As part of a declaration of intent to the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, Chevrolet released these images of the Menlo model ahead of its official unveiling early next month. Menlo is the Chinese-market name for the Bolt-based electric compact crossover, which will likely be called Bolt EUV here in the U.S. market. To be quite honest, I like the Menlo name a lot better.
The Menlo was developed in response to China’s newly stricter emissions standards, but is an extension of the Bolt platform, which is also used by the all-electric Buick Velite 6 wagon-ish model in China. The Menlo will certainly change a bit before it reaches the U.S. market.
For one thing, I imagine the Chinese-spec 150-horsepower electric motor will be swapped out for a more powerful piece. The current Velite 6 gets around 187 miles of city driving, and the same is assumed for the Menlo. American buyers would likely balk at anything less than 200 miles of range these days, so the electric batteries will need to be upgraded as well.
Don’t forget that GM promised 20 all-new electric vehicles launched by 2023, and this would seem to be the first of them. I don’t know exactly how we got here, to a place where crossovers are considered cool, and maybe cool enough to offset the nerdiness of an EV platform. I’m a big fan of the Bolt and the series-hybrid Volt, and EVs in general, so if this form factor is what Americans need in order for electric tech to take off, then so be it.
From a styling perspective, the Menlo looks pretty much ready for the U.S. market. With dark plastic cladding and plenty of gap above the wheels to give it a faux-off-road look, the Menlo has some busy sheetmetal, but could be the EV answer to the American market’s dreams. It’s got a bit of Bolt at the back and a bit of Blazer everywhere else. As crossovers go, it’s not horrible to look at.
If this is the future of crossovers, that might be a fine future. The down-low weight of an EV helps offset the up-high weight of a CUV, so it’ll balance out and drive like a regular sedan. Maybe. Anyway, I look forward to hearing more about the Menlo when it launches at the Chengdu Motor Show in a couple weeks.