Why GM Fails to Impress with Official 2020 Chevy Bolt EV Updates and Changes
If you’ve been following our electric vehicle coverage over the last month or two, you’ll know we’ve been advocating for some significant changes to the 2020 Chevy Bolt EV. Entering its fourth model year, we’ve talked about our hopes for a mid-cycle refresh, not least to fix some of the things that make the Chevy Bolt EV feel dated already.
Unfortunately, it looks like our hopes have been dashed, as the 2020 Chevy Bolt EV updates recently posted to GM’s Canadian fleet order guide site are minor, to say the least.
2020 Chevy Bolt EV: Mainly Colors and Cameras
In keeping with the updates to the 2018 and 2019 model years, the 2020 Chevy Bolt EV receives only a couple of color changes and some minor feature adjustments. If the consumer-facing updates match only those listed on the fleet order guide, buying a Bolt EV in 2020 will look much the same as it does right now.
Of the ten changes listed, half of them relate to color additions and deletions. The rest are unlikely to excite even the most ardent Bolt EV enthusiasts, so we’ll simply post them as they appear in the GM listing:
Delete: Green Mist Metallic exterior color
Delete: Shock exterior color
New: Oasis Blue exterior color
New: Cayenne Orange Metallic exterior color (additional charge)
New: All-weather floor liner, LPO
Change: Keyless Open on front doors replaces (ATH) Keyless Open on all 4 doors;
Change: HD Rear Vision Camera replaces (UVC) Rear Vision Camera
Change: HD Surround Vision replaces (UVH) Surround Vision
Change: High gloss Black grille replaces (TUR) Dark Silver grille and (TUS) Black grille
Change: Low-Speed Forward Automatic Braking is now called Automatic Emergency Braking
It’s possible that the addition of HD cameras to replace the low-quality versions in previous model years will raise a cheer or two from current owners, but there’s precious little else to inspire prospective buyers to hold out for a 2020 Chevy Bolt EV.
The Pack (and Software) Remains the Same
While it doesn’t come as a surprise that GM has sticking with the same battery pack at this early stage in its EV development, it’s disappointing that there don’t seem to be any software tweaks to enable longer fast charging at the maximum rate of 55kW.
Greater control over thermal management and battery conditioning would also be interesting additions for current Bolt EV drivers, some of whom will be ending three-year leases next year and looking for reasons to stick with the vehicle.
For those of us in areas with harsh winter conditions, for example, the ability to preheat the battery before heading to a DC fast charger would be a welcome feature. Tesla added this via an over-the-air software update earlier this year and it highlights an area where every legacy manufacturer, not just General Motors, fails to compete.
It’s possible that such updates wouldn’t make the fleet update listings, but nothing in GM’s actions to date gives us reason to believe that anything major is lined up for the 2020 Chevy Bolt EV.
A Glimmer of Hope in New Models?
The last remaining chink of light for anyone interested in GM’s steps towards electrification in 2020 could be a new model.
We’ve already looked at the rumors surrounding the Chevy Bolt EUV and GM has stated that 20 new models are planned by 2023. It seems reasonable to believe that at least one or two of those will be unveiled before the year is out, at which point it becomes a question as to how quickly any new vehicle can be produced and how closely they match the needs of buyers already considering the Chevy Bolt EV.
That means a price point below $40,000 and a similar form factor (preferably larger SUV or CUV styling). For many, the requirements for any new offering also means a battery pack at least as capable as the current 60kWh version, delivering 250+ miles of range and an improvement on DC fast charging speeds to keep up with the competition and rapidly expanding infrastructure.
Given the current pace of General Motors’ EV development, we’re not optimistic that any of this will happen by 2020.
While that doesn’t necessarily mean that GM is about to lose the non-Tesla EV lead that Nissan surrendered, the vultures are circling in the form of competitive long-range BEV models from Kia and Hyundai. Then there’s the looming shadow of the Tesla Model Y, which could see Tesla storm into another important mainstream vehicle category.
The only certainty in the electric vehicle marketplace right now is rapid change and increased consumer expectations, which makes GM’s apparent lack of ambition with the 2020 Chevy Bolt EV somewhat concerning as we enter the fourth model year with essentially the same vehicle released back in 2016.
What do you think GM needs to do to keep pace with the EV market? Let us know in the comments. See you in the next story where I am discussing why the rumored Cadillac Escalade Electric SUV is essential to a growing EV market.