Is the Bolt still worth it in 2019?

Discussion in 'Bolt EV' started by Thevenin, Jan 31, 2019.

  1. Thevenin

    Thevenin Member

    I am considering my first EV. It's a big, intimidating decision for me. After weighing my options a bit, I'm on the fence about a Chevy Bolt.

    On one hand, dealerships near me (midwest) are HIGHLY motivated to get rid of Bolts. I have four quotes between $30k and $32.5k, and I can take advantage of the remaining tax credit. A fully functional EV for $22.5k is very attractive to me.

    On the other hand, I am worried about obsolescence. The Bolt isn't perfect (I'd like faster charging, for instance), and lots of similar EVs are coming out in the next three years. I'm worried that if I get a Bolt, it will be instantly outclassed and outpriced, and I'll regret it.

    On the OTHER other hand, if I wait for the perfect EV, I might be letting a good opportunity pass me by. Once the GM tax credit expires, I may not see a deal like this again.

    You folks understand the playing field better than I do. What are your opinions? Is a $22.5k Bolt the best value EV I'll find in the next three years, or should I save my money and wait for something better? If you have a Bolt, are you planning on ditching it for a Kona or e-Niro?
  2. Pushmi-Pullyu

    Pushmi-Pullyu Well-Known Member

    No matter what EV you buy, be prepared to see better cars coming out within a year. EV tech is still new enough that it's advancing rapidly; it's only gradually emerging from the early adopter phase. Think of it as buying a cellphone. Will you wait for next year's newer, better model, or buy something that will serve you well now? There isn't any one "right" decision that's best for everyone.

    Do you really need DC fast charging with a Bolt? How many extended trips do you take per year, and does your family also own a gasmobile that it can use for such trips? For some people, the ability to charge faster at a DCFC station is important. Other EV drivers never use them. If you are someone who does plan on using his BEV for long road trips, then you'd better look elsewhere than the Bolt EV, or you'd better wait until Chevrolet offers more powerful DC fast charging ability.

    Personally, I'm very reluctant to advise anyone on what car is best for them. That's a highly individual decision based on very individual needs and wants. But I'll be glad to help you find enough information to make an informed decision.

    One thing to keep in mind is availability. If you want a Bolt EV, you can pretty much get one easily at any time, altho you may have to drive out of your local area to find a dealership which will give you a good deal. Contrariwise, it's going to be much harder (at least in the USA) to find a Kona or an e-Niro to buy, especially if you want to make a deal for buying one at below MSRP price.

    Didn't I read that the e-Niro will not be stocked by U.S. Kia dealers (I'm guessing here that you live in the U.S... you didn't specify) and will only be available as a special order?

    Another question is how long you typically keep your cars. GM rushed the Bolt EV into production, and I seriously doubt it's going to stay in production long. If you keep your cars for several years, then you may be disappointed at how poorly GM supports the car with parts and service after they take it out of production, which they almost certainly will within a very few years. GM is making very little profit on the Bolt EV, and I have no doubt they are anxious to replace it with something designed and built in-house; something that will give them a better profit margin.
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2019
  3. rgmichel

    rgmichel Member

    I bought the 2017 Bolt EV when there was nothing to compete with it except the Tesla luxury cars, for which I was not willing to pay. The Bolt EV is a superb car, with great acceleration, handling, regen braking - one pedal driving, great cargo space with the seats down, great electronics, neat appearance... need I go on. From other manufacturers, there is now one model on the market and one about to come on the market. Neither get me too excited. The range is not that much different, cargo space not that much different, handling and acceleration not that much different, and so on. The Bolt EV's regen braking is still the best. All manufacturers are essentially working with the same technology give or take a few discussions here or there.

    Charging speed would be important if you do a lot of long distance driving, say of the order of 450 miles a day, then the less time charging is an advantage that might total up to an hour or so less charging time on a long distance day. I do about 20% of my miles long distance, and the charging time of the Bolt EV is fine for me. I have done 2000 mile round trips spread over a few days and it works fine. However, if you are picky about time spent over a meal while you are charging, then charging time might be important.

    My own bottom line is that once the range is at about >338 miles (100 miles more than the bolt ev) then charging time becomes even less important, because you don't need to charge quickly so often. Then I will upgrade, but right now fast charging times and bigger batteries for longer range are really the province of luxury cars and, soon, trucks, not the normal price range that the Bolt EV represents. Even the Jag iPace has a bit less range than the Bolt, has a bigger battery, slightly better performance, but is a luxury car and commands a luxury price. In my view the Bolt EV has it, and will be a great option for at least 3 more years. I plan to keep mine for that much longer, but even then I will only upgrade if there is a significant difference in the range of any new vehicle in my price range.

    For everyday driving, when you are charging at home, charging time is irrelevant, as you usually do it overnight with a 240 volt charger. I generally don't need to charge for more than 5 hours, and on average only about 3 hours for my average 72 mile round trip. That can be done in a morning or afternoon. Its no big deal.

    In summary, I am sure the Bolt is still worth it in 2019.
    JasonMichael and Pushmi-Pullyu like this.
  4. marshall

    marshall Active Member

    Well we will see how it does against the Hyundai/Kia line up over the next couple of years. So far we know that the winter DC charging rate in a Kona is lousy, and the cars are in short supply. From the pictures I've seen, the Hyundai/Kia cars look a lot nicer inside.

    I've sat and drove a short distance in a 2017 Bolt and the seats where horrible. Folks shouldn't have to rip the seats apart and add more foam to them. They won't be getting the full federal tax credit for all of this year either unless congress fixes it. Chevy hasn't exactly oversupplied the Bolt to the dealers either.

    If Hyundai/Kia can keep California well supplied, then the Bolt is in trouble.
  5. Pushmi-Pullyu

    Pushmi-Pullyu Well-Known Member

  6. rgmichel

    rgmichel Member

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I have had no problem with the Bolt EV seats both short and long distance driving. They are certainly not perfect, and I have no doubt there are some big people who might have trouble, but my average build has caused me no trouble in the seats. I have driven long distance as much as 450 miles a day without even thinking about the seats.
  7. Domenick

    Domenick Administrator Staff Member

    If you can get a good price, the Bolt should be fine. Most important, though, is that you take a test drive first to make sure it's something you can live with/enjoy. Cars are a huge investment for most of us.
    If you aren't in a state where the Niro EV or Kona Electric will be sold, it could be a while before another competitor is available.
  8. marshall

    marshall Active Member

    You don't have to have a big frame to find the seats in the 2017 Bolt to be lousy. The passenger side seat was digging into my shoulder blade. There a frigging YouTube video on how to rip the seats apart and add more foam!

    I drove a 2017 Volt and the seats where just fine for the cheap seats they where.

    If you find the seats to be acceptable, then that's great news for you. I haven't sat or driven a Kona or Niro, but I have driven a non-EV Ioniq and the seats where acceptable for a non-luxury car.

    I do believe that the Bolt used car value will hold up and be closer to a non-EV used car value, perhaps even more. If that becomes reality, then that's good news for you.
  9. Thevenin

    Thevenin Member

    Thanks so much for the feedback. I suppose I need to define my own needs a little better to understand when a Bolt would be outclassed for me.

    • Availability: I live in the rural midwest. Mail ordering could be costly, and some EVs take their time getting here. [Bolt Passes]
    • Range: From fiddling around with Plugshare, I know I need 160mi highway range. Chargers are awfully spread out here. [Bolt Passes]
    • Charging: I take road trips between 100-400mi about five times a year. On the longest trip, the Bolt would take 1.5hr extra for charging, while my usual rest stops would take 30-45min extra. This is annoying, and puts a limit on what I can do without . [Bolt Partially Passes]
    • Heating: It gets cold out here. An EV needs decent cold weather performance. The Bolt has a resistive battery heater to keep it cozy at night, but people report mediocre cold weather range compared to an EV with a heat pump. [Bolt Partially Passes]
    • Ownership: "Drive it until the wheels fall off" has always been my mindset. Bolts and Volts have a good reputation for lifespan. [Bolt Passes]
    • Comfort and Gadgets: My current daily driver has crank windows, manual locks, and no cruise control. I have no intense desire for gizmos, and I will not feel left out if a new generation of EVs has self-driving or whatnot. [Bolt Passes]
    • Cost: I have tentatively put a hard limit at $24k, after tax credit. I'd prefer lower. [Bolt Partially Passes]

    To summarize, if an EV comes out soon with better charging, more efficient heating, and lower cost, I will feel like I've made an expensive mistake. However, other EVs will also have their own problems, such as the Kona (no battery heater) and e-Niro (price parity will take years). Other EVs that haven't come out yet include the Soul EV (it's a Niro 2.0), VW I.D. (not available in US), MINI-e (probably over $40k), and LEAF e+ (rapidgate+).

    So what I'm gathering from your advice is that every EV is going to have its shortcomings, and I need to just get out there, test drive one, and see if I love it or hate it.

    Kind of obvious when I think about it.
    bwilson4web and Domenick like this.
  10. As a previous user pointed out, this is an inevitable aspect of EV shopping for at least the next couple of years. I'm also a midwesterner (Cincinnati) and I'm looking at this as a combination of wanting to be more ecologically responsible, wanting to drive a spaceship (EVs are cooool!), and feeling like a perfect use case for existing technology. I look forward to being an ambassador of sorts, showing that an EV is a totally workable car, even with the range shortcomings.

    (I'm leaning toward the Leaf based on cost, dealer support and longevity. I park in the garage, have a short commute, and the only extended range trip I take has a bunch of DCFC at the 120-mile midpoint)
  11. rgmichel

    rgmichel Member

    You have to understand the arithmetic of charging long distance. First, you can't charge more than 80%, so you are now at 96 miles range after charging, then you will leave a margin just in case the charger is not working, so say 20 miles margin, so 76 miles is your actual range between DCFC charges. With a bolt the numbers are proportionately bigger.

    On longevity and dealer support, all EVs have longevity built in, because they are much simpler than an ICE. Dealer support at Chevy is just fine. I have maintained my Bolt EV at a Chevy dealer, and I can tell they have the expertise and resources to do the job. Its all about range in the end. The LEAF does not have it, but the Bolt EV does.
  12. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web Well-Known Member Subscriber

    Originally from Oklahoma now living in Huntsville, AL, I had to make my choices in 2016. Given the crappy state of chargers, it was easy to go plug-in hybrid and we have two, an end-of-lease, 2014 BMW i3-REx and new 2017 Prius Prime. So our long distance history:
    • 463 mi - drive BMW i3-REx home from Charlotte NC over mountain pass
    • 700 mi each way - drive BMW 3-REx Huntsville AL to Stillwater OK
    • 1200 mi - drive Prius Prime home from Rhode Island
    • 212 mi each way - drive Prius Prime to Knoxville and back
    • 300 mi round trip - drive BMW i3-REx to Tennessee for eclipse
    The ability to continue a trip on gasoline meant we were never constrained by chargers. But around town, ~72 mi BMW and ~25 mi Prius Prime, we got the cheaper EV miles, about half the cost of gas miles.

    I would also caution that Electrify America, fast DC chargers are accumulating a lot of EV owner complaints. I tried the one at Manchester TN and only two of three attempts were successful after spending 20-30 minutes trying to find one of the four stations that worked. So far, I'm finding out-of-town, fast DC chargers are 3-4x more expensive than gas, $6 vs $24. Fortunately, long distance miles are about 10-15% of all of our miles so it is not a big budget impact.

    Still, your choice and there are excellent ones out there.

    Bob Wilson
  13. rgmichel

    rgmichel Member

    A bad experience does often color future opinions. Out of 30-40, I have never had a bad EVgo charger, but I have encountered one bad Chargepoint charger, while generally my experience with DC fast chargers is very good. Its true that the cost of DC fast charging has little budget impact due to little time actually going long distance, but its always a bit of a sting given the low cost of home charging, especially if you have solar sitting on the roof.
  14. I'm sorry, by "longevity" I meant that I'm reassured by how long Nissan has been selling the Leaf in my area, and the assumption that they have more experience servicing an electric drive train than their competitors.
  15. sniwallof

    sniwallof Active Member

    I traded in my Clarity for a 2018 BOLT last September. 95%+ of my driving is on the one L2 charge in my garage. The little BOLT is so agile and fun to drive, and the strong regen in L is great for one-pedal driving. I did do the add foam thing to the driver's seat, which was not difficult for those who do DIY projects. Surprisingly, the BOLT audio system is great, much better sounding than Clarity. However, the Clarity was a much nicer ride for seat comfort and seat position, quiet (those laminated windows, in EV mode), and suspension (I knew all of this going in). But, the BEV fun factor is an easy win!

    OTOH, I did a January drive NY - MA in the northeast cold that required three EvGO charges, and a top off at a Chevy dealer fast charge (25 kW). It was pretty painful, compared to a single, or maybe two quick gas stops in the Clarity. I do so little long distance traveling, a second car makes less sense. However, if Honda ever dumps Claritys for lease at much below $200/mo with 0 down, I might be might tempted to just let one sit in the driveway for when I need it.
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2019
  16. rgmichel

    rgmichel Member

    GM has been servicing EVs for a lot longer than the lifetime of the Bolt EV, which is already in its third model year. I worried about this point with my dealer, but he has proved excellent at servicing my Bolt EV. I just have to put up with the usual dealer rubbish meant to isolate me from the mechanic through a phalanx of "service adivsors" who know nothing....
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  17. afriedma

    afriedma New Member

    I too am looking at the 2019 Bolt, which does appear to have a fairly attractive price and is actually available. I live in Washington, and Hyundai dealers told me the Kona EV will not be available in 2019, and perhaps not in 2020! My Kia dealer says that the first e-Niro might be available in March, but supplies will be severely constrained. The 2020 Soul EV might be available sometime in the Summer. Our local Nissan dealer offered to put me on a wait list for a Leaf+, which could possibly be available 'sometime this Spring'.

    I leased the original Leaf for 3 years, and was quite happy with that car, although I began to experience the range loss others have noted. I am now at the end of a 3-year lease on a Kia Soul EV, which has been a great car, although Winter driving range has now fallen to 70 miles. Kia is allowing me up to 6 more months, so I have a hard deadline of mid-August to get a new car.

    Given the rapid rate of technology change in EVs, and the attendant loss of value of previous-generation used EVs, I'm thinking that a lease still might be the way to go. Chevy is offering a 39-month lease right now, at a fairly attractive rate, and I just might pull the trigger on that. The Federal tax incentive for Chevy will decrease on March 31, so the sale/lease will be a little higher after that date. I'm also thinking that, while the Kona might be a nicer car, it is going to be in high demand in 2019, so there will be no deals to be had. The Leaf+ is probably no better than a Bolt, so it would have to be less costly to be attractive, and I'm thinking that will not be the case.

    So, buy/lease a Bolt before the end of March, or roll the dice that a Kona/Niro/2020 Soul/Leaf+ will be available by Summer at a reasonable price?
  18. Domenick

    Domenick Administrator Staff Member

    If you can get the Niro EV (in the US, it's the Niro EV. In other markets, it's the e-Niro -- for whatever reason), I would definitely go for that. Otherwise, an attractive Bolt lease is not a bad alternative.

    The Tesla Mid-Range is now down to $42,900, before the $3,750 tax credit, so that may also be an option. Keep in mind that the first Kona Electric (and possibly Niro EV) available vehicles are likely higher trim versions with higher-than-base pricing (that's how it was in Canada, which already began receiving the Kona).
  19. rgmichel

    rgmichel Member

    I have a 2017 Bolt EV and I have nothing but praise for it. I have no doubt that it is a good car for the long haul, no matter what other cars come on the market. As it is an electric car, it is far better than regular ICE cars in many ways, and that is going to be true no matter how long you keep the car, and no matter what small improvements will come to electric cars over the next ten years. Here are the details of my two main points:

    1. As it is a well-designed electric car, the Bolt EV has great acceleration and handling, equivalent to a decent sports car, and it has great cargo space, especially with the seats folded down, and the regen braking is just fantastic. Regen is one of the main pleasures of the Bolt EV as it makes driving possible with just one pedal, and the reviews I have read indicate that other cars do not have as good regen as the Bolt EV. One side effect is that you virtually never use the friction brakes, which cuts maintenance. The instant torque available at 0 mph in any electric car is wonderful compared to an ICE car and to be enjoyed in many driving circumstances. The tech in the car is great, with two nice sized screens, and many of the main controls are accessible with the traditional knobs instead of having to fiddle around with nested menus. Maintenance of all electric cars is very low. So far, I have only had to rotate tires, with no fluid changes and, with this Chevy, no warranty issues whatsoever. Costs of running an electric car are far superior to any ICE vehicle. Again many of these features will not be expunged by time and the appearance of other electric cars in the same price range.

    2. The main improvements in electric cars that we expect in the future are primarily in the battery. We hope to see batteries that are bigger, and which charge faster to make long distance driving a bit easier than it is now. However, given that caveat, I have regularly driven my Bolt EV 300-450 miles in a day on vacations, with no problem whatsoever for this car with its 238 mile range. It makes for leisurely driving, as you charge while taking a meal, doing a bit of shopping, etc. Unless you are in an impatient hurry, this is not a problem. Other improvements that you might see in electric cars apart from bigger batteries, include faster acceleration and top speeds, and more luxury than the Bolt EV affords. The bigger batteries, longer range, and faster acceleration that are appearing in newly introduced cars, and Tesla's cars, come at a high cost that price many out. As batteries improve, we can expect to see higher range, but its my view no car is worth buying over the Bolt, at its price point, unless it has at least 100 miles more range with better or similar charging speed. This is unlikely to happen in the near future, because higher range is likely to come only with bigger batteries and at higher cost. In the middle distant future, the efficiency of batteries may improve, and mass production costs will come down, which eventually will make new cars "significantly" better than the Bolt EV in terms of cost, range and time to charge. However, this is not a near term prospect (<5 years)

    If you want really "significantly" better than the Bolt EV you must pay more. The new offerings on the market are not yet "significantly" better in range, acceleration, handling, cargo space, etc. You can quibble about the "luxury" end of it, as many complain about the comfort of the seats, cheap plastic, etc., but that is not a gripe to which I subscribe.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
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  20. sniwallof

    sniwallof Active Member

    The Kona EV doesn't really appeal to me over the Bolt (although some reviewers seem to prefer it). I am very happy with the 2018 Bolt, in particular the driver displays, which to me do not look as nice on the Kona. The 2019 is very similar to the 17 and 18. One nice feature is the ability to select a range of limits at which to stop charging. Otherwise, if you can still get a deal on an '18 that might be an even lower cost way to go.
    BEOFGOD likes this.

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