Two problems have relegated electric vehicles to a sliver of the market for years: EVs offer less convenience than internal-combustion vehicles, and they are priced considerably higher.
I got into a Chevrolet Bolt last week, and, as promised, it solves — well, mostly solves — problem No. 1.
Electric-drive acceleration is a distinctive form of fun-to-drive, making the Bolt a pleasing ride. More importantly, rated to get 238 miles on a full charge, the Bolt largely eliminates range anxiety in daily driving. Its energy regeneration system adds miles back to the range if you brake or slow down often. Somewhat perversely, this made me enjoy bumping along in rush hour traffic.
Taking a marathon road trip would still be a challenge. If you’re trying to rack up 500-plus miles per day, you’ll stop repeatedly for a 30-minute recharging session (assuming you find a charging station and assuming you’re first in line at the charger).
But that’s an occasional use for most people. As other companies offer EVs with range comparable to the Bolt, the range problem for daily use seems likely to melt away.
That doesn’t eliminate problem No. 2: The cost.
This is particularly troublesome as EV and plug-in hybrid sales for GM and other automakers approach the aggregate 200,000 unit shut-off for the $7,500 federal tax credit. A $7,500 de facto price increase would be a significant obstacle for mainstream buyers.
In part, it comes down to how much you value electric drive. To me, if you disregard the electric drivetrain, the Bolt feels like a nice $20,000-ish small car. But the model I drove stickered at over $43,000.
So the score for EVs at this point? One problem down, one problem to go.