The new Chevy Bolt EV concept was built in Australia

While Holden have announced production of vehicles in Australia will come to an end in 2017, there is good signs for engineering talent. The parent company, General Motors today...

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While Holden have announced production of vehicles in Australia will come to an end in 2017, there is good signs for engineering talent. The parent company, General Motors today unveiled the Chevrolet Bolt EV concept, an affordable, long-range all-electric vehicle constructed in GM Australia’s advanced design studio in Port Melbourne.

Collaborating with GM Korea and GM North America, GM Australia Design contributed to the development of the Chevrolet concept and was responsible for the construction of the functional show car. Post 2017, GM have committed to use Aussie design talent to create future global vehicles.

The Bolt EV concept features the proportions and functionality of a compact crossover. That size may not be for everyone, but this won’t be the last EV for the company, but the first.

While the company is also refreshing their hybrid Volt, the Bolt is pure electric. This care is expected to sell for as low as US$30,000 and is exactly what Elon Musk hoped for. Musk has said when he started Tesla, he really wanted to push other auto manufacturers to take electric vehicles seriously as the future powertrain for vehicles.

Making vehicles on the scale of GM and Ford was never the plan for Tesla and in many ways its surprising they’ve scaled to the volume they have with the current price tag. Tesla have announced they are making the Model III which is expected to land at around half the price of the Model S, and also ship around 2017. It’s great to see one of the big auto makers shoot for a consumer friendly price point, just unfortunate they’re not going all-in. Hybrid is a stop gap technology with a insanely complex blend of internal combustion and battery power plants that miss the opportunity to dramatically simplify vehicles.

The Bolt offers drivers a range of operating modes, designed around preferred driving styles such as daily commuting and spirited weekend cruising, for uncompromising electric driving. The modes adjust accelerator pedal mapping, vehicle ride height and suspension tuning. The Bolt EV concept is also designed to support DC fast charging. There’s no word on the Bolt’s ability to borrow Tesla’s superchargers, at the moment that seems doubtful.

Richard Ferlazzo, GM Australia Design Director, said the Chevrolet Bolt EV signalled a significant commitment to electrification by the brand but also demonstrated GM’s commitment to the Australian Design Centre.

“Bolt EV clearly reflects GM’s collaborative approach to global design programs.  Our design centre is no longer focused on cars only driven on Australian roads,” Mr Ferlazzo said.

“We are a global design centre and as such we have the talent and capability to lead, collaborate and support global programs for international markets such as this.

“The products revealed at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit clearly demonstrate our role within GM Design today and showcases the breath of talent we have here in Australia, enabling us to work on different vehicles for different brands in different countries.

“We have a strong, hard-earned reputation as a mature and highly experienced design centre and it’s fantastic to see the result of the team’s hard work on a global stage such as Detroit.”

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The construction of the Bolt includes lightweight materials, including aluminum, magnesium, carbon fiber and even woven mesh, complement the design, while driving down the curb weight to help maximize range. Aero-optimizing features such as vented rear fenders also help contribute to range.

That range is expected to be 200 miles, or in Australian.. 321km. Not bad considering most EV’s today are achieving 150km or less. Of course this is no where near the 500km achieved by the Model S, but at a third the price, it’s decent value.

The concept’s technological intuitiveness can be accessed via a smartphone with the concept Bolt EV Connect app, which is designed to:

  • Allow a smartphone to perform as the key fob
  • Allow ride-sharing management, including reservations, vehicle location, digital key and even payment processing via the smartphone
  • Incorporate the concept automatic park-and-retrieval technology, which enables the driver to exit the vehicle and tell the Bolt EV concept to park itself – and when errands are completed, the Bolt EV concept can be summoned to return to the owner’s location.

A large, color 10-inch-diagonal capacitive-touch screen, with interface features, complements the concept Bolt EV Connect app. It even allows the projection of all the application and other smartphone data onto the screen.

More information about the Aussie built Bolt concept is available at GM’s media site.

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