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GM Unveils the Bolt EUV, its First Mass-Market Electric Crossover That Offers 'Hands-Free' Driving

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【Summary】On Sunday, General Motors unveiled the new Bolt EUV electric crossover. It's based on the Bolt EV hatchback that’s been on sale since 2017. GM’s Bolt EUV is an affordable choice for buyers looking for a fully-electric vehicle that's not a Tesla. It will be available this summer.

Eric Walz    Feb 14, 2021 5:15 PM PT
GM Unveils the Bolt EUV, its First Mass-Market Electric Crossover That Offers 'Hands-Free' Driving
The 2022 Bolt EUV ("electric utility vehicle").

U.S. automaker General Motors has bold plans for electrification of its model lineup that includes elimination of internal combustion engine passenger models entirely by 2035. 

GM is investing billions of dollars to develop up to 30 new electric models over the next five years as the company looks to compete with Tesla. On Sunday, GM offered a glimpse of that future with the unveiling of the new Bolt EUV. The company's new crossover is based on the Bolt EV hatchback that's been on sale since 2017.

The Bolt EUV (which stands for "electric utility vehicle"), is essentially a bigger and roomier version of the Chevy Bolt EV hatchback. Both vehicles share a common architecture. With the popularity of SUV and crossovers with U.S. car buyers at an all-time high, GM's Bolt EUV is an affordable choice for buyers looking for a fully-electric vehicle that's not a Tesla.

With the design of the Bolt EUV, GM is playing safe. It's not some futuristic new vehicle like the Cadillac Lyriq SUV or Tesla's odd-looking Cybertruck. From the outside, its looks like a typical compact crossover with similar styling as the larger Chevy Equinox.

GM's transformation of the Bolt EV hatchback into an EUV is subtle. The wheelbase is three-inch longer which adds just 6 inches to the vehicle's overall length. The height of the vehicle is less than an inch higher compared to the hatchback version.

However this doesn't mean the Bolt EUV is not entirely bland. The vehicle features a sleek front grill with flowing lines, as well as LED headlamps as standard.

What's missing from the Bolt EUV however is an all-wheel drive option, a common setup offered on many SUVs currently for sale. GM executives defended the decision not to offer an all-wheel-drive option in a media pre-briefing on Friday ahead of Sunday's unveiling.

"It has SUV proportions, it has SUV styling," said Jesse Ortega, the chief engineer of the Bolt EV and EUV. "I wouldn't buy into the idea it has to have four-wheel drive to be an SUV."

While the Bolt EUV looks like an entirely new model from GM, it's actually based on the Buick Velite, a compact crossover that GM sells in China which comes as a fully-electric or plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version.

The Bolt EUV comes with a 65 kWh battery and offers a GM estimated 250 miles of range. Official EPA range figures are not available as of yet. The Bolt's range estimates are slightly less than other comparable EVs like the Tesla Model 3 which is rated at 253 miles for the Standard Range Plus version. But GM is defending the EUV's range estimates, saying that the average driver only travels around 50 or 60 miles per day.

The EUV comes with a single electric motor producing 200 horsepower and 266 ft lbs of torque, which is comparable with many gas-powered vehicles currently on the market. 

However since its a fully-electric vehicle, torque is available instantaneously, which makes the EUV accelerate quickly from a standstill. GM also provides a button for an instant burst of torque, which can be used for passing.  

The Bolt EUV also offers one-pedal driving like the Nissan Leaf and other EVs on the market. With one pedal driving, the vehicle begins to slow as soon as a driver takes their foot off of the accelerator pedal. The regenerative energy produced from braking is used to recharge the battery.

The EUV also comes with a dual charging port that accepts 120 or 240 volt charging options for compatibility is a variety of charging options currently available.

The Bolt's most marketable feature however is likely to be GM's Super Cruise automated highway driving feature, which previously was only available on Cadillac models. 

Super Cruise offers "hands-free" driving on over 200,000 miles of highways in the U.S, while keeping a safe distance from other vehicles, offering drivers a safe option for highway driving.

GM's Super Cruise is similar to Tesla's Autopilot, but gets higher marks for its performance.

In 2020, Consumer Reports conducted a side-by-side comparison of the two systems and rated Super Cruise as much better than Tesla's Autopilot. The system was judged using five parameters, including ease of use, the ability to react to an unresponsive driver, engagement level, as well as capability and overall performance. Super Cruise delivered the most consistent performance in the tests. 

The system includes an infrared camera that monitors the driver's eyes to ensure they are paying attention to the road ahead. If the system detects that the driver is not looking straight ahead, a slim led strip on the steering wheel starts flashing bright red. 

If the driver continues to be inattentive, the Super Cruise system starts to slow the vehicle down and will even call for help or bring the car to a complete stop, if needed. 

The launch of the Bolt EUV was initially scheduled for the end of 2020, but it was postponed as a result of the ongoing global pandemic. 

The new Bolt EUV will go into production in the late spring and are due in showrooms by early summer, meaning that GM will soon have multiple EVs in production for the first time in its history. The upcoming fully-electric Cadillac Lyriq is due to go into production later in the first quarter while the Hummer EV pickup is scheduled for production around the same time.

Starting price is $33,995 for the Bolt EUV and $31,995 for the redesigned Bolt EV hatchback. The higher trim Premiere version of the Bolt EUV starts at $38,485.

For U.S. buyers looking for an affordable, yet high-tech fully-electric vehicle, the Bolt EUV checks all of the boxes and could become a big seller for GM its its more affordable price.

The automaker first teased its Bolt EUV shortly after electric automaker Tesla launched its much lauded Model Y crossover in March 2020. It's probably safe to say that GM intends to use the Bolt EUV to rival Tesla's Model Y crossover as well as other battery-powered crossovers in the segment.

More importantly, GM's redesigned mass-market Bolt EV and EUV represent the beginning of the automaker's electric future.

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