How the all electric GM Chevy Bolt is designed more like a smartphone than a car![/caption]Have you driven a Tesla S? You have to. It has a cool factor that competes with Ferraris.
Yes, it has a $100,000 price tag. That is too pricey for most of us. But until you get in the driver seat of a Tesla and punch the accelerator you will not appreciate the growing excitement over electric cars. The world changes when you are sitting inside a four passenger luxury car that can smoke a muscle car from 0-60.
Think iPhone in terms of future car designs
The Tesla S is a breakthrough technology because it is designed as a consumer electronics device. Think iPhone in 2007. Before the iPhone, and now the Tesla S, there was nothing like it.
Like a smart phone, the Tesla S is designed around continuously updated software.
For example, I programmed a trip from San Diego to San Francisco into the car’s large iPad sized digital display. The software not only mapped the route but also routed for recharging stops. But was amazing, the recharging stops are continuously updated based on actual driving experience. The software will never let you experience range anxiety.
Designing cars as consumer electronic devices
The design of cars as consumer electronic devices is a mega-trend now on the cusp of mass marketing. The full maturation of this mega-trend will be a complete reshaping of what transportation means to us. Its cumulation will be a mobility as service business model anchored by autonomously driven electric vehicles.
“Smarter cars” is the first step toward this future. That is what is happening today. Our cars are increasingly being equipped with smart cruise control, self parking and 360 degree sensor monitors.
Car design is also focusing on integrating into our digital lives. All auto manufacturers, expect Toyota, offer Apple Play and Android Auto connectivity. The next design wave will link our cars with artificial devices like Amazon’s Alexa.
Growing use of electric drive trains
Increasingly, our cars will have electrified drive trains.
Hybrid electric drive trains are the first generation of vehicle electrification. Most of us think Prius and fuel economy. That is about to change. The combination of electric motors and combustion engines generates both superior torque and horsepower.
Since 2014, hybrid engines have been used in Formula One. Two electric motors, plus a combustion engine, achieves 760 horsepower, 35% increased fuel efficiency and blazing speeds. It is this type of technology that is being used in the 573 horsepower Acura NSX. This sports car gets 21 city MPG while delivering a blistering 3.1 second 0-60 time.
The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is a great test drive to see why hybrid drive trains should be in your future. The EPA estimates this five seat, four wheel drive, SUV can achieve 34 city and 30 highway gas mileage. That is best in class. What is stunning is its acceleration. This SUV, with its four cylinder combustion engine and electric motors, leaps up a highway ramp.
GM Chevy Bolt breaks electric car barriers
The GM Chevy Bolt is the first breakthrough electric car. It is affordable, has a 238 mile range on a full battery charge, seats four in contour seats, comes with a digital display that rivals your iPad and is fast!
The Bolt won Motor Trend’s Car of the Year because it is a game changer. I drove one over a mountain range separating Oceanside California and Palm Desert. No other electric car other than the $100,000 Tesla S could have done that. Importantly, the wonderfully equipped Bolt I was test driving costed $30,000 after tax rebates.
The Bolt is the best commuter vehicle sold in America. At 75 cents per gasoline gallon equivalent, no combustion engine car can touch it on fuel costs.
You can drive the Bolt using just the accelerator thanks to the vehicle’s smart regenerative braking system. That sounds crazy, but after five minutes it becomes second nature. This system is a tension-reducing miracle for rush hour driving. When traffic congestion finally opens up, one touch of accelerator will push you forward at the speed of electrons.
Importantly, the Bolt is the first affordable solution to range anxiety. Most commuters will drive all week on a full battery charge. A Level Two home recharger will fill the battery overnight. For longer trips, the Bolt comes equipped to handle DC charging. I added 90 miles of range in around 30 minutes at one of California’s numerous public DC recharging stations.
Nissan Leaf is an affordable electric car choice
When I first drove the Nissan Leaf in 2011 it was a technology breakthrough. I loved everything about the car except its approximately 60 mile driving range. No matter how hard I tried to convince myself that I had enough electricity for that day’s driving, I was constantly worrying about running our of energy.
Today, the Nissan Leaf has a 100+ mile range. Each night, a Leaf owner can plug in their car and then drive three times the average daily commute the next morning.
The Nissan Leaf is no longer the single option for electric vehicles with a 100 mile full battery driving range. There are now eight vehicles with this capability. They range from a small SUV to a BMW.
Your electric car future
Most of us are still not ready to buy an electric car. That might change with the launch of the Tesla Model 3. It has the Tesla S sexy design, a 200+ mile driving range and will cost around $30,000 after tax rebates. 600,000 Tesla 3s have been pre-ordered before the first test drive. That scale of sales success will be a game changer for how America views electric cars. It holds the potential of demonstrating that electric cars are affordable, fast, fun and cool.
The Tesla 3 could be what the iPhone was to Nokia. It could be the first car you buy designed as a consumer electronic device!