla, I think he mentions auto out sourcing

GM has managed to lose market share every year for about 40 years now.
Can't do that by chance alone. A coin toss would make better decisions.
Focus on product or focus on profit.
Focus on end user or focus on cash paying customer (hint; the dealer who pays GM)
Focus on quality or focus on re-use of parts bin.
Focus on reputation or focus on stock price.
You get the idea.

Red Sage ca us | 11 august 2016

brando: Yes. Marc Tarpenning is pretty cool. But at this point, traditional automobile manufacturers also outsource their styling. Likely the most famous studio is Pininfarina, but they are by no means the only one. If I remember correctly, Franz Von Holzhausen may have run his own design studio for a short time before joining Mazda, then coming to Tesla Motors. Originally, cars were so expensive that you purchased the chassis separately from the body, which was a bespoke design unique to your specifications.



PaceyWhitter | 11 august 2016

My bad, Red sage. I still think the Bolt will get over 200 miles EPA. I mean, look at the Spark ev. That doesn't mean it is a car I would be interested in.

jordanrichard | 11 august 2016

Car companies, besides Tesla, outsource just about every little thing and they are essentially just kit builders. Suppliers build and ship whole sub-assemblies like the rear suspension, to the factory. Hell I just learned that even the leather used in RRs comes from Germany. The only thing "RR" actually does in this "Made in England" car is make the wood trim and upholster the interior. Everything else is done/sourced by BMW in Germany and it's suppliers.

Red Sage ca us | 11 august 2016

jordanrichard: Yes. I think we all pretty much expect that level of outsourcing from companies that manufacture maybe 3,500 cars per year for worldwide distribution. There's no way to do it all when you are that small. The revelation is in learning that even the big boys, who manufacture millions of vehicles per year, outsource so much of the components for the final product. A company that arises 'out of nowhere' to specialize in fully electric cars can co-opt that system of Suppliers to build their own cars by outsourcing too.

This is precisely why they are so afraid of electric vehicles: The sole identity that remains for many major automobile manufacturers is the focus of their engine design teams, which run the companies. Those guys want to keep their jobs and not change professions. They have worked hard to establish their position within those companies. They don't want to also outsource electric drivetrains to third parties, because once it took off, they would have nothing to do. It would turn the company into nothing but an extremely lean administrative force of executives, with no engineers in charge, and naught but robots and assembly workers on the floor of the plant.

brando | 13 august 2016

GM making another bad decision? How could that be? Bad aerodynamics?


JeffreyR | 13 august 2016

@bernard.holbrook look again at my post. This is Randy Carlson's guesswork from a long while back. Still worth a read even if some guesses were off.

Haggy | 19 august 2016

The article compares it to a Model 3 but says it looks like a Honda Fit for $10,000 more. They are partly right. What they get wrong is that they should be comparing it to the Fit instead of the 3 for the same reason the Fit doesn't compare itself to the 3. It's a different car. Second, the Fit isn't $10,000 less. The 2014 Fit EV retailed for $36,625. The Bolt is expected to be $37,500. I'm pretty sure that comes out to $875, so they were off by more than a factor of 10. It's also three model years newer. I don't have the inflation statistics leading up to 2017, but had it been a leap from 2013 to 2016, adjusted for inflation, the Bolt would come out cheaper by about $334.

sp_tesla | 19 august 2016

Haggy | August 19, 2016

Say what?

carlk | 20 august 2016

This again demonstrates Tesla's innovative and out of the box (pun coming) way of doing things. All compact cars have the same ugly boxy design because that's the only way to get acceptable interior room for a small car. With the same software anyone can design a sleek aerodynamic body but no one could afford to do it that way unless if you're designng a highly space inefficient sports car. Even the outgoing Porsche Panamera had to have that ugly back because its ex-CEO insisted six footers like him should be able to sit in the back. Model 3 solved that by using glass roof to give you back that headroom while having the curved roof line. It's not just a gimmick like some would think. It's those smart details that really set Tesla above the rest.

Ross1 | 20 august 2016

@ Red:
naught> nought

Haggy | 20 august 2016

Say what?

Simply put, the Bolt should be compared to other small crossover vehicles, not to the Model 3. Ideally it should be compared to a small crossover EV with similar looks, such as the Fit EV, which isn't cheaper, as the article suggests, but about the same price. GM will be producing something that has a range of 200 miles instead of 82 that Honda offered It will be three model years newer, and cost relatively less when you adjust for inflation. Anybody who would want a Honda Fit EV, if they still made them, would likely be better off with a Bolt. In comparison, the Bolt is a bargain.

purepwnage5000 | 20 august 2016

The GM Bolt is a "me-too" response to Tesla, it was hastily thrown together and has no chance against the Model 3.

carlk | 20 august 2016


They are comparing Model 3 to BMW gasoline 3 series and Bolt to gasoline Fit, not Fit EV which no one is buying. The formal is a good deal. The later is not.

brando | 21 august 2016

Bolt can't beat Honda, as GM only making 30,000/yr. right?

Cadillac AST (previous CTS) was to take on BMW 3 series

On paper the AST should be out selling the BMW, right?

Dac | 21 august 2016

Went to the Chevy dealership this last Friday (getting my volt serviced) and when I asked about their Bolt the sales man turned and asked who seemed to be the manager, who replied with "... It's like our Spark EV, you have to be a California resident.." And "It's only going to be sold in California". Unless they are misinformed or lying this is clearly a compliance car.

Koz | 22 august 2016


Misinformed. GM is on record that the Bolt will be available nationwide, eventually.

topher | 22 august 2016


Thus negating one of the two advantages the Bolt has over the Model 3. If they wait until the Model Y is available, they will have negated both of them.

Thank you kindly.

jordanrichard | 22 august 2016

"GM is on record that the Bolt will be available nationwide, eventually". Why doesn't GM know when their EV for the masses will actually be available to the masses?

SamO | 22 august 2016

When is GM's latest Sonic going to be available nationwide?

jordanrichard | 22 august 2016

They make a Sonic EV?

Haggy | 22 august 2016

Nobody is buying the Fit EV because they are no longer being made. That being said, I see the EV version more than the other (in all honesty I don't recall seeing a non-EV Fit) and I doubt that Honda made the car widely available outside of California. I can't speak for Honda, but companies sell where the market takes them.

Comparing the Bolt to the Fit EV is the only fair comparison. It's the only vehicle that has a similar look and price, and similar functionality. The fact that it might not have sold well is irrelevant unless the Bolt sells extremely well. If sales volumes are similar, then it's an apt comparison.

People who bought the Fit EV had a choice and could have bought a Fit ICE. People who buy the Bolt will also have a choice and can buy a Fit ICE. Based on that, they may be more likely to buy the Bolt than they would have been to buy the Fit ICE because the Bolt has a much better range. But if spending the extra money is the factor the article claims it will be, then sales volumes should be about the same as they were for the Fit EV, making it a perfect comparison.

martinmitchell | 23 august 2016

IIRC, the Fit EV was lease only.

Red Sage ca us | 25 august 2016

Ross: Ain't nuttin' butta thang! A regional thing, like favor over favour, or humor instead of humour, or color more than colour. Nought shows as a misspelled word in American Standard Idiomatic English, while naught is correct here. I have no doubt that nought is correct elsewhere. Such differences occur when separated by a common language and oceans.

Red Sage ca us | 25 august 2016

Haggy: I tend to agree with your position on this. From the very start I have felt the Chevrolet BOLT was originally designed to be a direct competitor to the Honda FIT ICE, but at some point it was decided to make it a greatly improved Honda FIT EV instead. They dropped the BOLT ICE version, for now at least, to see if they can make a splash as an EV ahead of the Tesla Model ☰ release. I still believe that GM intends to someday cram an ICE under the hood of the BOLT, thus their changing its name to 'BOLT EV' this year, a change from its designation in early 2015. Thus, if the BOLT becomes more popular, they may well make a 'BOLT Hybrid' or 'BOLT EREV' designation at a later date.

Part 1

Red Sage ca us | 25 august 2016

Part 2

Red Sage ca us | 25 august 2016

GM sells on the order of 3,000,000 vehicles in the US per year. So a planned 30,000 of the BOLT comes to precisely 1% of that amount. 30,000 units also puts that car at the exact level that GM typically cancels an ICE car. That tells me the BOLT is designed to be a sort of 'national' compliance car, even if it sells at ten times the rate of the SPARK EV it will replace. Keep in mind that GM's CAFE rating was next to last at the end of 2014, just above Chrysler/RAM/Dodge (FCA). This is a move to increase their Corporate Average Fuel Economy by leaps and bounds, while simultaneously allowing them to build and sell a lot more gas guzzling pickup trucks.

Part 3

Red Sage ca us | 25 august 2016

I have no idea why the text of my second paragraph above was objectionable and thereby rejected by our palindrome defender. I was just saying that the BOLT looks more like the FIT and its predecessor than a CR-V.