2017 Chevy Bolt
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2017 Chevy Bolt in motion
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2017 Chevy Bolt front fascia
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2017 Chevy Bolt headlights
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2017 Chevy Bolt taillights
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2017 Chevy Bolt charging port
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2017 Chevy Bolt interior
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2017 Chevy Bolt interior center console
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2017 Chevy Bolt rear seats
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2017 Chevy Bolt, profile in shadow
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GM is unsurprisingly proud of the fact that its new Chevy Bolt EV gets 238 miles of all-electric range. But the company is preparing its owners to accept a Bolt EV that can only go 143 miles when the eight-year warranty period is up. At least, that's what the Bolt EV's owners manual is saying.

Before we continue, let's be clear that battery capacity loss is not unique to the Bolt. The Nissan Leaf, especially units that were used in warm climates, have big problems when it was first launched, and Nissan came up with a number of solutions (better replacement packs, and replacement pack lease options) and the controversy died down. Tesla Model S drivers, too, have had to deal with capacity loss.

So, with that in mind, let's turn back to the Bolt EV. On page 322 of the car's manual (PDF available here) it says:

Like all batteries, the amount of energy that the high voltage "propulsion" battery can store will decrease with time and miles driven. Depending on use, the battery may degrade as little as 10% to as much as 40% of capacity over the warranty period. If there are questions pertaining to battery capacity, a dealer service technician could determine if the vehicle is within parameters."

While a 10-percent range decrease won't be much to worry about, forty percent of 238 miles is 95.2, which would leave just 143 miles in a 2017 Bolt in 2025. Any eight-year-old car will have problems compared to a new model, but there are two big questions here. First, since the Bolt EV is the one that GM wants to promote to a much wider audience than the typical EV buyer – we have to wonder if this sort of range decrease will be acceptable to the masses. Second, is the phrasing "as much as 40%" something that the engineers predict will happen or is that just the lawyers covering the company's collective behind?

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