2017 Chevy Bolt EV: here's what can go wrong for electric-car pioneer

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2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, road test, California coastline, Sep 2016

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, road test, California coastline, Sep 2016

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The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV will be on dealership floors within several weeks, cementing its position as the first affordable 200-mile electric car.

It will beat planned 200-mile electric cars from BMW, Nissan, Tesla, Volkswagen, and other makers, and that's all to the good for plug-in car advocates.

But the Bolt faces numerous hurdles to success, and it's important for fans and buyers to acknowledge them.

DON'T MISS: 2017 Chevy Bolt EV price starts at $37,495 before incentives (as promised)

Let's not break out the rose petals, rainbows, and unicorns just yet. First, Chevy has to contend with four challenges.

(1) Dealerships

No matter how many times GM executives present their franchised dealers as a strategic asset in deploying electric cars, too many buyers loathe the process of buying a car at a dealership.

They don't like haggling for a car and then doing two to three hours of paperwork while fending off add-on options they don't need (which offer substantial markups to dealers).

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, road test, California coastline, Sep 2016

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, road test, California coastline, Sep 2016

Enlarge Photo

And close to six years after the first Volt went on sale, far too many Chevy dealers still steer buyers away from electric cars and toward whatever gasoline model is "a really great deal" that day.

Chevy executives have said the tone about the Bolt EV is different, and that dealers are genuinely excited about its prospects.

Electric-car advocates can only hope that's true.

READ THIS: 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV first drive: 240 miles in an electric car

But given continuing and substantial anecdotal evidence of dealership abuses at large, outright misinformation about electric cars, and continuing efforts to dissuade buyers from plug-in cars, the evidence is not encouraging.

Chevy's dealers are a major hurdle to its goals of selling electric cars. And given laws GM has advocated for in the past, there's not a damn thing the company can do about it.

(2) DC fast charging ... or the lack of it

There's much discussion of GM's statement that it won't put a dime into DC fast-charging infrastructure, and its continuing statements that the Bolt EV is a car for "urban" customers.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Enlarge Photo

Clearly it will play a major role in ride-sharing and self-driving initiatives in the years to come. And it's probably an excellent vehicle for Lyft drivers.

Still, the car will get buzz from eager early adopters and electric-car advocates, and many of those folks are skeptical at best about Chevy's lukewarm attitude toward DC fast charging.

The latest piece of evidence is that even the 2017 Bolt EV Premier, the top trim level, will require an additional $750 to get the car fitted with the CCS fast-charging port.

CHECK OUT: 2017 Chevy Bolt EV electric car: 238-mile EPA range rating, 119 MPGe combined

We think any Bolt EV buyer who doesn't tick the box for fast charging is hurting its long-term resale value, but Chevy clearly differs.

Perhaps the company has focused too much on its Volt user data, or thinks that anyone who wants to travel long distances in an electric car should use the Volt's range-extending gasoline engine.

But as more than 100,000 Tesla buyers have demonstrated, a long-range electric car plus a nationwide network of fast-charging stations means an electric car can do road trips with little compromise.


 
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