2017 Chevy Bolt EV electric car: new owner's first impressions

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John and Mimi Porter of San Diego, California, with their new 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, in Feb 2017

John and Mimi Porter of San Diego, California, with their new 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, in Feb 2017

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As the first mass-priced electric car with more than 200 miles of range to hit the market, the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV has attracted a great deal of attention.

It's won numerous awards, including the Green Car Reports 2017 Best Car To Buy title, and received rave reviews from a wide variety of media outlets.

But what do actual owners think?

DON'T MISS: Chevrolet Bolt EV: Green Car Reports' Best Car To Buy 2017

While Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak, Science Guy Bill Nye, and probably other celebrities have now taken delivery of their Bolt EVs, we wanted to hear from regular owners.

Enter John and Mimi Porter of San Diego, California, who graciously shared their first impressions of the new silver Bolt EV they've now been driving for a couple of weeks.

What follows are John Porter's words, edited by Green Car Reports for comprehension, style, and length.

Bill Nye in new 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, Jan 2017 [photo: Oskar Liners, Community Chevrolet, Burbank]

Bill Nye in new 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, Jan 2017 [photo: Oskar Liners, Community Chevrolet, Burbank]

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So far, the Bolt EV has been great. It's so quiet and powerful, I have trouble keeping it under 70 mph on our San Diego expressways. We've named it "Lightning."

Our other car, a 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV, is called "Silver Bullet", because we bought it in April 2011 on the day President Obama addressed the gas-price crisis, saying, "There's no silver bullet that can bring gas prices down right away."

Both cars are charged using a General Electric home charging station. And we have a 17-panel photovoltiac solar system on our roof to help reduce the cost of "fueling the cars." We just about break even, every year, for car charging and household electricity.

READ THIS: Science Guy Bill Nye buys Chevy Bolt EV, his seventh electric car

I’ve followed the news about the Bolt EV and, last month, I rather unexpectedly found myself owning one.

First, a little background on how we got to the point of buying an electric car (the Bolt EV is actually our second). My wife and I are retired and live in Southern California, meaning we often see most of the different electric cars on the market, including those limited only to California.

Ten years ago, I became enamored of the potential for energy from sunlight and equipped our motorhome with solar panels to accommodate boondock camping without the need for a noisy generator.

Photovoltaic solar power field at Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee

Photovoltaic solar power field at Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee

Enlarge Photo

That was an interesting and rewarding Do-It-Yourself project, and my success expanded my thinking about our house. Because SDG&E, our local electric company, had been increasing rates regularly, I planned a home solar system.

Luckily, I found a solar engineer and a solar electrician, who took me under their wing with advice about designing one and meeting local codes. The project took a good six months—and during that time, it occurred to me that adding six extra panels would take care of charging an electric car. So our system expanded to 17 panels.

I had seen electric cars, and driven a Smart Electric Drive through the Car2Go car-sharing network.

CHECK YOUR STATE: When can I buy a Chevy Bolt EV electric car? See state-by-state schedule

I was impressed by its performance and quiet ride, though it was disconcerting having the rear window so near the back of my head. It was cramped, too: not even a place for my golf clubs.  

I tried a Chevy Volt that belonged to a friend. It was a beautiful car, but designed for a younger crowd that likes to ride low and doesn’t care much about visibility.

A Nissan Leaf looked like a possibility, but it too was relatively low, and I had heard about battery problems in a hot climate in earlier years.


 
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