Behind the Wheel

2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV Review: Perfect commuter car for SoCal, but charging obstacles remain

The 2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV offers over 250 miles of all-electric range.

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

Southern California is the electric car capital of America. Thanks to sky-high gasoline prices, enticing state-level tax incentives, a free pass for EV drivers to travel solo in SoCal's ubiquitous carpool lanes, endless traffic (where EV's are most efficient) and a general acceptance and desire for "greener" lifestyles, you can't swing a charging cable without hitting a Tesla or a Nissan Leaf or the car I'm reviewing this week: the 2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV.

Also, just to be clear, the official name of the car is "Bolt EV." I assume that's to distinguish it from the similar Chevy Volt which is not an EV but a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), which has both a gasoline engine and a full electric mode that can take it more than 50 miles on a charge.

2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV The Bolt EV is a fine hatchback.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

Just know that if you buy a Bolt EV, you'll spend the entirety of your time with the car clarifying to friends and family that you have the Bolt-not-the-Volt-no-Bolt-with-a-B-like-battery.

The Bolt EV is the perfect commuter car for SoCal and it might be the perfect commuter car for everywhere else, too. With enough range to get through any day, plus plentiful room inside (there's way more room than you would expect, especially in the trunk and rear seats) and truly fantastic visibility from the enormous windows and high roofline, the Bolt EV is worth a look for anyone spending some time behind the wheel every day.

So the Bolt is a great electric hatchback, sporting an EPA-estimated range of 259 miles, which is up 21 miles from prior year models. On a dedicated Level 2 charger, it can fill its electric tank in roughly ten hours and on the optional DC fast charger it can add approximately 100 miles of range in 30 minutes. This is where things get tricky, and why I'm going to abandon talk of the Bolt EV itself for the rest of this piece. If, after reading it, you fancy checking out an electric car, the Bolt EV is a terrific option and there are some seriously good deals to be had right now at many Chevy dealers around the country.

2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV The interior of the Bolt EV is spacious.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

EVs are complicated and tricky. To the uninitiated, electric cars are a bit like smoking meat. There's a lot of voodoo involved, everyone has their own opinions about the right way to do it even if they've never done it, and the people who love it really, really love it.

But buying the car is only half of the story. You also need to charge it, preferably with a dedicated 240-volt Level 2 charger. This provides a much higher rate of charge than a standard 120-volt outlet, and is basically required for owning a full-EV.

If you never drive more than 200 miles in a day and you have a garage (and you own or rent a single family house), an EV like the Bolt is a great option. You drive it around all day, draining the battery, then when you get back home you plug it in. Because your car is stationary for a lot more of the time than you're actually using it, this means there's plenty of time for it to charge back up again.

2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV Charing the Bolt EV can be a tricky situation.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

The Level 2 charger can be purchased from a whole boatload of companies including consumer-friendly brands like ChargePoint and JuiceBox.

The concept of charging is the scariest part for potential new EV-buyers, especially if you don't have a (likely very) enthusiastic friend helping you on your EV journey. You need to have a place to install the charger, which means ideally you have a garage and you own your own home. Renting means getting the permission of your landlord and makes things complicated.

Then you need an electrician (unless you're really handy, in which case you don't need me to explain it to you) to run the line to where you want the charger, which might also involve pulling permits or upgrading your electrical box or — you see where I'm going?

2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV The Bolt EV is not unattractive.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

EVs are complicated, but they don't have to be. Buy car. Install charger. Never buy gas again. Though, to be honest, I'd probably only buy an EV as a second-car. I bet GM would be happy to sell you a new, road-trip friendly Chevy Tahoe to go with it, though.

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An all-electric vintage Bentley offers retro looks and modern tech.

Photo courtesy of Lunaz

It's been a busy few months. Lunaz has increased its U.K. electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing footprint by 500 percent and added the world's first electric classic Bentley to its portfolio.

"Restoration, re-engineering and electrification responds to the global requirement for a clean-air future," said David Lorenz, Founder, Lunaz. "The Lunaz proprietary powertrain has been proven by furthering the legacies of the most significant cars in history. The time is now right to establish a significantly expanded presence to answer the global need for much wider conversion applications. Our commitment to the UK as a global centre of technical excellence in EV engineering is signalled with the commissioning of a permanent home for our rapidly growing business."

New home

The new Lunaz production home, designed from the ground up, will be completed this spring. It will feature a state-of-the-art design and a research and development hub. The company will have the ability to finish surfaces, engineer batteries, restore the bodies of vehicles, and crafts key components in hard and soft finishes in-house.

Customers will be able to access a hosting space on the second floor of the building, which has an uninterrupted view of Silverstone Racetrack. Beyond race days, the suite will be used as consultation space with the Lunaz design team.

Lunaz Bentley Continental

Lunaz is now offering electrified versions of vintage Bentley Continentals.

Photo courtesy of Lunaz

Electrified vintage Bentley Continental

Following the offering of an all-electric vintage Rolls-Royce, Lunaz is responding to demand, offering a full production of the world's first electric Bnetleys.

"The Bentley Continental is the definitive British grand touring machine," said Lorenz. "Customers across the globe asked us to create the world's first electric expressions of these iconic cars. The result marries the beauty and presence of these extraordinary cars with a proven answer to the key questions of reliability, usability and sustainability that surrounds classic car ownership. We are proud to further the legacy of the Bentley Continental with the start of full production from our significantly expanded UK manufacturing presence."

The most recently completed car is a 1961 Bentley S3 Continental Flying Spur by H.J Mulliner. It is presented with a two-tone paint job and an interior that is finished in hand-restored lustrous green leather with burr walnut trim. Modern conveniences have been fitted to the car including power steering and air conditioning. An infotainment screen with navigation and Apple CarPlay functionality is also included.

This particular model will be used as a daily driver by a U.K. car collector so hill seats have been integrated into the rear.

Lunaz will now permanently release production allocation for Bentley Continental S1, S2, S3 in two-door and four-door configuration. In addition to fixed-head cars, the company will also offer rare Continental Drophead Coupé examples.

Prices for original factory steel-body cars start at £350,000 excluding local taxes.


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Polestar currently operates four showrooms in the U.S.

Photo courtesy of Polestar

Polestar, an electric performance car brand, will be opening 15 new sales locations in the U.S. by the end of 2021. Called Polestar Spaces, the showrooms are more in line with what Tesla offers and less like a traditional auto dealership.

Each Polestar Space features minimalist Scandinavian-like design, pulling together the heritage of the company with a modern sales environment. Each location is staffed by non-commissioned Polestar Specialists. Test drives can be coordinated on-site or at home.

In the next few months, locations in Austin, Texas; Boston; Denver, Seattle; South Florida; and Washington D.C. will open. Those new showrooms will be established in connection with established retailer groups in the area. Additional information regarding the D.C. and Florida locations is expected soon.

2021 Polestar 2 The fastback Polestar 2 is a head-turner. Photo courtesy of Polestar

The second-half of 2021 will welcome the opening of additional showrooms in Atlanta; Central and South New Jersey; Connecticut; Dallas; Detroit; Minneapolis; Phoenix; and Orange County, California.

Specific showroom details are available at Polestar.com/Spaces.

"In 2019 we stated our goal of servicing 85% of the addressable EV market within a year of the Polestar 2 launch," said Gregor Hembrough, Head of Polestar in North America. "With these 2021 appointments, we will accomplish that and more- especially with our free pickup and delivery servicing within 150 miles of a brick-and-mortar Polestar location."

Polestar Spaces are already open in Los Angeles (Santa Monica) and Manhattan, plus two locations in the San Francisco Bay Area (Corte Madera and Santa Clara).

The automaker currently offers the Polestar 2 for sale in the U.S. AutomotiveMap recently had the opportunity to test drive the car for review.

It was recently confirmed that the Polestar Precept concept is headed to production. The concept version of the car is noted for its sustainable materials and minimalist design.

Additionally, Polestar and Koenigsegg are working on a project.

Further markets for expansion will be announced later in 2021.

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