It seems Chevy focus-grouped the crap out of Volt owners to come up with their next-generation, all-electric concept, and what people told them they wanted was a crossover that incorporated design elements from the Renault Avantime, Honda CRX, BMW i3 paint, and some Tesla door handles. And it's $30K! Sort of.
Chevy likened the Volt to their "moon shot" (accompanied by the sound of what I guess was supposed to be a rocket, but sounded more like a train) and I guess that makes the Bolt like one of those Syd Mead paintings of the lunar colonies we never seemed to get.
Mary Barra herself came out and proudly announced some hopes and one bit of miselading information: the Bolt should have a range of 200 miles (hopeful, but certainly possible) and will only cost $30,000 (well, after government rebates and incentives, so it's not really $30,000.)
Still, it's good to see that Chevy's goal is to make a full-electric vehicle with decent range that's actually affordable to most people. In their own press materials, they say
"The Bolt EV concept is a game-changing electric vehicle designed for attainability, not exclusivity,"
... which is, of course, a clear dig at Tesla, which is sort of surprising since it looks like they bought the Bolt's (and, now that I think about it, the Buick concept, too) door handles right from them.
Overall, I think the design is a good one. Calling the Bolt a crossover is really just using a word that happens to be popular now — it looks and feels more like a tallish 5-door hatch or smallish van, which I think is a very good thing. In general proportions, it's not all that different from an old Colt Vista or a Honda Wagovan, or more recently, a Mercedes A-Class or a new Honda Fit — and, no joke, I can't think of any higher praise from a genuine utility standpoint.
The design and detailing is clean and sleek and modern, and I see hints of a number of other interesting cars in a lot of it. The reverse-rake D-pillar and wraparound rear glass (well, they're calling it a "nano composite,", which just makes me think of melding together windows from Tata's cheapest car) remind me of a Renault Aventime, and the double-glass of the rear hatch evokes CRXes of old.
The side profile I think works well, with the glass area forming a pleasing teardrop shape, and the wheel-to-body proportions work well.
I'm less taken by the front face of the car, which feels proportionately strange. There's a squinty band of headlights and Chevy's electric-trademark stamped-metal not-grille, and below this narrow strip is a vast unbroken lower jaw with some incised detailing (are they lights?) that sort of form a goofy smile. It looks a little like Stan Laurel or some other grinning, big-chinned doofus.
The roof is all glass (or nano-composo-magic-transparent molybdenum or whatever) which is nice, and the interior is clean, futuristic, and concept-car sleek enough that I'm not even going to bother to pretend to get my hopes up that a production one will look anything like it.
There's no information yet on the layout, but looking at the concept, I'd guess we're looking at a pair of front-mounted motors driving the front wheels, and batteries forming the entire floor of the car.
As far as the construction itself goes, all we get from Chevy is that it's made of
Lightweight materials, including aluminum, magnesium, carbon fiber and even woven mesh
... so I'm going to assume "woven mesh" means burlap, and we're seeing the very first car with a pressed-burlap chassis. Very impressive.
Overall, I like the Bolt concept, though. It's a concept, but it's a surprisingly rational one, and it's not hard to see this essential car actually in production. Chevy managed to avoid the usual dream-car frippery and bullshit and come up with a practical, attractive design. So, good for you, Chevy, and I'm looking forward to it even if you did sort of lie to may face about that $30,000 thing. I'm not mad.