WIRED: A review of GM's Bolt

WIRED: A review of GM's Bolt

A WIRED reviewer drove a pre-production Bolt for about one full charge. Here's his review:

gregcropper | 13 september 2016

Here is a quote from the article I find amusing. "The Bolt is what the industry calls a halo car, a vehicle meant to show that GM can innovate."

This vehicle cannot be referred to as an innovation by GM since they didn't actually manufacture it. The battery, the drivetrain, and all the internal electronics including the "infotainment" system are manufactured by LG. GM will simply assemble all of LG's parts into a vehicle in their factory in Orion, Michigan.

Red Sage ca us | 13 september 2016

gregcropper: There is a phrase meant to deride owners at car shows/auctions: 'Checkbook Restoration'. It is applied to proud owners of restored cars who did exactly NONE of the work on the cars themselves. Instead, they drove or towed junkers to professionals, waited a few months until told it was ready, and went back to cut them a check.

It seems that General Motors has engaged in 'Checkbook Innovation' with the BOLT, eh?

gregcropper | 13 september 2016

I agree and well said. As a reservation holder, I have to look at the upside. If the Bolt is as good as GM is trying to make it out to be, that will put pressure on Tesla to make an even better car. It's truly win-win as far as I'm concerned. I wonder how Ford will fare once they finally have something to show.

Red Sage ca us | 13 september 2016

gregcropper: I would hope that Ford find a way to cram around 40 kWh capacity into their Focus Electric. But instead, I think they'll just expand their Energi series to make hybrid plug-in versions of everything that isn't a Mustang.

jamilworm | 13 september 2016

You guys are silly, do you really think the majority of automobile innovation credit should go to the manufacturer? The design is the really hard part. GM designed the Bolt, and they innovated in the process.

Red Sage ca us | 13 september 2016

jamilworm: I am your Friendly Neighborhood Over-the-Top Optimistic Tesla Motors Certified Apologist Fanboy... But that doesn't make me 'silly' in the slightest. Just understand that my position is meant to balance those who are incredibly pessimistic of Tesla Motors chances. The guys who believe TSLA should never have been offered at a dime over five bucks, and should have slid to $2.50 or so from there and lingered. I am instead entirely pessimistic about the chances of the traditional automobile manufacturers to supposedly 'steal the electric car market -- anytime they want to' from Tesla Motors. Because this is ultimately a case of 'Willingness Limits' at work. GM was not willing to offer a beautiful, sleek, high performance, long range fully electric car that could embarrass the CRUZE and MALIBU. GM is not willing to offer the excellent experience of Fast DC Charging on the BOLT with access to a nationwide or worldwide network of charging stations. GM is not willing to make a commitment of even 1% of their worldwide capacity to any electric vehicle program. GM is not willing to do more than offer a marketing ploy that will drive potential Customers to their 'independent franchised dealerships' where they may ask about the BOLT or VOLT, but end up leaving in a CRUZE or MALIBU instead. There is no 'innovation' to be found in having a creative memory or using off-the-shelf parts.

bj | 14 september 2016

It's interesting (to me) that the Bolt is reported as having efficiency (on the long drive that the journalist did) of 138 Wh/km - almost bang-on my long term average for my Leaf (139 Wh/km). That suggests that GM has built a very efficient EV given the much larger (and presumably heavier) battery the Bolt has compared to the Leaf, and with worse aerodynamics.

I will be intrigued to see what kind of efficiency Model 3 achieves, given it is more aerodynamic and presumably by the time is it produced, the latest and most efficient battery tech and EV drivetrain.

Efontana | 14 september 2016

GM did some really good work on making the motor efficient. Presented at SAE conference in April.

David N | 14 september 2016

Maybe I'm just not intelligent enough, but with all the time GM designers have had to work on the Bolts design, and given the known fact that aerodynamics play a role in range, why would they come out with a design that is not very aerodynamic?
It's not like they don't have the technology to design something with better aerodynamics.
Your thoughts?

JeffreyR | 14 september 2016

@bj that stretch of PCH is very curvy w/ parts where 25 mph feels unsafe. He averaged 40 mph for a reason for that part.

jamilworm | 14 september 2016

@David it is not always obvious what shapes are aerodynamic. The Bolt might be pretty good on that front. I'm not sure if they have actually stated the drag coefficient. But in any case, they may have made a strategic decision that one they achieved a range over 200 miles, then it was more important to offer more cargo space rather than pinch out a few more miles with a sleek design. I mean take a look at these forums and 10% of the posts are about people wanting a hatchback. That might be more of a selling point than 250 mile range vs 238 mile range.

makobill | 14 september 2016

jamilworm - I do believe they have announced the drag coefficient - don't have it at my finger tips, but it wasn't good. That said, I think you nailed the key point. The Volt is a broken, and very nice vehicle - largely due to headroom and a sacrificed hatchback design. The Bolt solves what I think is the largest problem, while also stepping towards a hatchback for the masses in an EV form. How many threads have opened in the Model 3 section around - "Why not a hatchback?" The market is asking....

jordanrichard | 14 september 2016

The drag coefficient for the Bolt is something like .30 or a little higher.

GM didn't build the motor or anything else that makes the Bolt run. All they did is design the body and interior, which has been revealed as being compromised due to this body being used for future ICE cars in GM's line up.

SamO | 14 september 2016

Drag coefficient of 0.32, the same as a 1995 Buick Riviera.


People are going to be in for a horrible surprise when they drive the car at highway speed.

makobill | 14 september 2016

Or a 2005 BMW M3 Coupe or 2008 Ferrari California. It sucks - but you cherry picked your example there sparky...

People need to let the long highway mileage go. This isn't a road tripping car - its a local work commuter and around town run about. It doesn't have supercharging on its side - and aerodynamics aren't its strong suit. I think its been rated based on the purpose given the lack of supercharging. If you want to bash it for its lack of supercharging, have at it - but that's not about the car, that's about GM's strategy. (Which sucks) The car is rather ordinary in drag for what it 'is'....

BMW M3 Coupe
Dodge Avenger
Ferrari California
Chrysler 300C
Fiat Croma
Ford Taurus
Geo Metro (Sedan)
Seat Leon
Honda Accord (Coupe)
Honda Ascot Innova (Sedan)
Honda Civic (Coupe)
Honda Civic (Hatchback DX)
Honda Civic (Sedan EX)
Honda Insight Hybrid [66]
Honda NSX
Hyundai Veloster
Jaguar XJ (X350)
Koenigsegg CCX
McLaren F1
Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16/2.3-16

Nissan 240SX Coupe
Nissan 300ZX
Nissan Altima
Nissan Maxima
Oldsmobile Aurora
Porsche 997 GT2
Peugeot 406
Peugeot 806
Saab Sonett II
Scion xB
Suzuki Swift
Tatra 600
Toyota Celica
Toyota Celica
Toyota Supra (N/A with wing and turbo models)
Toyota Supra (with factory turbo wing)
Toyota Tercel Sedan
Volkswagen Golf Mk3
Volkswagen GTI Mk V

SamO | 14 september 2016


Pick your poison. It doesn't matter if the CD is from a Celica or Ferrari. Tesla is 30% more drag efficient than the Bolt. Which will mean that at high speeds, the Bolt will be a horror show.

I agree with you. The Bolt is a city car. But that's not how GM promoted their first press test drives. They talked about it being great for road trips. I will continue to point out how GM rigged the test to avoid revealing that underlying fact.


JRKingston | 14 september 2016

Hello SamO, for those of us who are not as familiar as you, can you expand what you mean by the Volt will be "a horrible surprise" and that "the Bolt will be a horror show." Does this mean it will be loud? Use significantly more battery power than is expected at lower speeds or what? Thanks.

jordanrichard | 14 september 2016

SamO +1,000.

JRKinston, not to speak for SamO, but the Bolt's range is not going to be anywhere near what they are purporting. Read any of the "glowing" reviews of the car with respect to the range. For a large chunk of the drives that these reviews are based on were at an avg speed of 40 mph and on a very, very prescribed route, by GM. I can get 350 miles of range from my MS is I just tooled around town at 35-45 mph.

Haggy | 14 september 2016

I think the notion of judging GM by how much they did in house is rather silly. When I was a kid, there was a concept of a home team in sports. But teams were allowed to trade players from different regions. Then the free agent rule came along. Players can play in any area whether they grew up there or not. People go to hockey games and root against Canada without realizing that most of their home team is made up of Canadians. These days, a home team is merely a collection of people from any place who are hired by somebody in your region.

Business is no different. We don't have neighborhood auto makers (although the Tesla factory is about 12 miles away from me, but...) and everything comes down to a diverse supply chain. Half the parts in a Tesla, on a cost basis, are from outside the US. That will change drastically once the gigafactory is completed, but for now a lot of what goes into the car comes from elsewhere.

What's important though is that Tesla designs everything and it's made to spec. That's not 100% true, and for some things like tires and wiper blades Tesla will choose something commercially available rather than giving custom specs to a tire company. But Tesla still lets other companies make parts. Tesla might make the majority in raw numbers or by volume or weight, but it's the value of parts that determines percent content.

hsadler | 14 september 2016

Any way we could know that prescribed route so that we can compare?

kenneth.raub | 14 september 2016

I think I'll refer to the Bolt as GM's "EV2". When will they crush the EV2s?

quassinoid | 14 september 2016

Over at, someone finally stated the obvious to us (Tesla folks), but not obvious to general public; that is, the most significant difference between TM3 and Bolt. I hope this gets picked up by the broader media tomorrow.

bj | 14 september 2016

@quassinoid - yes that's a point but I think it depends on whether the Bolt will be someone's primary car or someone's second (or third...) car.

The utility of an EV as a second car is largely how far can you can drive it in one day before returning home to charge (hence charge time is largely irrelevant). I own a Leaf, and find it fantastic for what it is, but I understand its limitations and if I would exceed its range in 1 days' driving, then I use my ICE instead.

Now if the Bolt was my 'second car' instead of the Leaf, then the number of times I would need to use the ICE for range reasons would be reduced. i.e. there would be more day trips I could contemplate in the Bolt than I could contemplate in the Leaf.

Hence a longer range EV that can't match Tesla's charging rate still has utility and hence a market. In fact if it existed and was available at the time I bought my Leaf I may well have bought a Bolt instead.

But this equation changes a lot when an EV is to be your primary car. When I replace my ICE with Model 3, it has to cover all scenarios not just day-trip scenarios, and hence the SC network was a very significant factor in my decision and the Bolt would not cut it.

Marino Model 3 | 15 september 2016

I would really like to see the Model 3 go at least 250 Miles on a single charge, this would really make the model 3 more marketable and more attractive. If you compare the Model 3, with Prius or the Bolt, neither car is limited to range. The looks of the Bolt and Prius are the only thing keeping people from buying them. The Model 3, should at least be able to go 250 Miles. Tesla needs to give us this as we will be paying a pretty price for it.

Haggy | 16 september 2016

I think there's no question that the Model 3 will go at least 250 miles on a charge. The question is how much each battery option would cost. If we are comparing it to the Bolt, you have a budget of $2500 for upgrades on the Model 3 before the costs are the same.

Red Sage ca us | 16 september 2016

At least one person has reported that their friendly neighborhood 'independent franchised dealership' for Chevrolet vehicles intends to 'charge what the market can bear' by adding an additional $5,000 to $10,000 to the base price of the BOLT once it is available. So that means a Model ☰ with 250+ or 300+ miles range just has to cost $45,000 or less to be price competitive on that basis. I have no doubt that Tesla Motors will achieve that goal.

JeffreyR | 17 september 2016

@hsadler asked, "Any way to know the route so we can compare?"

Yes. In review they show the route. I've driven it before. Super, pretty route w/ lots of slow curves. Monterrey south on PCH to Santa Barbara, the back way by Lake Cachuma (Hwy 156?). Some of the stretch is on the 101 (full-speed freeway), but most is slow going.

JeffreyR | 17 september 2016

@brando try this technique when Mollom blocks you instead:

Much easier to deal w/.

JeffreyR | 17 september 2016

Or this way

EaglesPDX | 17 september 2016

Doesn't look like the terrified Teslerati (those who fear any other EV or plug-in as a threat to Tesla even though Tesla states getting other car mfg;s to build plug-ins is part of Tesla's mission statement) read the Wired Article.

On the fear of the Bolt's 238 miler range, the Teslerati claim it is based on a "special route", the Wired article says otherwise.

"The EPA pegs the Bolt’s range at 238 miles, General Motors announced today. I saw even more driving a pre-production Bolt down the California coast from Monterey to Santa Barbara. I put the car in park having added 239.9 miles to the odometer, and the range indicator said the battery had another 23 miles to go."

As far as the bogus complaints about the route "average 40 mph", my ride to work which is 48 miles with 20 miles at 70 mph, averages 42 mph.

This is noted in the article but ignored by the Teslerati.

"Then I spent an hour on Highway 101, zipping along at my typical freeway speed of 70 mph. I had no trouble keeping up with traffic making a 2,000-foot climb through Los Padres National Forest. At no point during the day did I feel I had to back off to save the battery"

As for the design, the Wired crew describe it as "sleek" and this from the tech cognoscenti.

Sounds like GM did a nice job on the Bolt.

SamO | 17 september 2016


How long will it take to drive from DC to Miami? Where will you charge?

Thanks for playing.

Red Sage ca us | 17 september 2016

One of these years I should read Nietzsche, find out what all the fuss is about and stuff.

jordanrichard | 17 september 2016

EaglesPDX, I am one of those mentioning the avg speed of 40 mph. That figure came from one of the reviewers of the Bolt. I nor anyone else just came up with it. It is great that LG, whoops I am sorry I meant GM, got 238 from the battery. Still doesn't address the very simple yet poignant question, then what? If one is traveling up the PCH, are there any Chevy dealers on the PCH?

jamilworm | 17 september 2016

@jordan "then what?"

Then you stop at your hotel, unpack, go to the beach, eat dinner at a nice restaurant, go to sleep. Then the next day you go home after your nice trip.

You are acting like people need to drive 400 miles per day all the time and ignoring the fact that most people never need to. When you get to work do you drive in circles for 300 miles?

bernard.holbrook | 17 september 2016

@EaglePDX - Your post is bang on. Ignore SamO, if you've read around you know what he is.

Every Tesla, Bolt, Leaf, i8, Focus EV sold is one less ICE. We should all be cheering at the competition and progress that it represents.

EaglesPDX | 17 september 2016

@jordanrichard "I am one of those mentioning the avg speed of 40 mph. That figure came from one of the reviewers of the Bolt. I nor anyone else just came up with it."

It's that you DON'T UNDERSTAND IT. As the WIRED article pointed out, as my 100 mile daily commute near 70% on interstates going 65-70 mph demonstrates, the AVERAGE for a long drive even mostly on interstates at high speed is going to be around 40-50 mph because you have to get off the interstate and it reduces the average mph. You clamped on to the 40 mph average and never understood it.

The Bolt did just fine on a LONG TRIP of near 200 miles as DOCUMENTED in the article.

I would expect a Tesla with a 238 mile range to do pretty much exactly as the Bolt did regarding range.

SamO | 17 september 2016


Having driven that stretch of road described in the article, I can tell you that the conditions are ideal. I can get 220Wh/m which is a 20% increase in range of 200. The drive is a net 200 foot downhill from Northern California to Central California with hardly a stop sign or light. Pretty much optimal driving conditions and benefits a car driven slowly for most of the route.


You shouldn't market an automobile as "long distance" when you aren't supporting that goal and the car can't actually accomplish that goal without large compromises.

@jordanrichard & @Redsage,

Just some fun flashbacks:

423 world record for a Tesla Model S85 single charge in 2013

452 world record for a single charge P85D 26mph average 2015

550 world record for a single charge 85D 22mph average 2015

It's all a function of willpower. But if Tesla ever marketed their cars as being able to accomplish that through regular driving, I'd be furious with them.

Those are just a few of the records, When the 100D arrives, I'm sure someone will break 600 miles. It's likely possible in the 90D. Someone could hit 1000 km on a single charge. Take that, diesel.

AND TO BE CLEAR: GM can build a network of fast chargers. Easily. And for little money. But this is an admission of true change for GM.

Until then, they are barely dipping a toe. And they should be honest with their customers that long trips are NOT convenient.

EaglesPDX | 17 september 2016

@SamO "Having driven that stretch of road described in the article, I can tell you that the conditions are ideal. I can get 220Wh/m which is a 20% increase in range of 200. "

Which is exactly what the Bolt got, 20% increase in Bolt and Tesla get same range results on same route. You make a good case for the Bolt vs. the Tesla but totally miss the point that it is the Bolt AND the Tesla AND the Leaf AND the BMW330e AND the Ford Fusion Emergi.

400,000 EV's sold, 129,800,000 million to go before we get to 50% plug in and 50% less oil used and no oil imports and 40% less GHG.

Considering Tesla figured 215 mile range was good for its working man's EV, Bolts range of 238 is an excellent spot.

JeffreyR | 17 september 2016

The route is the route. Nothing to fear or deride about it. Some claim it was carefully selected. I have no idea about that. I do know if I had to test drive a car on that route I'd be super happy. What a great drive! If just sheer joy of driving and amazing scenery are trying to put reviewers in a positive state of mind is carefully chosen, then GM did a great job.

Hannah Eliot did a similar drive for Bloomberg and the Model X. Lots of photo ops and curvy roads.

Don't worry too much about the average speed. Large portions of the drive are on PCH where you would be lucky to average 30 mph. Some of the drive is full freeway too.

I'd say it's a great place to do a test drive or a romantic drive.

SamO | 17 september 2016

Except that you can't seem to admit that GM doesn't have a charging network.

Or that their range at highway speed will be hobbed by a high coefficient of drag, 30% higher than the Model S.

Putting those together will result in suboptimal experience for actual Bolt owners attempting to recreate the potemkin village route put forth by GM.

The ONLY reason an S60 is an acceptable vehicle is the existence of the Supercharging and Destination Charging Networks.

jordanrichard | 18 september 2016

jamilworm, I am going to give you a real world example. I am in CT and our daughter lives in Raleigh, NC. If I were to be driving a Bolt, I would only get as "far" as the middle of NJ, which is 3 hours 40 mins away. I would have to stop for 3 + hours to charge IF I find a Fast DC charger on the NJ turnpike or near it. So I will have been on the road for 6 hours, which should get me to Washington DC, but I am still stuck in NJ.

Red Sage ca us | 18 september 2016

SamO: I've probably driven a similar route, if not the exact same one. Pacific Coast Highway is a nice place to drive. So is Highway 101. Sometimes taking the 'scenic route' is the best thing one can hope to manage. I'd very much like to make my way along Highway 96 in Northern California... The Klamath River is wonderful to behold. All of it is nice to drive while listening to Mozart, or Danny Elfman's BATMAN Score...

brando | 3 oktober 2016

GM Bolt was designed by Koreans, except the Body Style, of course.

You can find many other similar articles searching;
GM bolt LG chem power train

EaglesPDX | 3 oktober 2016

@brando "GM bolt LG chem power train"

As did early Teslas and Tesla still remains a partner with LG on lithium ion batteries. Panasonic is Tesla's partner in the Gigafactory and much of the Tesla electronics. It's OK. Relax

GM partnering with LG is OK also. (n fact a very smart partnership considering LG's work in getting Tesla off the ground. GM is also selling the Bolt overseas as the Opel Ampera-E so world wide support and distribution is important.

What is most important is a world wide industrial network is being built to support EV's and cut GHG.

brando | 3 oktober 2016

Only trying to correct those who thought it was a GM design. GM motor design especially.

I'm not worried.
GM did design and build EV-1 motor.
I think that designer started AC propulsion.
Which was demo car for Tesla initial Venture Capital fund raising.