Why the Chevrolet Bolt EV is a Great Choice for Fleets

 In Fleet Sustainability

The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV debuted in North America in the final weeks of 2016. As the first car to reach an impressive range quote (238 miles) at a mid-tier price point ($37,495), Chevy’s electric hatchback represents the start of a new generation of plug-ins and a shift in the industry at large.

You only need to compare it to the Nissan Leaf – the best-selling EV in history – to see how the Bolt EV raised the bar. Compared to the Leaf, the Bolt EV offers:

  • 122% more range
  • 87% more horsepower
  • 42% more torque

…at a price increase of 18% over a 2016 Leaf with quick-charging port ($31,645). But the story only begins there. Following our first drive of the 2017 Bolt EV in California, we got a feel for how this car would work for organizations looking to adopt electric vehicles.

Here are the features that could make it a great vehicle for greening your fleet.

Realistic Range and Economy Quotes

What good is an economical electric car when the range disappears during a highway drive? First-gen EVs were known for range depletion at higher speeds, and this problem stung fleet owners in the past. Instead of getting close to the range quoted on the dash at the start of the drive, vehicle operators often had to adjust to a new reality midway through a run.

The Chevy Bolt EV’s LG battery system manages its range better than any EV in its price segment, removing this concern for local trips. Meanwhile, it peaks at 110 MPGe on the highway, which is a better economy rating than the Tesla Model S or Leaf (both average 101 MPGe).

Of course, starting out with 238 miles on a full charge gives vehicles operators plenty of leeway. Instead of having to moderate speed in fear of depleting battery reserves, drivers can use the full power of the Bolt EV to complete their trips in a timely fashion.

Solid Cargo Space with a Small Footprint

Without a gasoline engine or fuel tank to restrict them, Chevy engineers made sure to stretch out the Bolt EV interior. The result is a small-footprint car with 17 cubic feet of trunk space and 56.6 cu ft of space when you put the back seats down. Compared to a Nissan Leaf (30 cu ft) and BMW i3 (38.8 cu ft), there is no contest.

Meanwhile, the overall length of Bolt EV (164 in) is over one foot shorter than the Toyota Corolla (183 in) and nearly one foot shorter than Leaf (175 in). Drivers who go into crowded neighborhoods with limited parking will appreciate the ability to squeeze into more spots in this car.

In summary, the Bolt EV’s utility is superior to any vehicle in its size and price class without sacrificing efficiency.

Simple Drivetrain and Controls

Fleet owners may have had trouble training drivers to handle plug-in hybrids and pure EVs in the past, but these problems are unlikely to arise with a Bolt EV. Drivers can choose from six different drive modes in this vehicle, and each caters to the operator’s comfort with so-called “one-pedal driving.”

One-pedal driving means activation of the vehicle’s full regenerative braking powers. When taking your foot off the accelerator, the car will quickly come to halt without use of the brakes. Once a driver becomes comfortable with this system, it allows them to get the best economy the Bolt EV can offer. Otherwise, drivers can utilize the standard drive mode, which reacts like a regular vehicle would.

The Bolt EV’s simple controls require no special training either. The 10.2-inch diagonal touch-screen and climate control buttons are easy to operate. After each trip, drivers can use the screen to find out how they economically they managed the vehicle.

Using Federal and State Incentives

Chevrolet Bolt drivingAt a base price well below $40,000, fleet managers can make a clear business case for the Bolt EV. Claiming the full $7,500 tax credit the year after your purchase brings the base price to $29,995. This tax incentive remains in effect through 2017 but may phase out sometime in 2018 when GM reaches its limit of 200,000 tax credits.

Beyond the federal incentive, many states offer tax credits and/or rebates for buying an electric vehicle. California continues offering $2,500 for EV buyers, while Colorado ($5,000), Massachusetts ($2,500), and Maryland ($3,000) are a few other states that help defray the purchase cost of a plug-in.

Business owners may also take advantage of special rates for EV charging and incentives to install charging stations in the workplace. Government agencies are willing to invest in these vehicles because of the impact on emissions and public health.

Finally, the reduction in operating costs could make the Bolt EV’s business case a slam dunk.

Solving the Charging Issues

Chevrolet Bolt chargingWhen operating vehicles with 100 miles or fewer in traveling range, fleet owners had to concern themselves with public charging. We believe those concerns will be drastically reduced when working with a Bolt EV.

One of our previous studies showed that 56% of fleet vehicles travel less than 40 miles per day. That means this car would eliminate the need to use public charging stations. Removing that headache and expense would be entirely possible with a Level 2 station installed in the workplace. Using a 240v system, the Bolt EV can get 25 miles per hour of charging.

Even in cold weather, when EVs experience varying levels of range drain, most fleet owners will not have to sweat the logistics of charging on the road or in the city.

Matching the Bolt EV to Your Business Needs

If you’ve read any of our articles before, you’ll know that we always recommend studying your duty cycles to determine if a 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV is right for your organization.

An Electric Vehicle Suitability Assessment will analyze your fleet’s current drive patterns, and identify the application in which the Bolt EV makes the most sense – eliminating any financial or operational surprises.

Electric vehicles can now make a strong case for almost any organization with the arrival of the Bolt EV. If it sounds like it could be a good fit for your fleet needs, 2017 is the year to make your move.

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