Exclusive Interview with Chevy Bolt EV Lead Engineer

Chevy's Todd Bruder tells what it's like to live with the Bolt EV

2018 Chevrolet Bolt EV
2018 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Chevrolet describes the Chevy Bolt EV as a “small wagon,” but far more than that it is a revolution. The Bolt EV is an affordable pure-electric vehicle with enough range to make it a practical everyday driver. Other companies (Tesla) have tried to get there, but Chevrolet got there first. Maybe that should not be surprising since parent company General Motors has built some very interesting electric and electric-assisted vehicles over the past three decades, for example the fabled General Motors EV1. But after the incessant glare of publicity that has surrounded other EV brands, venerable Chevrolet is the one to emerge with the EV that could convert you to electric-vehicle driving.

To understand the Bolt EV better we asked a guy who drives one every day

We at Driving Today wanted to understand what driving a Chevy Bolt EV is like day-to-day, so we asked a guy who does it. The fact that he is also the lead engineer on the Bolt EV project lends both credence and caution to what he had to tell us. What emerges, though, is the certain sense that if you have a place to charge at home — and maybe another at work — and your commute isn’t California-long, you can more than likely live with a Bolt EV as your day-to-day car. Not only that, having spent extensive time driving the car ourselves, we think you will really like it.

Check out our review of the Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid

First, it has enough fully-charged range to enable you to think of other things than “where can I charge this thing up?” Our friendly regulators at the EPA estimate it offers 238 miles on a batteryfull. Beyond that, its 7.2 kW onboard charger that enables charging from a 240-volt wall box means you can get 50 miles of typical commute range in less than two hours.

There is more to the Bolt EV than just affordable range

But, as Todd Bruder, the Bolt EV’s lead engineer told us, there is more to the vehicle than just lengthy range before recharging. For one thing, it is fun to drive.  No, not 911 fun, but fun in an interesting, involving sense. It offers several driving modes, including one in which you never need to apply the brakes, so you as a driver have uncommon choice. Plus with an electric motor that whirs out up to 266 lb.-ft. of torque, the Chevy Bolt EV offers rapid acceleration. With its substantial torque multiplied by a 7.05:1 final drive ratio, the Bolt EV will vault from zero to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds. Inside its five-passenger cabin, the Bolt is equally involving with a big and multi-faceted driver information and entertainment system.

That all this comes for a base price of  $37,495 before federal and state tax incentives is a testament to General Motors’ ingenuity. With an assist to the vehicle regulators.

Click on the interview below to learn how the Bolt EV lead engineer drives his vehicle.

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About Tom Ripley 53 Articles
Born in Boston, Tom Ripley has been writing about the automotive industry and the human condition for more than a decade. He's a frequent traveller but nominally resides in Villeperce, France.