Bolt Suffers Aero Penalty for Space

Chevrolet Unveils 2017 Bolt EV at CES

When it comes to electric cars, automakers often make a decision to trade everything else for maximum range, and efforts to achieve the lowest amount of drag possible can make for some small, cramped, or just plain strange small cars. GM decided that with the new Bolt that they would trade some aerodynamics (and, by extension, take a hit to maximum range) in order to make the Bolt bigger inside. As a result, the Bolt gets a coefficient of drag of 0.32, compared to the 0.24 of the Prius or 0.31 of a Chevrolet Sonic.

GM engineers have had to look to other ways to improve the range of the new EV. The first part of that is that solution was to add a host of aerodynamic tweaks that don’t change the car’s shape. They’ve added shutters that block air moving through the grille when cooling air isn’t needed, underbody panels that smooth the airflow, both of which can greatly reduce drag. Finally, small features like the edges of the A-pillar were tweaked to fine-tune the aerodynamics a little more. The second way to improve range is to reduce weight, so the Bolt gets aluminium doors and hood to help it slim down.

All of this is to create more room in the cabin and allow a larger battery pack without losing the space that people expect from their small hatchbacks. The payoff is an expected range of more than 320 km, with a maximum cargo volume of 1,600 L, when the new EV launches at the end of the year.

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Evan Williams

Evan Williams

Evan is based in Halifax, and has been a car nut for as long as anyone can remember. He autocrosses, does lapping days and TSD rallies, breaks cars and then fixes them again.