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.

Trending News

Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The Hispano Suiza Carmen Boulogne is an all-electric hypercar

Photo courtesy of Hispano Suiza

The Hispano Suiza brand has been around for more than a century. Now primarily known as an aerospace company, the automotive side of the business is attempting a revival, first with the Carmen's introduction and now with the Carmen Boulogne, a sportier take on the Carmen.

The Carmen Boulogne is a fully electric and exclusive hypercar that was designed, developed, and manufactured in Barcelona, Spain. The company will create just five examples for sale.

Its name origin stretches back to 1921 when Hispano Suiza made a racing version of its high-performance H6 Coupé and entered it in the George Boillot Cup, an endurance race lasting more than 3.5 hours around the French city of Boulogne. Hispano Suiza took the win at the race in 1921, 1922, and 1923.

Hispano Suiza Carmen Boulogne Photo courtesy of Hispano Suiza

The Hispano Suiza Carmen Boulogne delivers 1,098 horsepower and has an electronically limited maximum speed of 180 mph. The car can get form zero to 60 mph in 2.6 seconds and weighs 3,593 pounds. Its weight is 60 pounds less than the traditional Carmen, a number that was achieved by changing out traditional structural elements for a carbon fiber subframe, among other parts. Additionally, the entire body of the car is carbon fiber.

The car's 80 kilowatt hour battery gives it a driving range of up to 248 miles. That's similar to the range of the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E. Its battery is designed and produced in-house, and has fast-charging capability of more than 80 kilowatts, taking just 30 minutes to charge from 30 to 80 percent via a CCS2 fast charger. It also has CHAdeMO and GB/T charging options.

Each rear wheel of the car has two permanent-magnet synchronous motors. The torque deliver of each motor is controlled through a vectoring system honed by experience in Formula E racing. Off the line through 6,500 rpm, the car is capable of reaching 1,180 pound-feet of torque.

The face of the car has the same semi-circular headlights and scowl as the Carmen, with the difference of a copper-colored grille. Buyers can customize their model to include either suede or black Alcantara on the dashboard and door panels.

Hispano Suiza Carmen Boulogne

Photo courtesy of Hispano Suiza

The price of the Hispano Suiza Carmen Boulogne starts at $2 million USD, and its manufacturing process requires approximately twelve month of lead time.

The five units of the Carmen Boulogne hypercar join the 14 units of the Carmen to reach a total of 19 units in production, with the first unit ready to be delivered in 2022.

Trending News

 
 

The 2021 Kia Sorento is towing the numerals for the 2020 Times Square New Year's Eve ball drop ceremony across the country.

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The journey is underway. As many Americans are eager to close out 2020, Kia is working to make the end of the year happen in style. A 2021 Kia Sorento is hauling the iconic numerals for the One Times Square ball drop ceremony across the country with planned stops in Nevada, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York.

"New Year's Eve is typically seen as a fresh start and a new beginning, and that holds true this year more than ever. With its rugged capability, the Kia Sorento will bring a little piece of the energy and fun of New Year's Eve in Times Square to people nationwide. This will also be a reminder that we're all in this together and that the New Year brings new opportunities and excitement," said Russell Wager, director, marketing operations, Kia Motors America.

2007 New Year's Eve Ball Drop Numerals Workers unload the giant '7' completing the "2-0-0-7" sign for the New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square December 13, 2006 in New York City.Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

The fourth-generation Sorento started its journey at Kia's North American headquarters in Irvine, California. Its journey will end in Times Square, the New Year's Eve heart of New York City, where the SUV and its cargo will be on display for three days along with other vehicles, before being installed on the top of One Times Square awaiting the iconic ball drop ceremony.

Kia lists the vehicle as being able to tow up to 3,500 pounds in the SX Prestige X-Line trim when equipped with the available factory-installed tow hitch, a $475 add-on.

At select points along the way, National Geographic will document the Sorento's journey, bringing stories from its stops to life through photography and video.

The publicity stunt culminates in the launch of a new creative campaign for the 2021 Sorento, which will debut during "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2021" on ABC. During the broadcast, you may see some Kia employees in the Times Square. They are there courtesy of the company, who will be hosting them at the event.

Trending News