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Long Live the King: Chevrolet’s Affordable Bolt EV Will Return


The king of the affordable electric cars is back, baby! Chevrolet’s Bolt EV will return for a second generation, as announced by General Motors Chair and CEO Mary Barra on a quarterly earnings call Tuesday morning. The next-gen Bolt, Barra promises, will continue to deliver the range, technology and, most importantly, budget-friendliness that we’ve come to expect from the nameplate.

Earlier this year, General Motors announced that the Chevrolet Bolt EV models — our top pick for affordable electric cars — are scheduled to end production later this year as the automaker turns its attention to spinning up production of its larger Ultium-based electric trucks and SUVs. I’ve been mourning the loss of one of my favorite EV recommendations ever since, but it turns out my grief was a bit premature.

According to Barra, this new Bolt EV will be built on GM’s more modern Ultium battery and energy platform and its Ultifi EV software and connectivity technologies. With the new platform and tech should come faster charging. The current Bolt — like most other EVs at the affordable end of the price spectrum — struggles with a slow 55-kilowatt DC fast charging rate, which makes road trips a chore. A next-gen Bolt that charges at the Ultium spec’s 250 kW would be a game changer for budget EVs and much easier to live with for longer trips that require multiple charges.

The move to Ultium also promises improvements to range and reduced engineering and manufacturing costs thanks to standardization with the rest of GM’s upcoming Ultium EVs. The current Bolt EV is the cheapest EV you can buy today. Here’s hoping its successor retains that title; it’ll likely be facing stiff competition from the next-generation Hyundai Kona Electric and the Swedish-engineered, Chinese-built Volvo EX30 when it arrives.

We can also expect improved technology both in the dashboard and in driver aid tech around the vehicle. I’m always excited for more safety, but GM’s announcement that it’s phasing out Android Auto and Apple CarPlay in its future EVs in favor of more integrated infotainment tech has me worried that the Bolt’s delightfully simple, smartphone-based dashboard could get more complex and expensive.

GM and Barra’s heralding the Bolt’s return didn’t explicitly mention the fate of its slightly larger spinoff, the Bolt EUV. My guess is that the next-gen Bolt EV may be slightly larger than the current generation, an upscale that will probably overlap with the EUV enough that it doesn’t make sense to have two models, simplifying the lineup.

The new Bolt will anchor the affordable end of Chevrolet’s growing lineup of EVs, which will also include full-electric versions of the Silverado pickup and the Blazer and Equinox SUVs. Details regarding the second-generation Chevrolet Bolt are expected to be announced further down the road.


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