Luke Ottaway's picture

In defense of the name “Bolt”

GM confirmed last week that the name of its groundbreaking all-electric vehicle due in 2017 will remain the Chevrolet Bolt, despite many protests across the internet. But I actually like the name, and think it an excellent choice.

When the Chevrolet Bolt EV concept was unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in January, excitement for the affordably priced 200-mile electric car began to build – but not everyone was hyped about the name.

GreenCarReports, a prominent voice in the electric vehicle industry, was particularly displeased with the Bolt name and hoped it would be changed for the production version. Many people, particularly internet commenters, feel the name is too easily confused with the Chevrolet Volt, that Spanish speakers will be helpless to differentiate between the two, that it conjures images of hardware stores or a movie called “Bolt.”

Well, I disagree. I think Bolt is a great name. When I hear the word “bolt,” I think of a surge of electricity flashing across a darkened sky or a frightened horse dashing away from the storm. Electricity and quickness, that is what comes to mind for me. The essence of pure electric cars captured in a single, monosyllabic, easily pronounced word.

Anyone who hears “Chevrolet Bolt EV” and thinks of a mechanical fastener or a bad Miley Cyrus animated film needs to have their brain recalibrated, in this writer’s opinion. Especially if you keep in mind that it is the name of an electric car, Bolt fits quite nicely.

For their credit, GM stuck by their loudly criticized choice. (And I will point out that loud criticism should not be mistaken for widespread criticism – I suspect that the vast majority do or will like the name).

When confirming the Bolt name last week, Tim Mahoney, the marketing chief at GM, pointed to “synergies” between like-sounding names as being advantageous to both the Volt and Bolt, and observed that the immediate association of the name with Chevrolet is an advantage. We are also expected to be impressed that GM conducted not one, but two surveys that showed them the name would garner broad approval among potential customers.

In the end, I like the name for one reason above all others: as GM said in a statement, the Bolt name “suits this game-changing electric vehicle designed for attainability, not exclusivity.” The name just fits, and I for one am glad it is staying. Even if you don’t like it, acknowledge it could be worse: the car could have been named by the Germans and called the Chevrolet 200 eDrivePower e-tron or something horrible like that. I’ll take Bolt EV, thank you very much.

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Hey there goes another Nut in a Bolt. When it breaks down, what a bucket of bolts, and please bolt the bolt's bolts tighter.